Magazine article Sunset

Cucumbers under Control

Magazine article Sunset

Cucumbers under Control

Article excerpt

These bush varieties fit small spaces. Now's the time to order seeds

IF YOUR GARDEN IS small, and thoughts of sprawling vines deter you from growing cucumbers, consider a bush variety. A compact plant thrives in a container or in the ground and yields about two dozen or more sweet, juicy fruit per season. To find how bush cucumbers compared for plant size, vigor, disease resistance, productivity, and flavor, we planted seeds of seven varieties--including two pickling types. We sowed seeds last spring, after danger of frost had passed, in Sunset's Menlo Park, California, test garden. Here's what we learned.

Plants ranged from 24 to 88 inches across. Generally, the larger the plant, the more cucumbers it produced. 'Bush Baby', a pickler, was the most vigorous, longest-lived, and largest--not compact by our measurements. We harvested 99 cucumbers from the 88-inch plant. 'Bush Pickle' produced 34 cucumbers and measured 48 inches.

Among the slicing cucumbers, 'Bush Champion' topped the list at 43 cucumbers and 64 inches. Runners-up for fruit count were 'Salad Bush' (35 cucumbers, 44 inches), 'Bush Whopper' (28 cucumbers, 46 inches), 'Spacemaster' (20 cucumbers, 36 inches), and 'Pot Luck' (18 cucumbers, 24 inches).

'Bush Champion' and 'Salad Bush' ranked tops for sweet flavor in our tastings. Generally, flavor differences among slicers were subtle.

Plants are most productive when young. As they age, pests and disease diminish plant vigor, and fruit flavor and texture decline. …

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