Anyone know of a good cucumber variety to grow in a subtropical climate?

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by boo, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. boo

    boo Guest

    Hi,

    I have moderate success growing cucumbers but I rarely get a plant to thrive and produce a great crop. I live in a subtropical climate and I find the plants grow best when planted in autumn but powdery mildew and other problems still take its toll.

    I tried a Russian cucumber variety this season as it's supposed to be disease hardy but it grew the same as a Lebanese cucumber - started off really good then at about maturity it started to slowly die-off through mainly leaf problems and I only got a few fruit from each plant.

    Does anyone know of any good varieties or tricks to grow cucumbers in the subtropics? :)
     
  2. Lissa

    Lissa Active Member

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    Hi Boo. Your question was posted some time back, but I'll answer all the same.
    I'm currently (January 2013) growing three types of cuc. Spacemaster, Muncher and Prof. Mary Sheehan (white). I plant my seeds before the beginning of summer in raised beds full of compost, rock minerals, green manures etc with a thin top layer of garden soil for planting. I keep the seed moist until they have a good hold and then water as needed - which just happens to be daily during this current extreme hot weather.

    I have had very little problem this summer with disease - this can be related to the variety being hardy (can recommend all three of these especially the PMSheehan which is producing long past the other two), watering in the morning or no later than mid afternoon on a hot day and adding the rock minerals to keep the plants healthy and strong. I use Granite (Deco) and Basalt from the local landscape shop for $2 per bucket. Can't get any better than that.

    Hope that helps and hope you are still around to read it!
    Lissa
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I haven't tried Spacemaster or muncher personally but I'm going to now :) Yes, I can also vouch for Mary Sheehan. Plus, the Giant Russian has good disease resistance, grows big and fat, and tastes crisp without the slightest hint of bitterness so give that one a go too.
     
  4. Lissa

    Lissa Active Member

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    A friend also recommended "Suyo Long" and when I googled I was very impressed.....so have bought seed from Green Harvest for next season :) Good lord! those Giant Russians are huge. Bit big for me alone lol, but they sound tasty from your description.
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I also just bought some Suyo Long from Green Harvest but will probably wait until next spring to plant... Yeah the Giant Russians are great and they keep well in the crisper too.

    Our guys who service our enviro-cycle (nice couple - own business) left me a cucumber, for the seed, whilst I was away on holidays (last few weeks) with a note on our invoice saying "it was handed down to me and now I give to you." I'm not exactly sure what type of cucumber it is but I'm looking forward to trying it. I will try and catch them next time they are out here and get the name but the fruit is big (like a Giant) and the skin looks/feels "orangey" and firm.
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Have got hold of a variety of cucumber I've been hunting for ages called West Indian Cucumber. This is a small variety which is supposed to prolific and tasty; however, I'll have to wait for spring to try them out (too cold to start from seed ATM). Apparently, has really good disease resistance too.

    west indian cucumber.jpg

    Image from Beautanicals Herbs and Seeds (which is where I got my seeds from).
     
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  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    OK, I have been able to get a few West Indian Cucumber plants growing nicely and they are starting to fruit so here's a few observations so far:
    • Leaves - leaf structure is very different to other cucumber varieties with more of a jigsaw or frog feet leaf pattern (similar to a rockmelon plant - same family) instead of the large heart shaped leaf of a conventional cucumber.
    • Growth - likes the heat and grew poorly through early spring until the cool changes ceased and now that summer is here in 1 days time it seems to be thriving which is unusual as other cucumber varieties start to suffer in the subtropical summer. Also, this cucumber variety has a natural spreading habit with lots of branches from the main stem whereas most other cucumber varieties tend to need a little help to branch out by "dead heading" the young vine to encourage growth.
    • Fruit - the plant/s seem to be flowering profusely with lots of fruit starting. We've had several early fruit already and they look like tiny watermelons with lots of spikes which are easy to rub off to leave a smooth oval cucumber with a faint light green stripe going lengthwise. I'm beginning to think this is a variety best picked small (at about 4 cm and definitely not over 6 cm) because it does have lots of seeds. However, at this young stage the seeds are not a problem and are soft and easy to eat. This small cucumber fruit would be excellent pickled and once I have enough to gather all at once, I'll pickle a jar full and see if I'm right. I'll post the results here... Taste-wise, I would call the West Indian Cucumber very mild and pleasant.
    I've still got some evaluation to go but so far this cucumber looks promising - I like that it likes the heat - and could turn out to be one of the best finds for my sub-tropical climate in a long time. I may have solved my cucumber summer growing problem with this variety and also found a great pickle! We'll see ;) Here's a few pics below:

