The crystal apple cucumber--also called the crystal lemon--is round, like an apple, yellow, like a lemon. Its edible skin is sweet and crisp, making it suitable for salads or for eating raw. Crystal apple cucumbers grow best outdoors in a warm climate. Heated greenhouses are also effective. By following a few simple steps, you can have these versatile cucumbers fresh from your backyard 60 days after you sow the seeds. Enjoy these home-grown cucumbers until the middle of September if you grow them indoors. If you grow them outdoors, they will give you fruit until around the middle of October.
Things You'll Need
- Crystal apple cucumber seeds
- Biodegradable germinating pots 3 inch x 3 inch in size
- Seed compost
- Garden canes
- Garden bags
Sow the seeds in germinating pots at the end of April if you are planting them in a heated greenhouse. If you will be planting them outside, begin sowing mid-spring, that is before the middle of May. If you sow them outside make sure they are in an area safe from sun and rain. Water them yourself as the rain may be too strong and wash away the seeds.
Fill the germinating pots with a mixture of soil and seed compost. Make a hole that is 3/4 inch deep, and put two seeds into the hole. Cover the seed with dirt and water it lightly. From this time on, the soil for these plants should always be kept moist. The ideal temperature for germination is around 75 degrees F.
Inspect and compare the saplings with one another when the plants are almost 1 inch tall. Discard any comparatively weak looking saplings. Gently tie the healthy plants to the garden canes with the string to give them support.
Move the saplings that were in the greenhouse outdoors in May. Replant all saplings to large garden bags in May, two in each garden bag. This will give the roots more space to grow. If you used biodegradable germinating pots you can just moisten the pots and put the whole pot in the soil in the garden bags. Support the saplings by tying them gently to the garden canes. Allow the plants to acclimate by first placing the bags in a shady but warm place for a couple of days, then in a sunny spot.
Plant them in the ground when they are sturdy. Put only one sapling per large pot if planting in pots. The tops of the roots should be level with the soil.
Lay a bed of dry straw around the plants. This will keep the fruit from sitting directly on soil, which could make them rot.
Pluck the tip of each main shoot once it has seven leaves.
Count seven leaves in from the tips of side shoots and pluck off there unless you first come to a shoot with a flower that has the beginnings of a fruit, in this case, pluck off the stem two leaves before the flower.
Feed plants a potash or tomato fertilizer every two weeks once fruits start to grow.
Pick fruits when they are lemon yellow and the size of small apples or two to three inches in diameter. This practice will provide you with many fruits during their season. Be sure to pick fruits before they turn golden orange. Use a pair of garden shears or a sharp knife to cut the fruits from the plant.
Tips & Warnings
- Use a propagator to encourage germination, once you have planted the seeds in the soil.
- Harvest the crystal apple cucumbers at regular intervals to encourage growth.
- Protect plants from mice. There is a tendency for mice to sniff the plants out and eat them before harvest.
- Only pluck the male flowers from the plants if you are planting them indoors. The male flowers do not have a bulge on the outer base of the flower, which is the beginning of the fruits.
- Harvest at the right time. A delay could result in the fruit turning bitter and developing many seeds.
- Photo Credit seeds and pots image by Richard Seeney from Fotolia.com