Cucumbers sliced into a bowl or added to a salad are crisp and refreshing when picked fresh from the garden on a hot summer day. Plant a few cucumbers especially for pickles, and you can enjoy the tangy flavor of sweet or dill pickles all year round. Cucumbers, a warm weather crop, aren't difficult to grow in the home garden as long as the plants have plenty of space to spread.
Slicing cucumbers, crispy cucumbers that range in size from 6 to 12 inches, taste delicious sliced and eaten by themselves or added to salads or recipes. Time from seed to table varies depending on the variety. Bush Crop cucumbers, which grow on small, bushy plants, require 55 days from seed to harvest. Varieties that require more time to mature include Marketmore, which will be ready in about 68 days.
Pickling cucumbers are smaller than slicing cucumbers, ranging from 3 to 7 inches in length. Pickling cucumbers, which have a mild flavor and a firm, crispy texture, are faster to mature, requiring only 45 to 50 days from seed to maturity. Popular varieties of pickling cucumbers include Carolina, Miss Pickler, Southern Cross and Calypso.
Burpless cucumbers are mild-flavored, easily-digested cucumbers that rarely develop a bitter taste. Burpless cucumbers are tasty sliced and eaten fresh, but can also be pickled. Large cucumbers that range from 10 to 15 inches long, burpless cucumbers include Orient Express and Sweet Slice. Plant burpless cucumber seeds, and you'll have fresh cucumbers in approximately 60 days.
Specialty cucumbers, while not as well known or commonly used as other types, are unusual, delicious cucumbers that are definitely worth adding to your garden repertoire. Specialty cucumbers include brightly-colored lemon cucumbers, which are sweet and tender and will work well for slicing or pickling, or greenish yellow Armenian cucumbers (also called "Snake Melons") that can grow as long as 36 inches.