    west indian cucumber leaf plant.jpg west indian cucumber spike.jpg west indian cucumber whole in hand.jpg west indian cucumber seeds half in hand.jpg
     
  8. armysnail

    armysnail Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I grew Cucumber burpless tasty green F1 from Erica Vale successfully on a reo steel trellis. Keeping it off the ground seems to work well. If it gets too hot, grow it under a tree such as a gum. Some shade but due to the scarcity of leaves plenty of light. Just remember to germinate elsewhere as most Eucalyptus give off a chemical that inhibits germination under their canopy. If no gum is available try shadecloth.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Funny you should say that because I'm growing a Suyo Long cucumber under a gum at the moment and it seems to be doing pretty well - still only young about a metre long but flowering now.

    Think I'm going to have to use your shade cloth idea for a whole range of veggies I want to grow this summer as I only have three beds which are part shaded by gums and one is a permanent with ginger and asparagus so that leaves me with two.
     
  10. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks for the tips! I just planted cucumber, ... as food for my snails :oops:
     
  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    If you have any trouble growing your cucumber at this time of year then consider the West Indian as detailed above. Mine are looking great and producing heaps of good fruit whilst some other varieties in my garden are starting to wither in our summer heat.
     
  12. armysnail

    armysnail Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Where did you get the seeds Mark?
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I got them online at Beautanicals see my post above here.

    Happy to send you some seed if you want... Here's my harvest from a few days ago with some ginger and oregano (made pickled cucumbers/gherkins out of them).

    west indian cucumbers harvest.jpg

    west indian cucumber in hand close up.jpg
     
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  14. armysnail

    armysnail Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Seed would be great. Should we look at a seed bank? Swap seeds if you have something different?
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah - that sounds like a good idea. Some people might take advantage of it... we could create a seed swap forum? It can't hurt I guess.

    If you send me a private conversation with your details I'll send you some seed or since you are in my local area I'm happy to meet up sometime if you like?
     
  16. armysnail

    armysnail Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As long as people contribute I don't care. If my seed results in an article or someone uses them to get someone else interested I would be happy. Maybe if we use self return mail from the start it would stop abuse. If I want your seed I send you a letter with a reply paid envelope. That way your only expense is time. Ps. Happy to meet anywhere local to swap seeds. Who knows, we may end up with a swap meet due to the number of people in Brisbane.
     
  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm going to copy and past that reply post idea into the seed forum itself as a suggestion.

    OK, I'll let some of my cucumbers mature and let you know when I have some seeds so we can organise a meet somewhere, have a brew and a chat, swap a few seeds, anyone else who wants to come can - sounds good. Might discuss this in the seeds forum later in a new thread...
     
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  18. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Here's my Burpless Cucumbers, photos from this morning...

    I just hammered some stakes in yesterday and put some wire on them to give the cucumbers something to climb on.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Magnificent! These are one of my favourites also and yours are looking pretty good in spite of the hot weather we've had in our part of the world lately.
     
  20. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    yeah it's been pretty dry here, had 38 the other day and 34 yesterday. We just had some rain but hardly enough to make a difference. The water tank is low too :(
     
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