When you think of a cucumber you usually think of a long, green plant that adds crunch to your salad with a watery taste. But did you know you can grow a whole variety of cucumbers, including lemon cucumbers?
Lemon cucumbers aren’t named after their flavor (though a lemon-flavored cucumber would make an amazing addition to any salad). They are named after the citrus fruit due to their lemon color and tennis ball shape.
Growing lemon cucumbers can make a great addition to your vegetable garden. They are easy to grow and offer a delicious alternative to your common variety of cucumber.
So why not consider growing lemon cucumbers in your vegetable garden as a tasty alternative to a standard cucumber.
What is a Lemon Cucumber?
Cucumbers are an edible type of gourd plant known as Cucurbitaceae. Lemon cucumbers are an alternative variety of cucumbers to the popular green oblong cucumbers sold in your local supermarket.
They are named after their lemon-colored skin and round shape, rather than their taste. A lemon cucumber plant isn’t very large, growing to the size of a tennis ball. However, the plant does require a lot of space due to it being a vine plant.
Though they are thought of and treated as a vegetable, cucumber plants are botanically classed as a fruit. Just like apples, strawberries, and bananas, cucumbers grow from flowers and contain seeds.
Top Tips for Growing Lemon Cucumbers
Though lemon cucumbers are relatively easy to grow, they do still require specific care and considerations to thrive.
Just like any plant, there are optimum conditions that are ideal if you can achieve so that your plants can grow healthy, strong, and bear more produce.
Here are 5 top tips to consider when growing lemon cucumbers:
Lemon cucumber plants are a type of vine plant. This means that they can spread out and take up a lot of space.
If you have limited space within your garden, it might be worth considering using support and training your lemon cucumber plant to grow upwards around it. For sturdy support, you can use trellis or bamboo sticks.
Alternatively, you can grow them in a large container and either using support or allow them to spread naturally.
However, if you do have the space, it is best to grow lemon cucumber plants in your vegetable garden either directly in the ground or within raised garden beds.
When watering your lemon cucumber plant, be sure to always water the soil surrounding the base of your plant avoiding the leaves.
The leaves retain a lot of water which makes them susceptible to mildew. Mildew is bad news for any plant as it causes stress and weakens the plant increasing the risk of other diseases. An infected plant would need isolating and mildew removal.
Lemon cucumber plants should be watered every other day when planted in the ground. If you have chosen to grow your plant within a container, it will need watering daily as pots do not retain water as well as ground soil.
Lemon cucumbers grow best in full sun when the soil is warm, around 55F or 12C. It is best to wait until mid to late May before planting your cucumbers.
The condition of your soil is important for giving your lemon cucumbers a good start. Lemon cucumbers require good drainage so their roots aren’t sitting in water and are at risk of root rot.
To ensure your soil has good drainage, use a fork to lift and turn your soil. Add compost for additional nutrients and to help to loosen the soil so it is less compact.
Unfortunately, lemon cucumbers are prone to pests such as aphids and beetles. Introducing ladybirds into your garden is an excellent way to help control pests as natural predators.
You can either purchase ladybirds or plant marigolds in between your cucumbers. These naturally attract ladybirds into your garden and will help lower the number of pests attacking your lemon cucumber plants.
How to Grow Lemon Cucumbers in a Vegetable Garden
Lemon cucumbers are relatively easy to grow and can be planted from seeds directly in your soil. Remember to check the temperature of the soil, turn and add compost to give your lemon cucumber plants a good start.
They also love the sun, so it is best to plant them in an area of your vegetable garden that gains full sunlight throughout the day.
Ensure there is plenty of room between each lemon cucumber within your vegetable garden. If you are using support to encourage the vines to grow upwards, then you will not need quite as much space. But if grown loosely on the ground, your plants will need at least 30-60 inches of space between each one.
Once you have marked space to grow the lemon cucumber plants, plant 4-6 seeds together about 1 inch deep into the soil and cover.
Now your seeds are planted, water the soil regularly about every other day or once a day when it is particularly hot. They prefer damp soil that isn’t drenched, so check the soil condition by dipping your finger about an inch into the soil to see how moist it is.
In around 1-2 weeks, the seeds should begin to sprout. Your cucumbers will be ready to harvest after approximately 60 days of sowing the seeds.
When taking care of your lemon cucumber plants, regularly check for pests and mold. These will impact your plant’s health and need addressing to help keep your plants healthy and strong.
Your plants are ready to harvest when the lemon cucumbers are bright yellow and the size of a tennis ball.
Remove your ripe lemon cucumbers with garden shears to not damage the rest of the vine. The fruits themselves are quite hairy, but this can be rubbed off when you are preparing them to eat.
If you would like to grow lemon cucumbers annually, a good top tip is to leave one lemon cucumber on the vine for the whole season. At the end of the season, this fruit will be soft and easy to collect the seeds from.
Wash and dry these seeds so they are prepared for the following growing season. Store them in a cool place such as your refrigerator until the following May when they can be planted.
Lemon Cucumbers: A Tasty and Colorful Alternative
If you are looking for an easy addition to grow in your vegetable garden, why not consider growing lemon cucumbers?
Lemon cucumbers are easy to maintain and offer a tasty and colorful alternative to a standard cucumber.
With a little bit of room and planted carefully alongside marigolds, your lemon cucumbers will thrive in your vegetable garden.
For more growing guides and top tips for a successful vegetable garden, take a look at these posts: