The Q&A Archives: Cucurbits vs Juglone

Question: Can vegatables of the Cucurbits family, specifically Cucumbers, be planted within 5-10ft of the drip line of a 15ft tall Black Walnut tree? I couldn't find anything in the FAQ's that addressed juglone toxicity to cucumbers.

Answer: The plants most susceptible to juglone are those in the nightshade family (solanaceae): tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes in particular will either die or be stunted. (Apples, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus and some of the cole crops are also among those reported sensitive.) Cucurbits are not in the lists of particularly sensitive to juglone plants, but I would still be cautious. Perhaps plant a few closely as an experiment, then plant the rest in the safe distance. The "safe distance" from the tree is determined by the size of the tree. You need to locate the vegetable garden outside the tree's root zone. For a mature tree, the safe distance can easily require a 50 or 60 foot radius away from the trunk. In younger trees, the root zone could conceivably reach twice as far as the height of the tree. Remember, to be on the safe side, the toxin also leaches from the leaves and nuts, so you will need to remove these if they fall or blow into your garden.

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