Vines and bushes are the two forms in which cucumber plant grows. Vines need space to spread out along the ground or climb up a trellis, while bush types form a more compact plant better suited to containers and small gardens. Generally, vine cucumber will yield more fruit throughout the growing season, but you can get a bigger harvest from bush varieties by planting several crops two weeks apart.
Cucumbers need warm, fertile soil that allows them to form a deep root system. If cucumbers are to be grown on land, plant seedlings 36 to 60 inches apart (depending on their variety). A thick layer of mulch made up of straw or chopped leaves should be laid down shortly after planting. The rough terrain will not only be uncomfortable for slugs and other garden pests that would munch on your cucumbers, but it will also help keep the fruit clean and relatively dry.
What is a Pickling Cucumber?
Cucumbers for pickling refer to cucumbers that are used for processing or making pickles. This doesn’t mean they can’t be eaten fresh, but their thinner skins, crunchy texture, and smaller seeds make them ideal for pickling. Their flesh and skin also tend to be thicker and crispier than slicing varieties as well. This combination of unique traits makes them perfect for the pickling process. Because of their qualities and small size, they are recommended for the production of pickles. Pickling cucumbers are short with graduating hues of dark green at the stem to light green at the blossom end. Pickling Cucumber Varieties have tenacious tendrils that grasp onto fences or trellises easily.
While some cucumbers can take over the garden, there are newer varieties with shorter vine lengths for smaller gardens. Calypso, Royal, and H-19 Little Leaf are pickling that grows to just about 4-6 feet (1-2 m.) in length. If this seems too large, train the vine to grow back in to conserve space. Also, consider growing pickling cucumbers vertically if space is at a premium. Pickalot and National Pickling are revered pickling cukes. Other varieties of pickling cucumbers include Adam Gherkin, Boston Pickling, Calypso, Eureka, Homemade Pickling Jackson, Northern Pickling Sassy, Wealthy Salt, and Pepper (white cultivar). Pickling cucumbers are typically shorter than slicing cucumbers.
Best Pickling Cucumbers To Grow
#1. Boston Pickling Cucumber
When it comes to delicious pickling cucumber varieties, the Boston Pickling cucumber is near the top of the list. The cucumber is seedless with incredible flavor and crispness. It is a big producer.
It was believed to be first developed back in the 1800’s in Boston, Massachusetts, and draws its name from the city. The cucumber plant produces a large quantity of 3 to 4″ smooth-skinned cukes on long vines. Making it even more attractive to pickle makers, it matures quickly. Cucumbers can be ready to pick in as little as 50 to 55 days.
Plants should be spaced 24 to 36 inches apart in fertile, well-drained soil. Support in the way of a trellis or fence is an excellent choice to make for easy picking.
#2. The National Pickling Cucumber
The National Pickling Cucumber is the perfect cucumber for making all types of pickles. Whether it is picking young cukes to make gherkins, or letting them grow to 4 or 5 inches for making spears or slicing cucumbers, the National is an All-Star multi-purpose cucumber. National Pickling is good for dill pickles, these vines can either grow on the ground or with support. This variety produces fruit about 6 inches in length with thin skin that are ready to harvest in 50 days.
This variety was developed back in the day with help from the National Pickle Packers Association. With thicker, dark green skin and a super crunch, the cucumber simply makes outstanding pickles. Plants produce a heavy yield of cucumbers continually throughout the season on long vines. They take a bit longer to mature at 65 days, but well worth the wait. It produces solid, crispy, dark-green, blocky fruit up to 5 to 7 inches long, 2½ inches wide; black spines
#3. The Bush Pickle
Of all the pickling cucumber varieties, the Bush Pickle cucumber is the best to plant when space is at a premium. It produces sweet, smooth-skinned cucumbers on compact plants. Mature cucumbers range from 3 to 5 inches in size, and fruit sets on bushy plants that grow 24 to 36 inches in height. The Bush Pickle is an early producer. Cucumbers can mature in as little as 50 to 55 days. It produces tasty and crispy fruit. The pickles produced from this variety is deep-green with pale green stripes to 4½ inches long, 1½ inches across; blocky, classic pickle look. Very productive, compact vines to 2 feet long; making it suitable for containers.
#4. County Fair 83.
This variety matures in 48-53 days. It produces sweet, full flavor, mild, easy to digest, no bitterness Fruit which grows up to 3 inches long. It is an almost seedless cucumber variety if kept away from other cucumbers.
Regal matures between 48-52 days. This variety is resistant to most diseases. Their long, slim shape makes them a great option for making for pickle chips. They are early producers with high yields over long season.
Saladin matures in 55 days. They are crispy and tender skinned. For pickling or fresh eating; they can be picked at any stage of growth. They appear to be curved, bright-green fruit, growing up to about 5 inches long and 1¾ inches wide and with small seeds. Saladin is a good choice for greenhouse growing
This dark green variety grows short, thick fruit which is about three inches long. These varieties are early producers as they mature in 50 days. The vines do best with some support from a trellis or cage.
#7. Little Leaf
This vine variety needs room to spread out, with smaller than normal leaves which make it easy to spot fruit when harvesting. The cucumbers grow up to 3- 5 inches in length and are ready to be harvested in 60 days.
This variety grows quickly, reaching maturity in just 50 days. The fruit grows to 3 inches long with a noticeable white spine. Support with a trellis or cage should be provided to maximize yield.