Cucumber.–The custom of putting down cucumber pickles in the home kitchen is probably passing out; but both the pickling and the slicing cucumbers, especially the latter, are still an essential part of a good home garden. A stale or wilted cucumber is a very poor article of food.
For early use, the cucumber is usually started in a hotbed or cold frame by sowing the seed on pieces of sod 4 to 6 inches square, turned grass side down. Three or four seeds are placed on or pushed into each piece of sod and covered with 1 to 2 inches of fine soil. The soil should be well watered and the glass or cloth placed over the frame. The roots will run through the sod. When the plants are large enough to set out, a flat trowel or a shingle may be slipped under the sod and the plants moved to the hill without check. In place of sod, old quart berry-boxes are good; after setting in the hill the roots may force their way through the cracks in the baskets. The baskets also decay rapidly. Flower-pots may be used. These plants from the frames may be set out when danger of frost is over, usually by the 10th of May, and should make a very rapid growth, yielding good-sized fruits in two months. The hills should be made rich by forking in a quantity of compost, and given a slight elevation above the garden–not high enough to allow the wind to dry the soil, but slightly raised so that water will not stand around the roots.
The main crop is grown from seed planted directly in the open, and the plants are grown under level culture.
One ounce of seed will plant fifty hills of cucumbers. The hills may be 4 to 5 feet apart each way.
The striped beetle is an inveterate pest on cucumbers and squashes.