BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), locally known as pipino, is a nutritious vegetable that’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, as well as vitamins B and C. It is usually consumed fresh, pickled, and even as a refreshing beverage.

Some folks even go beyond consumption cucumbers and use them as a skincare product to reduce puffiness around the eyes. 

These benefits are some of the reasons why gardeners like growing cucumbers. And fortunately, the process isn’t complicated. 

First, gardeners will need materials and tools. The list includes a sack, cucumber seeds, a shovel, compost, carbonized rice hull, and vermicast. 

It is important to note that cucumbers are ideally grown in loose soil that is rich in organic matter. 

Begin by preparing the cucumber seeds. Soak them in clean water that’s free from chlorine for 30 minutes.

Next, prepare the soil media. Mix carbonized rice hull, vermicompost, and compost following a ratio of 1:1:1. Proper growth of the cucumbers highly depends on the soil media, which is why it needs to be rich in nutrients.

Place the soil in a large container, like a sack, poke holes at the bottom to allow water drainage. Then, dig holes in the soil that’s about five to eight centimeters deep. 

Carefully plant the cucumber seeds in the holes, cover them with soil, water, and place them in a sunny area. Remember to water the plants every morning since these require a lot of water for them to grow. 

Promoting plant growth 

Once the cucumber plants have been secured in an ideal spot from growing, prepare another set of tools and materials that include vermicast, fermented fruit juice (FFJ), complete fertilizer with a ratio of 14-14-14, a sprayer, one liter of water, baking soda, vegetable oil, dishwashing liquid, and pruning shears. These will be used to foster healthy growth and protection against pests and diseases. 

After three to five days, the seeds will begin to germinate. And after 14 days, its vines will start growing longer, whereupon the gardener should create trellis to support the growth of these vines. 

To make a trellis, use a wooden post that’s 15 meters high and sturdy ligature materials such as wires and straws. Next, decrease the plants’ water intake by only watering them once a week. 

By 10 to 15 days, the cucumber plants can then be given additional inputs. When using inorganic fertilizer, dig a hole that measures about one to two centimeters around the plants’ leaves. Then, add one tablespoon of complete fertilizer to the hole. Cover with soil and water. 

For a natural approach, use vermicast instead of complete fertilizer and follow the same process. 

Dealing with pests

Cucumber plants are prone to pests such as thrips, aphids, yellow squash beetles, and fruit flies. Meanwhile, its common diseases consist of downy mildew, powdery mildew, as well as mosaic and bacterial wilt. 

To prevent pests and diseases from attacking the plants, one effective solution is to create homemade pesticides. 

Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and vegetable oil in one liter of water. Transfer to a sprayer and apply the solution onto the affected parts of the plants. 

If the cucumber plants grow abundantly and healthily, the harvesting period starts two months after planting. 

There’s a lot to be enjoyed from cucumbers. Not only is it a nutritious vegetable whose juice results in a refreshing drink, but it can also be used as a skincare product to reduce the puffiness around the eyes, making it a must-grow crop. 

The topic of how to grow cucumbers was discussed on AgriTalk 2021, where the series of webinars focused on how to grow different crops. 

Watch the video on how to grow cucumbers here.