Growing Armenian cucumbers is the best way to ensure a steady supply of ‘cucumbers’ during the heat of the summer in hot climates.
First cultivated in Armenia in the 15th century, Armenian cucumbers (also called yard-long cucumbers) are actually not cucumbers at all – they are a ribbed variety of musk melon that tastes similar to a cucumber and looks like a cucumber inside. They are also high in vitamins A, C, and K, and potassium.
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5 Tips for How to Grow Armenian Cucumbers
1. Plant Armenian cucumbers at the right time
Before planting, prepare soil by amending with compost.
When it is warm outside (consistent days above 65℉, and 80℉ is even better), plant 2-3 seeds ½ to 1 inch deep about 1 foot apart. When seeds are 3-4 inches tall, thin to 1 plant every foot. Although they are heat-tolerant, they require even and consistent watering to prevent them from becoming bitter.
Planting dates for the low desert of Arizona:
- Start seeds indoors: January 15 – June 15
- Plant outside: February 15 – July 15
Although you can plant transplants, Armenian cucumber seeds do best directly sown in garden. Click here for Armenian cucumber seeds.
Heat tolerance is Armenian cucumbers number one attribute; high temperatures do not stress these plants. Armenian cucumbers are one of only a handful of vegetables that can be planted through the beginning of July in the low desert.
2. Give Armenian cucumbers room to grow in the garden
Armenian cucumbers love to vine and can easily take over a garden. Give the vines something to climb. If you are looking for vertical gardening ideas, read this post.
- Do not overcrowd plants – crowded plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases such as powdery mildew and squash bugs.
- Rotate where you plant Armenian cucumbers – do not plant in the same area as you previously planted other melons, squash, or cucumbers.
- Corn is a good companion plant for Armenian cucumbers, and they may climb the corn as they would a trellis.
- Armenian cucumbers are best grown on some sort of trellis to keep them off the ground. Trellised fruits will grow straighter.
3. Pay attention to the flowers
Armenian cucumbers have both male and female flowers. Male flowers will appear first and will continue to bloom; about 2 weeks later the first female flowers will appear. Both types of flowers are yellow. Male flowers will bloom and be visited by a pollinator to pass the pollen onto the female flower, then wither and fall off. Female flowers are bulbous, will bloom, and if pollinated will develop into fruit.
Blooms are numerous, and hand-pollination is usually not necessary. Encourage bees by planting oregano, basil, and other flowering plants nearby.
4. Harvesting tips for Armenian cucumbers
- Although fruits can grow to 3 feet long in a hurry, they are best picked between 12-18 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter.
- Pick fruit early in the day and immerse in ice cold water to lengthen storage time.
- Cut off fruit from vine; pulling can damage vine.
- Leaving fruit on the vine too long signals to the plant to slow or stop production.
- Larger fruit have larger more noticeable seeds.
- Larger fruit tastes more like a watermelon rind and less like a cucumber.
5. Enjoy the harvest of Armenian cucumbers from your garden
A few plants will give you almost more Armenian cucumbers than you can use. Here are a few ways to enjoy them:
- No need to peel; skin on young Armenian cucumbers is thin and edible.
- Use as you would cucumbers in salad, dips, sushi, or sandwiches.
- Armenian cucumbers are delicious pickled.
- Try grilling them in vegetable kabobs or puréeing in smoothies.
- Excellent with pork, fish, mint, oregano, dill, yogurt, and feta cheese.
Looking for more information on growing cucumbers in Arizona? This article will tell you what you need to know.
Summer gardening in Arizona can be a challenge. This post gives you the information to be successful.