Plant different cucumber varieties for eating and pickling.
When choosing cucumbers, the question is really "to burp, or not to burp?" Cucumbers that make you burp are the ones that make great pickles; the burpiness means they have higher levels of cucurbitacin. Cucumbers that are best eaten fresh are called "burpless", "eating", or "slicers", since so many of us slice them into salads or onto sandwiches.
The refreshing aroma of cucumber says summer, and it's the second most popular vegetable with home gardeners (after King Tomato, of course). In our video Tricia plants and grows cucumbers (and fights pests organically). Tricia likes pickling cucumbers, but most gardeners want eating cukes too.
Grow these cucumbers for fresh-from-the-garden flavorsThe Armenian cucumbers shown above are a prized variety for eating and slicing (without burping). Suyo Long grows up to 16 inches of burpless tenderness. The celebrated Straight Eight is reliable and smooth, with heavy yields. Plus, it's easy to slice. Lemon cucumbers are round and yellow just as their name would suggest. Their delicate skin and light flavor mean lemon cucumbers often get eaten in the garden.
Grow these cucumbers for the perfect crunchy pickle
Okay, we made this one easy for you. If you want great pickles, you get a big hint if the word "pickle" is in the cucumber seed's name! Homemade Pickles grows 5 to 6 inches long. Feeling patriotic? National Pickling came from research sponsored by the National Pickle Packers Association and works both when picked gherkin-small at 2 to 3 inches, or at standard 5 to 6 inches.
Cucumbers that play on both teams
Some burpless cucumbers also make good pickles. They call the variety Muncher because it's good straight from the vine, but it's also a nice pickler if you pick it small (4 to 6 inches). Tendergreen is a burpless and you can grow it to 8 inches as a slicer, but if you want to pickle it just harvest the cukes when they're small.
The prickly hairs on certain cucumbers can certainly make their presence felt, as in you might need to wear garden gloves when you harvest your crop. The flavors of some spiny cucumbers make that little inconvenience worthwhile.
Those little bumps on some cucumber skins (shown above) have a special name. When reading seed pack information about cucumbers, watch for this word, if the bumpiness is a pro or a con for you.
Cucumbers are in the cucurbit family, along with pumpkins, squash, and melons. Why do you need to know that? First, because the name is fun to say. Second, because you can avoid many soil borne diseases if you rotate your crops and don't replant family members in the same place for 3 years. We have an intro to vegetable families and crop rotation here.