Cucumber Plant Damage: Tips for Protecting Cucumber Plants in the Garden

Healthy cucumber plants will provide the gardener with a bountiful harvest of this delicious and crunchy fruit, sometimes too abundant. Unfortunately, there are many insect pests that can get to the cucumbers before you do or transmit diseases, making the plants unable to produce. However, insects are not the only ones that cause damage to cucumber plants. Sudden cold snaps can also kill plants, so it is very important to protect cucumber plants. Read on to find out how to protect cucumber plants and how to keep cucumbers safe from predatory insects.

Protect cucumbers from the cold

Cucumbers ( Cucumis sativus ) are tender annuals that grow in warm temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. (18-23 C.). Even prolonged exposure to temperatures below 55 degrees F. (18-23 C.). (13 C.) can cause spoilage, pitting and water-soaked areas on the fruit. Sudden cold snaps can damage or even kill cucumbers on leaves, stems and fruit. Frost damage resembles wrinkled, dark brown to black foliage.

While global warming has increased temperatures around the world, it is also causing unpredictable weather events, such as sudden cold snaps. It is therefore important to have a plan and take steps to protect cucumber plants and other warm-season annuals threatened by sudden frosts to avoid damage to cucumbers.

First, grow cucumbers in the protected areas of the garden. Avoid open, exposed areas or low spots in the garden where cold air accumulates. Grow fruit along fences, rocks or shrubs to protect them from the cold. If a sudden cold snap is expected, cover the cucumbers.

Plants can be covered with anything you have on hand, old leaves, plastic, newspapers or other light materials. Push solid sticks into the ground around the plants to support the cover and load the corners with stones. You can also use wire (extra hooks can be used) to form a curved arch on which to place the blanket. Attach the ends of the cover to the sticks that are driven into the ground. Remember to open the row cover every day to allow condensation to evaporate. Close them again in mid-afternoon to catch the heat at night.

Temperatures inside the single-row deck will be 6 to 20 degrees higher than outside and ground temperatures 4 to 8 degrees higher up to 3 cm deep.

Instead of covering cucumbers with row covers, there are other methods to protect them from the cold. Use a shingle or other wide board attached to the ground on the windward side of each plant to protect them from cold winds. Place a plastic milk container, with the bottom cut out, on each plant; large aluminum cans will also do the trick.

How to protect cucumber plants from pests

There are many insect pests that are more than happy to taste their cucumbers. Some of them even introduce diseases into the cucumber field. Cucumber beetles are guilty of introducing bacterial wilt. They carry the disease in their bodies and overwinter with them by hibernating in the vegetation left in the garden.

To avoid damage to cucumbers from rootworm and the resulting bacterial wilt, a two-part approach is necessary. Be sure to clean up litter, including weeds, in the garden at the end of the growing season to avoid leaving holes for the beetles to hibernate and overwinter. Then, in the spring after planting, cover the cucumbers with a light floating row cover. Remember to remove the cover after the cucumbers begin to flower so that the plants can be pollinated.

Aphids also attack cucumbers, in fact aphids seem to attack everything. They reproduce quickly and their colonies are difficult to control. At the first sign of aphids, treat the plant with insecticidal soap. Other ideas to control aphids include planting them in a bed covered with aluminum foil and filling yellow pots with water that will attract aphids and drown them. Encourage beneficial insects that feed on aphids by planting near the flowers that will attract them. Aphids and grasshoppers also introduce the mosaic virus into the garden.

Grasshoppers suck the juice from the leaves and stems of cucumbers. Again, there is a situation where the use of row covers can alleviate the infestation. In addition, insecticidal soap should be sprayed.

The miner’s larvae dig tunnels in the leaves. Use floating row covers and destroy infected leaves. Cutworms are another danger to cucumbers. They chew on stems, roots and leaves. Cutworms live below the soil surface. So protect plants by placing a 2-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant or use canned food containers with the top and bottom cut off. Also, keep the garden free of weeds and sprinkle wood ash around the base of the plants.

Dust mites also like cucumbers. Spray them with insecticidal soap, water or rotenone. Encourage beneficial predators, such as ladybugs and laceworms. Whiteflies also congregate on the underside of cucumber leaves. Again, beneficial insects should be encouraged. Also remove infested leaves.

Other types of insects like to eat cucumbers. Where you can see them, take them by hand and throw them in a bucket of soapy water. Snails and slugs bite cucumbers, especially young plants. Choose them by hand as above or, if they are too unpleasant, place traps as bait. Pour some beer into a low container and place it around the plants. Slugs will be attracted to the beer and will crawl and drown. Diatomaceous earth sprayed around the plants will also counteract these pests.

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