Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), which are mostly water, make a thirst-satisfying summer treat. If left to their own choices, cucumbers will grow along large areas of land and sprawl across the garden. Gardening vertically with cucumbers not only preserves garden space but also reduces rotting where the cucumber touches the ground. To garden vertically, you need to tie the cucumber to a fence or trellis as it grows. You can also start seeds indoors in a container filled with seed starting mix 4 weeks before the last average frost free date or they can be directly sowed in the garden after the average frost free date. In addition, cucumbers can be grown from cuttings and even overwintered this way.
Select a healthy shoot that is actively growing. Unhealthy shoots will be browning or withering while new growth is usually indicated by a lighter green as less chlorophyll has been accumulated in the tissue.
With a sharp knife, cut the shoot behind the second set of leaves from the tip so that you have the growing tip, a set of leaves and a second set of leaves. The buds nested between the leaves and the stem will turn into roots.
Remove the second set of leaves by pulling them backward and snapping the petiole of the leaf. Make sure not to damage the bud that is nestled between the leaf stem and the cucumber vine. Also, you do not want to remove the first set of leaves nearest the growing tip as your vine will need the energy captured by the leaves for the roots to grow.
Cut a half of each of the two remaining leaves away with your knife. Cucumber leaves are too large to be supported by the stem until the roots grow.
Dip the cut end of the cucumber into rooting hormone, which encourages the growing buds to become roots rather than leaves, and be sure to get some on the buds where you removed the leaves. Tap the stem cutting lightly to knock off any excess powdered rooting hormone.
Fill a 4-inch pot with potting soil. Push a pencil into the centre of the soil forming a hole.
Stick the cut end of the cucumber into the hole in the centre of the potting soil. Pack the soil around the cucumber cutting.
Water your planted cucumber vine cutting. Be sure to keep the cucumber from drying out while the roots grow. Roots should begin to grow within a few weeks, however, approximately how long it will take before the plant is strong enough to put out new leaves is somewhat unpredictable.
- University of Illinois: Cucumber
- "The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening"; Christopher Brickell; 1993
- If the leaves continue to wilt despite being cut in half, reduce the leaf size further.
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