The Q&A Archives: Armenian Cucumber Rot

Question: I like the armenian cucumber; however, this year there are few cukes on the vines. The plant looked great until recently. It developed what looks like black spots similar to rose bushes. The small cucumbers develop what looks like a small insect was eating it.

Unless it rains, I water well three times a week.

Last year the cucumber plants died before they could climb a type of trellis.

Perhaps it's a soil problem. Please advise.

I applied seven dust but the vine seems to be drying up.

Answer: Healthy vines will bear more cucumbers. Low fertility, lack of water, and lack of pollination (eg due to rain or lack of bees) can reduce yields.

Cucumbers are potentially subject to a number of foliage diseases, and fungus can easily occur under certain weather conditions -- including typical humid summer weather in Virginia Beach. There are also a number of insect pests that could make holes in the cucumbers. I would suggest you work with your local county extension to try to determine what is happening and how best to prevent it.

It would be wise to do a very thorough clean up all the damaged cucumber foliage, plants and and fruits to try to limit reinfection and carryover. Remove them during the season and also in the fall at the end of the gardening year.

Also make sure they are planted to maximize air circulation, and avoid wetting the foliage when you water. Next, do not handle the plants when they are wet.

Try watering slowly and deeply so the water soaks down at least six inches. (Wait a few hours after watering and then dig down to see how far it soaks in; this can be surprising.) To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger and if it is still damp, do not water again yet.

Adding organic matter to the soil and using an organic mulch will also help reduce watering needs. You might also want to run some basic soil tests to check fertility and pH levels. This will tell you if you need to fertilize or add lime to adjust the pH. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the testing and interpreting the results.

In the meantime, you may find the following cucumber growing sheet helpful.

I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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