Cucumbers are famed for the myriad of health benefits they offer; however, if you don’t enjoy the taste, that doesn’t mean you have to forego the wealth of nutritional benefits that this fruit offers. Why? Well, because there is a type of cucumber that has a sweeter, crisper, and more palatable flavor. What is it? An Armenian cucumber, of course!
While it looks similar to better known cucumbers, and they’re in the same genus as cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers are unique in that they belong to a separate species that makes them more closely related to muskmelons. In other words, despite their appearance and genus, they’re actually more similar to melons. The flavor varies, too; rather than the bitter taste that is associated with many real varieties of cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers are sweeter and crispier. They offer many of the same nutritional qualities as their counterparts, too; for example, eating just one of these unique fruits can fulfill your daily hydration needs and can maintain your body temperature, too. As if that wasn’t good enough, Armenian cucumbers are also heat-tolerant, which means that if you reside in a warm climate where traditional cucumbers struggle to grow, you’ll have a much easier time growing Armenian cucumbers.
To learn more about the unique Armenian cucumber plant and how you can grow these crops yourself, keep on reading.
About Armenian Cucumbers
- Armenian cucumbers go by many names: “snake cucumbers”, “yard-long cucumbers”, “rocket cucumbers”, “uri”, “gullah”, and “painted serpant”. The reason for these monikers is due to the appearance, as this fruit resembles a cucumber, but rather than maintaining a straight shape like its counterparts, the Armenian cucumber bends, giving it a snake-like appearance.
- The skin of this cucumber is thin, the flesh is tender, and along the inside is a line of small seeds that can either be consumed or removed; whichever you prefer.
- Like other varieties of cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers are botanically classified as fruits, due to the fact that they meet the qualifications that define a fruit; that is, they produce a flower plant to reproduce, and the seeds are housed within the flower that will eventually turn into a fruit.
- The skin color of the fruit varies, and range from light to dark green, depending on a variety of factors, such as the amount of sunlight exposure.
- They grow as annual vines and have to be trained vertically.
- The stems are angular in appearance and are covered with fine hairs.
- Both male and female Armenian cucumbers produce small, yellow blooms, and the leaves have are profuse and have a grape-like appearance.
- This relative of the muskmelon has a sweet, refreshing flavor and a crisp texture that tastes lovely when eaten on its own, when mixed in with a salad, or even when pickled.
Armenian Cucumber: An Overview
- Scientifically known as Cucumis melo var. flexuosus, the Armenian cucumber measures between 1 foot to 3 feet long, on average, making it much larger than other varieties of cucumbers. Their slender, elongated, and curved in appearance, and typically, they feature an irregular curl.
- The skin color varies, ranging from light to dark green, and depends on several factors, such as the amount of sunlight and moisture it receives while growing.
- These plants were first bred in the 15th century in Armenia, and thanks to immigration, they were transported into other parts of the world, including in the United States and Europe. In the US, this crop usually hails from California, and it can be purchased at specialty grocers and at farmers markets throughout the country, as well as various European countries.
- Armenian cucumbers are highly nutritious. They are an excellent source of several essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.
- To encourage optimal growth and taste, Armenian cucumbers should be grown above ground level; in other words, they should be trained to grow vertically. If the fruits grow on the ground, they can become curled and they will not reach their full length. To train them to grow vertically, use supported trellises. In ideal growing conditions, the vines can extend beyond 20 feet long.
Growing Armenian Cucumbers
Armenian cucumbers are a bit needier than other types of crops. Due to the long vines, and because they should be grown above ground level in order to achieve optimal length and flavor, they do require more care. With that said, however, with the right tips and diligence, you can successfully grow them in your own garden.
It’s best to grow Armenian cucumbers vertically. Not only will doing so allow you to keep the long, winding vines under control, but it will also promote healthier, tastier fruits. Additionally, growing these fruits vertically will save a tremendous amount of space in your garden, and there is less of a risk of pests and diseases, as most pathogens and harmful bacteria that could damage the cucumbers reside in the soil.
To grow Armenian cucumbers vertically, choose a sunny location in your garden. Use a cucumber trellis and supports. As the vines begin to sprout, train them to travel up the trellis. They do best in moist, well-drained soil, and while they don’t necessarily need fertilizers to grow, adding organic fertilizer can promote larger yields of healthier fruits. Organic fertilizers are slow releasing, and as such, the plants will receive a constant supply of essential nutrients, which will promote larger, more robust cucumbers.
Armenian cucumbers can also be grown in containers; however, do note that a large container will be needed; at least 16 inches in diameter is recommended. Make sure that the pot has drainage holes, and use high-quality, well-draining soil. Feed the soil with fertilizer prior to planting the seeds or seedlings to make the soil more fertile. Keep in mind that container soil dries out faster than garden soil so you’ll want to keep a close eye on the soil, and water whenever it appears dry, as Armenian cucumbers do not tolerate dry conditions; they will shrink and the leaves will turn yellow.
Planting Armenian Cucumbers
Armenian cucumbers do best when they are exposed to hot conditions for prolonged periods of time. In order to achieve germination, the temperature has to be greater than 50 degrees F, and once germination does occur, the plant requires a minimum of 55 days of frost-free conditions in order to produce fruit. Directly sowing the seeds is preferable for growing, Choose a location that receives ample sunlight, and the soil should be nutrient-rich. Once planted, apply natural fertilizers about a month after seedlings have emerged.
Once seedlings do emerge, set up a cucumber trellis or stakes, and direct the tendrils on the vines to grow onto the trellis or stakes. As Armenian cucumbers seek light, they will train themselves to grow up the trellis or stakes in a vertical fashion. Use well-rotted compost or manure to side dress the plants.
Watering Armenian Cucumbers
When grown in proper conditions, Armenian cucumbers require minimal care; however, in regard to watering, they do need a consistent supply of moisture. This is particularly true once fruits emerge. Check the soil on a regular basis and water when the very top layer feels dry. Apply water to the roots of the plants, as overhead watering can encourage the growth of a powdery, downy-like mildew. If the roots dry out, the fruit will not flourish, and eventually, the plants will completely perish.
How to Propagate Armenian Cucumbers
Propagating Armenian cucumbers is relatively easy, as they are open-pollinated. As such, at the end of the growing season, remove fully matured fruits from the vines. Remove the seeds buy cutting the fruits into two vertical pieces. Use a spool to scoop out the seeds, place them in a strainer, and use fresh water to remove any pulp and flesh from the seeds. Place the seeds onto a piece of newspaper and allow them to dry out completely. Place the dried seeds in an envelope, and store them in a cool, dry place. Plant them at the start of the next growing season. Use the above-mentioned tips to plant and grow your propagated Armenian cucumbers.
If you are looking to grow a fruit that offers nutritional benefits that are similar to cucumbers, but that have a sweeter flavor and a crispier texture, Armenian cucumbers are a great choice. These fruits are much larger than traditional cucumbers and have a unique curved appearance. They’re also sweeter and crunchier than their traditional counterparts. Armenian cucumbers taste great when eaten alone, as a healthful snack, work well in a salad, and can even be pickled. If you’re interested in attempting to grow this type of fruit on your own, the tips and information discussed above will help to put you on the path to success. Harvest your Armenian cucumbers when the fruits have a yellowish hue on the skin, or when they are about 12 to 18 inches long. Once picked, refrigerate the fruits until you are ready to consume them.