One Cucumber to Replace All Others

armenian-cucumber-aka-yard-long-cucumberWhat if I told you that there was a cucumber that you could grow almost anywhere, never gets bitter, is “burpless,” and always tastes delicious? No, really! I’m taking about the Armenian cucumber, Cucumis melo var. flexuosus. You may have seen these advertised in the seed catalogs as the “yard long cucumber.” It is actually a melon that is grown, harvested, and eaten as a cucumber.

In my part of central Texas, growing ordinary cucumbers was always a challenge. The summers come early and hot. Just when I thought that I had a decent crop of cucumbers, I’d find that they were bitter as gall and completely inedible. I tried lots of different types that were advertised as varieties that would not to get bitter, but the results were always disappointing. Then I decided to try the Armenian cucumber. What a difference.

The seeds are planted after the last frost, about an inch deep and six inches apart, in a location that receives full sun. The vines start producing fruit after about fifty days. If you provide a trellis or fence for them to climb on, the cucumbers will be nice and straight. If you let them grow on the ground, they will curl themselves up into circles and spirals. The fruits can grow to be up to three feet long, which is how they got the nickname of “yard long,” but the quality is best if you pick them at twelve inches or less.

The flavor is very mild. The flesh is firm, and a little on the dry side. The seeds are small. The entire fruit is edible; you don’t even need to peel them. These cucumbers are great when sliced fresh or made into cucumber salad. I haven’t tried making pickles from them yet, but I think they would do just fine.

This is the second year that I’ve grown the Armenian cucumbers and I’ll probably never grow any other kind. Give them a try.

Thanks to ThistleDew for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest. We have over $1,500 in prizes lined up for the current writing contest, with more to come. Here is a list of the current pot of prizes:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $380 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $279 value
– 1 year of free membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $240 value
– A copy of The Summer of Survival Complete Collection from Life Changes Be Ready, a $127 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $60 each
– The complete 2014 Grow Your Own Food Summit interview series, a $47 value
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $42 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $40 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $32 each

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  • Tam Kessell says:

    A few years ago we bought this little property (1 1/2 acres) in the Arizona desert, right on the edge of Zones 9/10. There’s a wash running through it and shortly after the rains the second year I noticed these plants sprouting up all along where the wash ran. They had beautiful blossoms and then the fruits started appearing. I didn’t recognize them and searched the web, posted pics asking if anyone knew what they were, but got nothing. Since I didn’t know what they were, I left them alone, and the rabbits enjoyed them. There are still a few out there growing wild and now I know what they are… they look exactly like this! ~Laughing~ I guess I’ll be growing Armenian cucumbers… at least I know they will grow here for sure!

    1. Bob Thomae says:

      Any pictures available? I’m in San Antonio area. Thanks in advance.

      1. Michael Ford says:

        Hi Bob – There should be a picture up at the top of this blog post.

  • d. henry Lee says:

    I grow a Japanese hybrid cucumber that I have grown for years here in W. Tenn. They grow long, about a foot, aren’t spiney and their skin is not bitter. They have small seeds and even if they get a little too big, they are still good. I grow them on trellis’ and it gets hot here. A few plants is all you need. I get the seed from Pinetree Seed Co. I want to try some of the Armenian ones next year.

  • Bentley says:

    This is fantastic! It just so happens that Armenian is one of the varieties I’m trying out for the first time this year. Can’t wait to see how it does.

  • Carolyn White says:

    I too plant the Armenian. Cut worm got the first planting. These are so big, I always have some to share, and folks at church start asking when will there be cukes. Have read these are part of the melon family. Very mild.

  • Karen says:

    My cucumber Pick of a Lifetime is Tendergreen Burpless. After trying everything else, this one is a winner, and I’m going to stick with it. Tender, white flesh, and never gets bitter. However, the Yardlong is great choice also. It’s been around for a while, but I prefer more of a traditional look.

  • Yup, gotta say i ‘discovered’ the Armenian cukes a while ago, and they are the only ones I grow now. Jut two or three plants on a trellis and I had so many cucumbers I gave adn gave and agve them away. I also fermented a bunch too. They stayed ‘crisp’ for a few months in the fridge.

  • I’ve grown these in NW Arizona and they do very well here. They will try to take over a garden though so you’ll have to keep cutting them back. They are actually a melon but taste like a cuke and no matter how big they get (and they can get huge) they never get bitter.

  • Joyce McDonald says:

    Living in Northern Ontario, the problem is enough above freezing weather… we get a frost every month… and cucumbers definitely do not like cool weather but zucchini produce everywhere and when small, up to a foot in length are as good or better than any cucumber that survives with only 60 to maximum 90 days growing season (if you are very lucky). Will make sliced pickles, nine day etc. and excel in relishes. Amazing how few people know they are delicious raw in any form that you can use a cucumber. So for one extreme of weather to the other… try the lowly zucchini.

    1. irene says:

      I also use zucchini the same way you described! I also fry them, which I have never done with a cucumber!

  • irene says:

    I grow lemon cucumbers and have not had them go bitter, even when very large. I also make pickles from them when they are about medium in size. They also fool a lot of people who think they are real lemons!

  • JJM says:

    Sounds great. My cukes failed the 1st 2 plantings and the current planting are only 2 feet tall – afraid it is now too hot in SE TX to get anything edible from them. Will need to try these next year.
    Wish someone would comment how well they pickle.

  • Neato! I am shopping for seeds to try this next year. How interesting! I am growing cucumbers in a patio pot this year and they are just teeming with cucumbers already. I can hardly wait to grow these interesting long skinny ‘melons’! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Jackie Seward says:

    I’ve grown Armenian cukes for five years where I live south of FW. I haven’t tried pickles but they make great sweet relish. Love the flavor and they’re Texas hardy.

  • Daryle in VT says:

    The cucumber family that grows anywhere, including indoors, is the Beit (bate) Alpha. One member in particular is the Socrates F1, available from several seed providers. It is parthenocarpic, non-bitter and virtually seedless. “Non-bitter” is synonymous with “burpless.” The compound that makes most cucumbers have a bitter skin is what causes the tendency for the consumer to burp. That compound also attracts cucumber beetles, which like bitter skin. Socrates F1 cukes grow to 8 inches and are usually eaten without peeling. They make great mustard pickles.

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