Cucumber plants like to climb. We have tried various things for them to climb like cyclone fencing and tomato cages. These items served their purpose, but we have the best luck with a piece of cattle panel. We had to buy a cattle panel for an unrelated project. It only used part of it; therefore, a long, thin section of the panel remained. It is about 16′ x 3.’
My husband, Lane, bent it into the shape of an arch. He supported the panel at both ends with a metal t-post. I formed a mound of soil around the ends of the panel. Then I planted cucumber seeds on the inner and outer sides of the panel. As the plants grow, their tendrils reach out and catch on to the panel. They literally grow up the arch.
Sometimes a plant will have a hard time catching on to the panel. If this happens, I help it out by wrapping its tendril around the panel wire. The tendrils are sticky and curl tightly if not attached to anything. I gently stretch out the tendril and curl it around. However no matter how gentle I am, the tendril will sometimes break or refuse to hold. Then I use zip ties, bread twist ties, or even pieces of nylon hosiery to tie the vine to the panel.
I think that growing cucumbers on an arch allows for easier access to the cucumbers. As the cucumbers grow and ripen, they hang down from the arch; therefore, they are easier to find and harvest.
I have learned to water my cucumber plants very well. If you don’t water them enough, their rind will turn yellow and/or they taste bitter. If you pick a cucumber and it tastes bitter, then you can try this trick. Cut the ends off of the cucumber. Using the cut off ends, rub the sides of the cucumber in a circular motion. Usually it will begin foaming. Rub until the foam disappears. Try the cuke, if it is still bitter there is nothing you can do besides feeding it to your chickens or worms. However more than likely, the cuke should be edible.
If this is necessary with your cucumbers, remember to water them more. The baby vegetables growing and ripening on the plant still have a chance to taste good. Water is key to great tasting cucumbers. As with so many garden vegetables, pick them daily. It sometimes seems that they become enormous overnight. Make sure to pick them before they grow too big.
My family really likes cucumbers. They are excellent to eat raw, with dip, or in vinegar. Of course, cucumbers are great pickled. I should have enough to be pickling them soon. We go through a lot of pickles in a year’s time.
If you like cucumbers and are frustrated with how they grow or how they taste, try these techniques. Use an arch of cattle panel or some other material. Most importantly, water them well.