Here are some secrets on How to Avoid Bitter Cucumbers and Grow Sweet & Juicy Fruits! After reading this, you’ll have the tastiest harvest!
Hardly any gardeners have not had any experience of growing bitter cucumbers. When it is grown under the wrong growing conditions, it can start to taste bitter or become tasteless. Check out our complete guide on How to Avoid Bitter Cucumbers and Grow Sweet & Juicy Fruits.
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What Makes Cucumbers Bitter?
Extreme differences in temperatures like too cold or too hot, along with a lack of water, can make the fruits taste bitter.
However, some cucumbers may taste slightly bitter by nature as they are full of the organic compound known as Cucurbitacins that can make the fruit bitter.
How to Avoid Bitter Cucumbers and Grow Sweet & Juicy Fruits?
1. Protect From High Temperatures
Consistently higher temperatures than 90°F or 32°C can stress the plant and make them taste bitter. Keep the plant safe from the intense afternoon sun.
2. Harvest Them on Time
Cucumbers are ready for harvest 50-70 days from planting. They become less delicious and bitter when they become too large.
The right size to harvest cucumbers is about 6-8 inches for American slicers, 8-12 inches for Asian varieties, 4-6 inches for Middle Eastern kinds, and 3-5 inches for pickling types.
3. Grow with Sunflowers
Sunflowers are known to release an enzyme called Elastase that naturally reduces the number of cucurbitacins in cucumber.
The cucumber tendrils use the stout sunflower stalks for support while climbing up, and you will find some of the sweetest tasting cucumbers you have ever eaten.
4. Right Spot and Spacing
When growing cucumbers, you will need to plant them in a sunny location. Space them 10-12 inches apart. If growing in a raised bed, space the mounds at least 3-4 feet apart to allow them to grow well, without any bitterness.
5. No Frost, Please!
For sweeter cucumbers, you need to set out the transplants or sow the seeds after all the danger of frost has passed. Allow the soil to be as warm as 60°F or 16°C so there is no chance of frost stressing.
6. Water Them Right
During the early stages of growth, water stress such as underwatering or overwatering can cause Cucurbitacin (bitter-tasting compound) to become concentrated in the fruit and make it bitter.
Water the cucumber plants deeply 2-3 times a week, or you can place the plants on a drip so that the soil stays even and consistently moist but not wet.
7. Add Mulch
Once the soil is as warm as 70°F or 21°C, you can help it lower the rate of moisture evaporation by adding mulch to the plants using black plastic or organic mulch.
Adding mulch will also lower weeds that start competing for nutrients and soil moisture ripping your cucumbers off the necessary ingredients to grow sweet.
8. Grow Sweeter Varieties
To avoid bitter cucumbers, you can consider choosing much sweeter varieties and not bitter ones. Some of the best types with low cucurbitacins are Jazzer, Eversweet, Long Green Improved, Holland, Aria, Diva, Lemon, and Marketmore 97.
9. Use a Rich Growing Medium
Cucumbers are heavy feeders, and any growing medium lacking organic matter can stress the plant out, making them bitter. Add plenty of compost and organic matter to the soil at the time of planting.
Also, use a balanced and organic liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 of its strength, once in 3-4 weeks.
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Number One Secret to Avoid Bitter Cucumbers
The best way to ensure that your cucumbers taste sweet is to cut both ends and rub the end of the cucumber with them in a circular motion. While doing it, you will notice a white substance forming, which is cucurbitacin, the main bitterness-causing substance.
You can also peel off the skin to reduce the chances of bitterness.
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