The Q&A Archives: Bitter Cucumbers

Question: I have never successfully grown cucumbers here in Las Vegas. Between the wind, poor soil, white flies and heat, they have always been stunted and non-productive, and most do not survive. The few cucumbers that grow are very bitter, not edible. And zucchini does not do much better for the same reason. Do you have any advice how I can successfully grow squash and cucumbers here? Matthew Reed Las Vegas, NV

Answer: You may be having a pollination problem. One variety of self-pollinating cucumber to try is Sweet Success (pg 63 of the Burpee catalog). The bitterness problem can be helped by consistent watering and a good organic mulch to keep soil evenly moist. White flies can be controlled by spraying with insecticidal soap. Cucumbers and squash need lots of nutrients, so side dress the vines as they start to run with a 5-10-10 fertilizer.

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