If you’re looking for a delicious way to enjoy fresh cucumbers in the heat of summer, look no further than Armenian cucumbers. These unique veggies thrive in hot climates and offer a delicious, refreshing taste that’s perfect for salads, pickles, and more. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow Armenian cucumbers.
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Are Armenian cucumbers really cucumbers?
First cultivated in Armenia in the 15th century, Armenian cucumbers (also called yard-long cucumbers), despite their name and appearance, are not true cucumbers. They are actually a type of musk melon (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus) that belongs to the same family as cucumbers. However, they taste similar to cucumbers and have a similar internal structure, which is why they are commonly called and treated as cucumbers in culinary contexts.
6 Tips for How to Grow Armenian Cucumbers
1. Plant Armenian cucumbers at the right time
These plants are particularly well-suited for hot climates as they tolerate higher temperatures than most cucumber varieties. This makes them an excellent choice for gardeners in warmer regions who struggle to grow traditional cucumbers. Armenian cucumbers are one of only a handful of vegetables that can be planted through July in the low desert.
Before planting, prepare the soil by amending it with compost.
Plant Armenian cucumber seeds when it is warm outside (consistent days above 65℉/18°C and 80℉/26°C are even better).
Plant 2-3 seeds ½ to 1″ (1-2cm) deep, about 1 foot (30cm) apart. When seeds are 3-4″ (75-100cm) tall, thin to 1 plant every foot (30cm).
Planting dates for the low desert of Arizona:
Although you can plant transplants, Armenian cucumber seeds do best directly sown in the garden. Click here for Armenian cucumber seeds.
2. Plant Armenian cucumbers in the best location
- Choose a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight. Afternoon shade is preferred but not required in hot summer climate areas.
- Armenian cucumbers are best grown on some sort of trellis to keep them off the ground. Trellised fruits will grow straighter. Armenian cucumbers love to vine and can easily take over a garden. If you are looking for vertical gardening ideas, read this post.
- Do not overcrowd plants. Crowded plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases like powdery mildew and squash bugs. Allow at least one foot (30cm) between plants for vertical gardening and 2-3 feet (60-90cm) if plants are left to sprawl.
- 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.
Looking for ways to add vertical space to your garden? This post shares 10 of my favorite ideas.
In this blog post, find more ways to add vertical space to your garden.
3. Caring for Armenian Cucumbers
While they do need consistent moisture, Armenian cucumbers are more drought-tolerant than common cucumber varieties. This makes them a good option for gardeners in areas with water restrictions or those looking for low-water-use plants.
Mulch the soil around Armenian cucumbers.
Armenian cucumbers have both male and female flowers. Male flowers will appear first and continue to bloom; about two 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, develop into a fruit.
4. Prune Armenian cucumbers and remove suckers as needed
Cut off any yellowing or diseased leaves, as they can drain energy from the plant.
Pruning suckers is not necessary but may be helpful to control the size and spread of the vine and improve air circulation and sunlight exposure. Be careful to only prune side shoots and not the main vine itself. Here’s how:
- Locate the main vine of your Armenian cucumber plant. This is the thickest and longest vine that grows directly from the base of the plant.
- Find a side shoot growing from the base of a leaf stem.
- Follow it down to where it connects with the main vine.
- Cut the side shoot about 1/4 inch above the main vine. If a female blossom is present on the side shoot, cut just after that fruit, ensuring not to damage the main vine.
Prune some side shoots, but don’t remove all of them. Leaving a few shoots will help the plant maintain its structure and balance and also ensures there are plenty of male blossoms. I usually leave most of the side shoots in place. Pruning is an art, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes.
5. Harvesting tips for Armenian cucumbers
Armenian cucumbers are prolific producers, and if you keep harvesting them regularly, they will continue to produce throughout the season. This ensures you have a steady supply of fresh “cucumbers” all summer long.
- Some varieties can grow to 3 feet (90cm) long quickly. They are best picked between 12-18″ (30-45cm) long and 2 ½” (2.5cm) in diameter.
- Pick fruit early in the day and immerse it in a bowl filled with ice water to lengthen storage time.
- Cut off fruit from the vine, as pulling can damage the vine.
- Leaving fruit on the vine too long signals the plant to slow or stop production.
- Larger fruit has larger, more noticeable seeds.
- Larger fruit tastes more like a watermelon rind and less like a cucumber.
6. Enjoy the harvest of Armenian cucumbers from your garden
Armenian cucumbers are known for their mild, slightly sweet flavor and lack of bitterness often found in other cucumber varieties. This makes them a great addition to a variety of dishes without overpowering the other flavors.
I love cutting up Armenian cucumbers and eating them fresh. They are so good! You’ll have enough, however, that you’ll need additional ways to use them. My favorite ways include eating them raw in salads and sandwiches and pickling them. They maintain their crunch when cooked and can be a delightful addition to stir-fries or grilled vegetable dishes.
- No need to peel; the skin on young Armenian cucumbers is thin and edible.
- Use as you would cucumbers in salad, dips, sushi, or sandwiches.
- 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.