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    Collection of Cukes

    By Samantha Johnson

    Illustration by Tom Milner

    Cucumbers are easy to grow and produce abundantly, but you might be surprised to know that they come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes.Seed catalogs are filled with cucumbers of all types. They fall into three categories:

    • Open-pollinated. This means that pollination occurs naturally — by insect, wind, birds — and the seed produced remains true-to-type, meaning that the seed will produce identically to the plant from which they came.
    • Hybrid. This is the result of a crossing by humans of two distinct varieties. Hybrid seeds will not remain true-to-type, which means gardeners must purchase new seeds every year.
    • Heirloom. These are open-pollinated plants that date back at least 50 years.

     Lemon (Heirloom)

    The exquisite flavor of the Lemon cucumber is an undoubtedly appealing trait, but when coupled with its eye-catching lemon shape and its sunshiny color, it’s easy to see why Lemon makes such an excellent market variety and why it’s enjoyed by so many gardeners. Perfect for gardeners in cool climates, the Lemon cucumber is a delight for fresh eating. The flavor is mild, the texture is crispy, and it’s an absolute star in any summer salad.

    Pick-A-Bushel (Hybrid)

    There’s a reason that Pick-a-Bushel was an All-America Selection Regional winner in 2014. Actually, make that several reasons. This variety wrote the proverbial book on being a productive plant, it’s remarkably disease resistant, and it’s a smart choice for cold-climate gardeners with a short growing season.

    And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s a perfect choice for container growing, which means that you can grow these productive beauties anywhere. What more could you want from a cucumber? Oh, and Pick-a-Bushel is delicious, too. 

    Sweet Burpless (Hybrid)

    When you envision the stereotypical cucumber, this variety is probably close to the image that springs to mind. That’s because Sweet Burpless is an 8-inch, smooth-skinned green cucumber that’s perfect for slicing and often praised for its impressive productivity.

    As its name indicates, Sweet Burpless boasts a pleasingly sweet flavor accentuated by the fact that the variety is burpless. Best of all, Sweet Burpless is resistant to disease, which always is an added benefit.

    Platinum (Open-Pollinated) 

    Boothby’s Blonde, for all of its appealing size, creamy white coloring, and tasty flavor, is known for its susceptibility to powdery mildew. Here’s the good news: Researchers at Cornell University decided to use Boothby’s Blonde as the basis for the development of a new variety of open-pollinated cucumber — now marketed as Platinum — specifically bred for resistance to powdery mildew.

    The new variety exhibits the same delightful coloring for which Boothby’s Blonde is known, while also boasting increased size. It’s a beautiful variety with a lot of potential. Platinum is best for fresh eating and it is an ample producer of beautiful specimens.  

    Boston Pickling (Heirloom) 

    If you’re looking for an heirloom cucumber with plenty of historic charm, look no further than the Boston Pickling variety. With more than 130 years of continued success that has pleased generations of happy gardeners, this variety has more than earned its rightful place in the garden.

    Boston Pickling is a premier pickling variety that is best when fruit is harvested between 3 to 7 inches long — and usually 4 to 5 inches. Boston Pickling is said to be resistant to scab and cucumber mosaic virus and is a prolific producer that puts out abundant crops of green fruit.