What was wrong with my cucumbers?

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Cucumbers and pickles are extremely prolific if given the right care and conditions.

SHAIITH / ADOBE STOCK / Stuff

Cucumbers and pickles are extremely prolific if given the right care and conditions.

Question:

I have trouble growing cucumbers and pickles. Last year my plants had whiteflies and powdery mildew. This year the leaves have dry brown spots and cracked, tired edges, and a few baby cucumbers have fallen off before they ripen. How can I get a good harvest?

Dry, cracked patches on cucumber leaves are signs of a fungal disease called leaf spot.

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY / WIKIMEDIA / Stuff

Dry, cracked patches on cucumber leaves are signs of a fungal disease called leaf spot.

To respond:

Growing cucumbers can be a challenge in wet or cool spring weather. They need a little more sweetness than their easy-to-grow cousins, but aren’t as picky as melons.

Dry, cracked leaves and loss of immature fruit indicate a fungal disease called leaf spot. If the plant is mature enough, you can still get a harvest, but pick it as soon as possible – when it’s still small, but big enough to be worth eating.

Try spraying with a copper oxychloride fungicide, Grosafe Free Flo Copper or similar. It’s a preventative rather than a cure, but it could help keep new growth disease-free long enough for some cucumbers to ripen. Continue to spray every two weeks and remember to check the pre-harvest waiting period.

Don’t compost diseased material – burn it or throw it in the trash.

Reduce the risk of fungal diseases next season by rotating your crops. Wait two years or more before planting cucumbers (or their relatives, watermelons, squash, and pumpkins) in the same soil.

READ MORE:
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Whiteflies congregate under the leaves of a wide range of plants in greenhouses and outdoors.

vanessa phillips

Whiteflies congregate under the leaves of a wide range of plants in greenhouses and outdoors.

Whiteflies love the warm, sheltered, dry conditions of greenhouses, but can also be harmful to outdoor plants. They mostly congregate on the undersides of leaves and fly away if disturbed. Scale-like larvae suck sap from leaves, weakening the plant and spreading disease.

As soon as you spot them, target the larvae by spraying the undersides of the leaves with Mavrik, Grosafe Enspray 99, Nature’s Way Insect Spray or Neem oil to prevent population buildup. You will need to coat the surfaces well and repeat regularly when you see the hatching of new generations.

Powdery mildew affects all zucchini, including cucumbers, zucchini, melons and pumpkins.

RASBAK/SEBASTIAN 123RF/Stuff

Powdery mildew affects all zucchini, including cucumbers, zucchini, melons and pumpkins.

Powdery mildew is common in warm conditions. Small patches of white mold appear on the tops of the leaves and quickly cover the entire plant. Spray with Growsafe Enspray 99 or try a homemade baking soda spray (1 tablespoon to 2 liters of water plus 1 teaspoon cooking oil and a drop of dish soap) or milk (1/3 of milk for 2/3 of water). But alas, spraying new leaves to slow the rate of infection won’t magically cure those already covered in mold.

These cucumbers climb a frame to keep them above the ground and increase air movement around the leaves.

RACHEL CLARE / Stuff

These cucumbers climb a frame to keep them above the ground and increase air movement around the leaves.

Cucumbers like warm, generally dry conditions, good air circulation and low humidity. Plant them in a sunny location with loose, crumbly soil and good drainage.

Do not plant seedlings too early; late October or November is quite early, especially if spring starts late.

Grow cucumbers on a trellis or teepee to keep them above ground and increase air movement. Water them abundantly but not too often, without wetting the leaves.


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