Munching on a crunchy cucumber salad is pretty much a given in the summertime. If you’re fond of cukes, then you’re going to love Armenian cucumbers. Growing Armenian cucumbers in your summer vegetable garden is one of the best ways to celebrate the sun.
Armenian cucumbers are known by many names, such as snake cucumbers, snake melons, and yard-long cucumbers. Its unique coiled shape is the reason behind its various names.
While it appears somewhat like a cucumber inside, it is actually a variety of muskmelon. The light skin of this mild-tasting, serpentine vegetable is edible. When sliced, it may give off a cantaloupe-like aroma.
- Basic Growing Requirements
- Pests and Diseases that Affect Armenian Cucumbers
- Steps to Grow Armenian Cucumber
- Tips for growing Armenian cucumber
Basic Growing Requirements
The two main requirements for getting a superb yield of this ethnic muskmelon are hot sunny days and lots of water. Sow the seeds only after the weather warms up to 65° F for successful germination.
Before you put on your gardener’s gloves, take a look at the pests and diseases that may harm your snake cucumbers, so that you’re ready to deal with them if needed.
Pests and Diseases that Affect Armenian Cucumbers
- Cucumber beetles may infect the plant with bacterial wilt. Use netting to protect young plants and seedlings.
- Squash bugs and slugs love to feed on the tender leaves and fruit.
- The leaves and flowers can be affected by aphids. You can remove aphids from the plant with a sharp spray of water early in the day.
- You should also check for signs of squash vine borers. These large insects lay eggs inside the vines of the plant, and once hatched the larvae can kill an entire mature cucumber plant very quickly. Check for holes at the base of the plant. If caught early it is sometimes possible to perform “surgery” on the vines by carefully slicing them vertically with a sharp knife, removing the eggs or larvae, and burying the cut section in the soil so new secondary roots can develop.
- Diseases like powdery mildew and scab can affect overcrowded plants. Thin out the plants and remove weeds to improve air circulation and reduce humidity amid the plant foliage.
- Avoid planting Armenian cucumbers and other muskmelon varieties in the same spot year after year to discourage soil-borne diseases.
Steps to Grow Armenian Cucumber
Things you’ll need:
- Garden pressure spray pump
- Organic compost
- Fertile garden soil
- Armenian cucumber seeds
- Gardening gloves
- Garden shovel or trowel
Step 1. Prepare the planting bed
- Prepare the soil by mixing 1 part organic compost with 2 parts fertile garden soil.
- Remove any lumps in the soil and ensure that the soil is pH neutral.
- If the soil is too heavy, add organic matter and make raised beds to improve drainage.
- Cucumbers require good nitrogen content. You can test your soil for its nutrient content with a do-it-yourself kit or send it to a soil lab. Amend a nitrogen-deficient soil by adding well-rotted manure.
Step 2. Sow the seeds
- Make holes about ½- to 1-inch deep in the planting bed with your finger.
- Put 2 or 3 cucumber seeds into every hole.
- Cover the area with soil to fill the holes.
- Water the planting bed with a light shower.
- You may also want to mark the planting bed with a garden label for easy identification.
Step 3. Monitor the plants’ growth
The ideal temperature range for the germination of seeds is 65° F to 90° F. The seeds may germinate in as little as three days if the temperature remains between 80° F and 90° F, but may take as long as 10 days if the temperatures are cooler.
Thin out the cluster of seedlings to one plant at each sowing site when they’ve grown to about 3 or 4 inches.
If you planted a vine variety, install a trellis in the early growth period for best results. Growing on a trellis also encourages the development of clean and straight fruit.
Step 4. Oversee flower and fruit development
Consistent moisture is a prime requirement. Water stress due to fluctuations between drought and flood conditions may lead to a bitter fruit. However, snake cucumbers can fairly withstand heat stress without affecting fruit quality.
The plant produces male and female flowers separately. Female flowers have an elongated swelling at their base, which differentiates them from the male flowers that often appear in clusters.
Both the male and female flowers are bright yellow. The male flowers appear first and fall off after a day or two. Female flowers usually follow a couple of weeks later, after which pollination occurs between the female and the new male flowers and fruits develop. The swelling at the base of the female flower is the starting of the fruit.
Fruits develop due to cross-pollination, carried out by bees or butterflies. If natural pollinators do not frequent your vegetable garden, you may need to hand-pollinate the flowers just like in pumpkin plants. Once pollinated, the female flower closes up, and you’ll see speedy fruit production.
Step 5. Harvest the Armenian cucumbers
Snake cucumbers can grow as long as 36 inches, but the size will depend upon the seed variety that you planted. To increase your yield, start picking the cucumbers when they reach 12 to 18 inches. Frequent picking will reduce the stress on the plant and encourage more fruit development.
- Keep an eye on the plants as the cucumbers develop fast.
- For the best flavor, pick the cucumbers early in the morning before sunlight hits them.
- Carefully snap off the stalks of the cucumbers between your fingers. Don’t stress or pull at the vine, as delicate vines are susceptible to damage.
- Don’t let any fruit get overripe. Not only will it result in loss of taste but may also signal completion of seed production to the plant, resulting in its shut down.
- The plants will keep producing as long as the weather stays warm.
- Refrigerate your harvested cucumbers until you are ready to eat them.
Tips for growing Armenian cucumber
- Do not plant Armenian cucumbers near other muskmelons and its varieties like honeydew or cantaloupe. It may result in a cross fruit.
- Cool the cucumbers immediately after harvesting by dunking them in ice water. This will increase their shelf life in the refrigerator.
- Cover the soil with mulch to conserve moisture and keep the number of weeds down. Using straw mulch also discourages slugs and cucumber beetles, as its rough texture hinders their movement.
- Plant sage, oregano, basil, lavender, yarrow, fennel, nettle, lilies, irises, foxglove and wild roses nearby to attract bees and butterflies to your garden and facilitate natural pollination.