Vegatable Cucumber belongs to the family of cucumbers (Cucumis sps) is widely cultivated & used in curry's in south india coastal belt, esp Mangalore.
Land selection & preparation
well drained loamy soils is best suited for sowing. It is necessary the soils must be fertile & supplemented with rich organic manure. it prefers pH of 5.5 to 6.5. However it cannot tolerate salt concentration.
clear weeds, unwanted plant material on the site of sowing the seeds. stones must be removed as germination is affected. in the monsoons , raised beds are made & seeds sown on them as shown in the above photo. the raised seed beds help prevent excess water from damaging the seeds. for quick germination, light, temperature & moisture play important role. when field condition is optimum, germination can be seen within a week after sowing. (see photo below )
above photo shows germination , 4 days after sowing
third week after germination
It is very important to constantly remove all weeds as it affects the main crop adversely. weeds act as a host to variety of insects which damage the tender leaves of the young plant.
Manuring & Fertilizer
responds well to NPK application. at 5th week, top dressing , earthing up & inter culture operations like weeding, should be performed. foliar sprays show better absorption of nutrients than soil application.
above 2 photos show crop stage after 5th week of sowing seeds.
well rotted farm yard manure should be applied to the base of the raised beds & top dressing is done. care must be taken to see that the farm yard manure is well rotted. if its fresh, it contains toxic ammonia gas, which gets released slowly, and it will damage the plant, even causing death.
since the vines grew long, it requires adequate water in the summer. here instead of raised beds, long rows are made, & the seeds sowed in them. light irrigation is recommended when the seedlings are still young and tender. too much moisture can cause fungal infections. at all times , crust formation should be checked & avoided.
during monsoon, irrigation is not necessary, but adequate height of the raised seed beds will ensure that water does not stagnate near the roots or it will kill the plant. proper channeling between the rows must be done to ensure flow of excess water away from the roots of the plant.
above photo shows crop stage after top dressing with farm yard manure 6 weeks from date of sowing. flower formation starts. plant hormones like NAA can be sprayed @1 ml per litre. this will increase the number of female flowers.
harvesting and post harvesting
green coloured vegetable cucumbers with white stripes turn yellow & this is a common harvest index. the fruits must be plucked at an interval of 2 days. seed formation takes place usually nearly a month after pollination. & the cucumbers selected for seeds must be tied using thread or strips of cloth, for identification purpose & must be harvested at much later stages.
above photo shows the vegetable cucumber in a semi ripe condition.
above photo shows the change in strip color to yellow, which means its ready for harvesting. the keeping quality of the fruit depends on the use of fertilizer inputs. in farms which practice organic methods, it is known to have a shelf life of more than 3 months.
semi ripe fruits are sometimes harvested, when the stripes are still green, & these fruits are used in salads & also in preparation of sweets.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza