Monday, August 13th, 2007...5:57 pm

Sex Therapy for Cucumbers


TheGardenLady received this question from Jenny.

I am growing lemon cucumber this year for the first time on a trellis in my garden in the Chicago area. I have many plants that are thriving and have dozens of blossoms. My problem is that only one blossom has set fruit so far. The plants get about 8 hours of sun and otherwise look very healthy. I have a newly planted garden bed that I created out of vermiculite, peatmoss, and compost. The Kentucky wonder beans growing on the same trellis are fruiting (I have picked several meals of beans over the last 4 weeks) but the cucumbers are not.

The lemon cucumber is an heirloom cucumber which means that when you get fruit you can save the seeds and plant them next year, they will grow true to the parent.
It sounds like you are doing everything right with your planting. You also say that your plants are healthy which means that you haven’t seen cucumber beetles. That is  excellent. So the problems sounds like it has something to do with pollination. 
Male flowers generally appear 2 weeks before the female flowers on the cucumber. For an illustration of a male and female flower go to this site.  The first 10 or 20 flowers are male and do not produce fruit, they will drop off. Perhaps your female flowers have not started blooming.  You can be patient and wait to see if you get more fruit.
Cucumbers need bees to pollinate them. There has been a dearth of honey bees in some areas. You may want to try pollinating the flowers on your plants. You can tell the female flower from the male flower because the female flower has a small bud beneath it. Take a Q-Tip and first swirl it in the male flower. Then find a female flower and take that same Q-tip and swirl it in the female flower. Then watch to see if fruit form.
 Good Luck and please let TheGardenLady’s readers know if you have success.  

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