We asked the team behind City Blossoms, one of our local charitable partners, to share a few handy tips on growing our May spotlight ingredient – cucumber – at home. Here’s what they had to say: 

1. There are many varieties of cucumbers to choose from! Some of our favorites to grow are the Suyo Longs and Lemon Cucumbers.

2. Cucumbers do well directly seeded into well draining, healthy soil in a sunny spot. Once they start growing, they move fast.

3. Protect your cucumbers from the dreaded cucumber beetle and squash vine borer!

The cucumber beetle can look like a yellow ladybug, but its body is more elongated. It also can have black and yellow stripes. This pest can transmit bacterial wilt to the plant, which will make it sage no matter how much you water. The squash vine borer makes its way into the stem of the plant and chews it up so it looks like your plant was attacked by couscous. Not good! If you find evidence of borers, try to find them (they are gross and grubby looking) and smush them. Then cover up the cut in the stem with soil to encourage root development. Both of these pests can be treated with neem oil – use according to directions so you don’t kill off beneficial insects.

4. Set up some stakes – cucumbers will climb a trellis and it will keep the fruit from resting too long on the soil and getting moldy.

5. Water well – cucumbers are made up mostly of water, so make sure to set up a regular and deep watering for the plants so that they will fill out and taste delicious. Also, once they start to mature, pick them quickly! This will encourage the plant to produce more, and then the cukes won’t get old and bitter.

City Blossoms is a DC-based non-profit organization that’s committed to creating kid-driven green spaces that teach youngsters about gardening, sustainability, and healthy eating. The organization’s art-based, hands-on approach has led to the success of thriving community spaces like the Girard Children’s Community Garden in Petworth and the Marion Street Intergenerational Garden near Logan Circle.

Happy growing!