Although it tastes like a crisp slicing cucumber, the Armenian cucumber (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus ) is actually a melon. This uncommon fruit is eaten freshly sliced on salads, made into quick refrigerator pickles or used in any recipe that calls for slicing cucumbers. The tender flesh of this seedless fruit, grown as an annual in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 through 11, makes it a favorite of cooks and gardeners.
Prepare the Space
Armenian cucumbers are a warm-season crop that will not grow well when conditions are cool and grow best when the weather has warmed in spring or summer. They require a growing location that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Till the space or dig up the soil with a shovel and remove all grass and weeds. Add 3 to 4 inches of compost to the surface of the loosened soil and work it into the top few inches of soil with a rake.
Once the soil is prepared, install a trellis. Armenian cucumber vines grow up to 9 feet long and require a sturdy trellis to keep fruits off the ground to prevent rotting. While they are officially melons, they do not develop the tough outer skin of most melons, which makes them more susceptible to pests and moisture on the ground. Bamboo teepees, decorative trellises and cattle panel trellises are all sturdy structures on which to grow Armenian cucumbers.
After the last chance of frost has passed, plant Armenian cucumber seeds at the base of the trellis in the prepared soil. Dig a hole 4 inches from the base of the trellis 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch wide. Place two seeds in each hole and cover with soil. Plant additional seeds 8 inches apart -- two per hole -- along the length of the trellis. Leave 1 foot of space at the ends of each trellis to keep plants from spilling over the edge; it is not necessary to leave space if growing cucumbers on a round teepee trellis.
Water well after planting. Because compost has already been added to the soil, it is not necessary to fertilize when planting seeds.
Seeds will germinate in four to 13 days. When seedlings are 4 inches tall, thin to one plant every 8 inches by pinching off the weakest seedling just above the soil line with fingers. Never pull up excess seedlings, as this can damage the roots of the remaining plant.
Fertilize Armenian cucumbers weekly during the growing season and until flowering begins. Once plants start producing small tendrils on the stem, allowing them to climb, fertilize with fish emulsion; add 1 tablespoons of fish emulsion to 1 gallon of water per 25 square feet of soil. Fish emulsion will not burn plants, so it can be poured on the soil at the very base of the plant without causing harm.
Apply 1 to 2 inches of water weekly while the plant is growing, producing blooms and setting fruit. Once the fruits begin growing, reduce the watering to half. Water during the morning hours and keep the water at the base of the plant to reduce the possibility of disease.
From the day of planting, Armenian cucumbers mature in approximately 64 days for the first harvest. When ripe, the cucumbers will loose their dark green color and begin to turn yellowish. While they can be harvested when they are up to 20 inches long, the best flavor and texture comes from fruits that are harvested when 15 to 18 inches long. Holding the vine with one hand, gently pull the cucumber from the vine with the other. Do not pull or tug hard on vines because they will break easily.
Armenian cucumbers can be affected by powdery mildew and downy mildew, so keep good air circulation between multiple plants and water off the foliage. It tolerates extreme hot weather conditions and will continue to produce up to the first autumn frost.