Garden Update: Cucumbers and Taking A Risk

We’ve had some weird weather up here in Maine lately. The saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” is normally pretty true, but it’s been really interesting this spring. We had a couple weeks of super dry weather that was near freeze at night but warm in the day, followed by a week of drenching rain and general wet, overcast and gross conditions, followed by scorching hot weather over the last couple days.

While most of the garden is tolerating this pretty well, our cucumbers are not happy.

Cucumbers_053113 (1) Cucumbers_053113 (5)

We admittedly took a risk by planting cukes early this year. Our frost date is May 31st and we planted May 18th. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t. This year we haven’t been so lucky but all is not lost, since some of the plants aren’t completely destroyed yet.

I spent about an hour on the internet trying to figure out what on earth was wrong with my plants but couldn’t pinpoint something that exactly matched. It was only then I looked at the MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmer and Gardeners Association) May 29th Pest Report, and what did I see as the very first item but “Cucumber Problems“.

Cucumbers_053113 (6)

Apparently the weather has caused widespread damping off and susceptibility to disease which seems to be what is our issue too. I was really confused when I was trying to research our issue initially because some of our plants were spotted, while others were missing spots like the spots had merged together, dried and fallen out (no signs of insect damage, no web like items or mildew on back of leaves), and other plants were completely wilted and dead. It made no sense.  I even pulled up one of each to check the roots and stem. I then dissected the stem for signs of insect infestation or disease, but they all looked good. After I read the report I realized all of the smallest seedlings wilted and the bigger seedlings had survived (so far), albeit in rough condition.

Cucumbers_053113 (4)What I read in the pest report definitely made sense, but I’d still like to know what is causing the missing leaf parts and spots in the photos above (I assume it’s the same thing, just at different levels). The “true” leaves (in the center) all look good, but I have a feeling if the issue is bacterial or fungal the disease will pass onto the primary plant. I’d love to know whether I need to be ripping out the plant entirely and amending my soil, just treating the plant with something organic, or leave it alone. We’ll wait a couple more weeks and go buy a six pack of seedlings, which will be bigger and heartier, to replant and we’ll see what happens in that time. I might even email MOFGA to get their perspective.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but at the end of it all we’ll still win. Whether we have cucumbers or not we’ll definitely learn some things, and we’ll have other veggies to make us happy. Growing your own food is definitely a learning curve and there’s always something to keep you on your toes. We had a few years of beautiful cucumber production, followed by insect decimation last year, and now this. I am bound and determined to get some cucumbers to grow in this garden again, but if it’s not this year, that’s okay.

And so it goes…






2 thoughts on “Garden Update: Cucumbers and Taking A Risk

  1. We’re having a frustrating weather weekend here. It’s Sunday, the second of only two days of the week in which I am home all day long, and I had plans for today–plans with a tractor and dirt and rocks and bricks. However, I am currently sitting inside on the couch reading blogs because it’s better than being trapped in the driveshed as the rain teems down. The sun keeps coming out tempting me to go outside, but then the skies open up and the rain comes down. And even if the weather clears, I don’t know how much I’m going to accomplish, as I don’t really feel like being covered head to toe in mud. Anyways, apparently I’m a bit frustrated. This comment is far enough off topic and quite long enough, so I will stop. Good luck with the cukes. Hopefully MOFGA is able to help. It’s great to have a group like that to consult.

    1. That’s frustrating! I’m sorry to hear it Julia. MOFGA wrote back and they seem to think (as long as our weather stops being so temperamental) that the plants look healthy enough to outgrow whatever is happening to them. Crossing fingers (and still buying new plants to replace the ones we’ve lost).


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