You can plant cucumbers by squash in the garden, but there are several arguments for and against that you should explore before doing so. Both squash and cucumbers are members of the same plant family, the cucurbits. They are planted at similar times, can be planted for spring and fall crops, and both require warm soils and have similar watering needs.
Both squash and cucumbers depend on bees for pollination. According to Hamilton County Extension Agent Tom Stebbins, the female flowers of vining crops tend to open for one day only, so bees need to regularly visit the area to ensure good crop production; bees are more likely to be around if abundant food options exist to attract them to the garden.
Gardeners need not worry about cross-pollination occurring between squash and cucumbers. Despite the fact that they flower at the same time and are visited by the same pollinators, the female flowers of one crop cannot become fertilized by the pollen of the other. Gardeners do need to be aware that both of these crops can cross with others within their species, so most summer squash, winter squash, gourds and pumpkins can cross with one another, and cucumbers and melons can cross. This won't affect the produce you see the year they cross-pollinate, but will show up in the next year's crop if you save and replant seed from the crossed crop.
The prevalence of diseases common to both squash and cucumbers may be the best argument for and against planting these crops together in the garden. Serious infections such as Phytophthora blight, Anthracnose and gummy stem blight may be passed among cucumbers and squash. Gardeners are warned to practice crop rotation to prevent disease and act against some pests, waiting one to four years between plantings of cucurbits in the same plot. If you plant your squash and cucumbers together during the same year, you can get more cucurbit use out of the space before you have to rotate in another crop.
Because both cucumbers and squash are vining crops, space may be a factor in considering placing the two close to each other. Growers can get around this problem by training the vines of the plants onto a trellis, planting in succession, staggering the crops or selecting cultivars with a bush-type growth habit in one to pair with a vining-type cultivar of the other.
- Chattanooga Times Free Press; Stebbins: Time for a Little Talk About Plant Sex; Tom Stebbins; July 3, 2010
- Iowa State University Extension; Horticulture and Home Pest News: Cross-Pollination Between Vine Crops; Linda Naeve; Aug. 23, 1996
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Summer Squash; Bob Polomski, et al.; March 2000
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Cucumber; Nancy Doubrava, et al.; May 1999
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow -- Cucumber
- Ohio State University Extension; Phytophthora Blight of Pepper and Cucurbits; Sally A. Miller, et al.
- Photo Credit Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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