Sunday, August 26, 2012

Curling Cucumbers: the unplanned Shirly Temple Variety

I've begun to nickname my cucumbers "Curly-Q's" because as the summer goes on, they're becoming more and more curled up.  Sometimes just the end stays curled, and sometimes the whole cucumber is curled around itself like a frightened caterpillar!  Being that this is my first year growing cucumbers vertically along a trellis, I naturally thought that might be the problem.  However, after some research, the problem seems to be the bees.....or lack of them!  Curling cucumbers are caused by incomplete or uneven pollination.  This is important to the shape of the cucumber.  If all the seeds are not pollinated then the cucumber will continue to grow, but be misshapen. 

This makes sense to me.  In the beginning of the growing season, I would see bees all over my cucumber flowers.  Then as the zucchini grew on the other side of the yard, apparently their much larger orange flowers were more appealing to the bees.  In the morning, the zucchini flowers are over-crowded with bees and other insects while the cucumber plant looks like a castoff.  If this was a popularity contest in the vegetable world, my zuchini's were definitely winning! 

If your cucumbers are curling because of an obstacle in the garden, that's an easy fix.  Just clear a path for the cucumber.  If it is a lack of bees, then plan next year to add some flowers nearer, or in, the garden.


  1. Just read this out loud to my husband. We both learned something tonight--thanks!