Old Style Cucumber Farming

The cucumber market is not easily over-supplied, but the pickling tub should stand ready to receive all cucumbers not sold in a fresh condition.

For field culture, good ground must be selected, and marked out with a plow, 4 × 4 feet; or, a little wider, if the soil is strong. At least one shovelful of well-rotted manure is dropped in every hill, and mixed with the soil, and a dozen seeds planted, to be thinned out finally to three or four plants. It is better to have extra plants, on account of the attacks of the striped beetle.

The cucumber belongs to a botanic family which is naturally tender, and the seeds should not be sown until the soil is quite warm. For farm work, the planting season is the latter part of May and the whole of June; and even July is a suitable month, if the soil can be irrigated. It will require two pounds of seed for an acre.

The variety sown should depend on the purpose in view; but in all commercial operations, well-known and thoroughly tested sorts should be chosen. Shallow cultivation is recommended.

If an early market is to be supplied with cucumbers, the seeds may be started under glass, on bits of inverted sod or in small boxes, and set in the open ground on the arrival of settled warm weather; but the farmer will usually find it most profitable to sow the seeds where the plants are to remain.

The most serious enemy of the cucumber vine is the striped beetle, which attacks the young plant and frequently ruins it. The remedy is air-slaked lime, or soot, or sifted coal ashes, or wood ashes diluted with dry road dust. The best preventive is salt or kainit, used in the hills. The true plan is to have strong, vigorous plants, which, as a rule, will resist and outgrow the striped beetle, and be not greatly injured by its attacks. There is a blight which sometimes destroys the cucumber vine, apparently the result of weakness following a prolonged drouth.

The vine of the cucumber must be kept in vigorous growth, not only by cultivation and a sufficient water-supply, but by care in removing all the fruit as soon as formed, for, if the seeds be permitted to mature, the vine will quickly perish. It is the purpose of the vine’s existence to produce ripe seeds, and it will make repeated and long-continued efforts to accomplish this end. In gathering the cucumbers, it is important to avoid injuring the vine. Some growers use a knife; others break the stem by a dexterous twist, without injuring the vine in the least.

It requires 300 cucumbers (more or less) of fair pickling size to make a bushel, and it is estimated that an acre will produce from 100 to 200 bushels, or even more. When the pickles are pulled while quite small, the number runs up to 125,000 per acre; and the pickle factories in some cases make their estimates on a yield of 75,000 per acre. The price is variable, but often quite profitable.

Cucumber.—For planting in the South to ship to Northern markets use Improved Arlington White Spine. Giant of Pera is a fine table sort. For pickling, plant Johnson & Stokes’ Perfected Jersey Pickle. For description see our “Garden and Farm Manual.”

Downy Mildew.—A disease which lately threatened to destroy the business of growing pickles in New Jersey and elsewhere, the downy mildew of the cucumber, can be fully overcome by spraying the vines with Bordeaux mixture. It requires six or seven applications, at intervals of a week or ten days, to conquer this comparatively new disease. Downy mildew is a fungous trouble affecting the leaves and destroying the further usefulness of the vine. A recent New York experiment showed a yield of $173 worth of pickles per acre under spraying as against complete failure where the Bordeaux mixture was not used. The cost of spraying was $9.50 per acre, leaving $163.50 per acre as the value of the crop saved by the operation.

This article was taken from,


Author: JOHNSON & STOKES, Seed Growers and Merchants

Published 1898