Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Easy to Grow from Seed Favorites: Miniature White Cucumbers

I love these crunchy little things.

Realization of the Day:
I can't let another year go by without telling you about my new favorite cucumbers—and for once I'm actually telling you about something in plenty of time to plant!

If I had to choose between growing lemon cucumbers (which I wrote about here) and these mini white cucumbers, it wouldn't be an easy decision.

What are the advantages to growing this open pollinated variety (which is really more very pale green than white)? First of all, just like with cherry tomatoes, smaller cucumbers mature more quickly than their larger counterparts—49 days versus an average of 55 to 72 days. They can be picked and eaten when they're even smaller than the ones in this photo (and I don't have very big hands).

This can be helpful if you have a short growing season, are usually plagued by cucumber loving insects and/or disease (the less time they're growing means the less time there is to attack), if you want to squeeze in two crops during one growing season, or if, like me, you always seem to be planting everything late and are racing your first frost date.

Other advantages? I've found them to be very easy to grow when direct seeded in the garden once the soil has completely warmed up (cucumber plants are not cold tolerant). In fact, these cucumbers are so easy to grow, last summer I harvested quite a few from healthy volunteer plants that sprouted up in our kitchen grey water runoff ditch—from seeds that had gone down the drain and weren't even fully mature.

For the 'real' plantings in the garden, I put four or five seeds about an inch deep in little hills a few feet apart and simply let the plants sprawl. Since this is a long vined variety, you could save space by planting your hills next to a trellis or fence and the vines should climb right up it.

I used to start all my cucumber seeds in containers in early spring, keep them indoors, and then transplant the little seedlings into the garden once the weather warmed up. But delicate cucumber plants can be temperamental, and I've found that the direct seeded plants grew so much faster out in the garden that I didn't end up gaining anything except extra work by starting them indoors.

All ease of cultivating aside, what's really important when growing anything of course is flavor, and miniature white cucumbers have a very nice one. They're mild and sweet, with a pleasant thin skin that never needs peeling. I bought some larger green cucumbers from our Amish neighbors last summer to supplement my garden bounty, and I remember being surprised at how thick and slightly bitter the skins seemed compared to these minis.

And, last but not least, they're adorable.

I ordered my miniature white cucumber seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine, and their catalog says this small white, black spined pickling cucumber is a very heavy yielder (which always wins points with me) and is never bitter.

I've also grown Boothby's Blonde cucumbers, a long vined Maine heirloom which Pinetree describes as 'a crisp, medium sized slicer, 6—8" long, with a very pleasant flavor and texture,' and while I liked them, I like these minis better. I often found myself simply slicing them up and munching on them plain as a snack, or on a plate with cheese and crackers.

One of my kitchen garden goals this year is to keep a jar or two of refrigerator pickles (you can pickle almost anything!) on hand during the summer, and I think these little cucumbers would make nice ones.

At $1.35 for a packet of 10 seeds, the were a little more expensive than the other varieties Pinetree sells, but still a great deal. And once you've grown them in your garden, you can simply save some seeds from your best specimens to plant the following year.

If you don't have a magical kitchen grey water runoff, be sure to let the cucumbers fully mature on the vine before you harvest the seeds you want to save, which for this variety means the cucs will get much bigger and much darker in color. I know I have some pictures of what they should look like, but unfortunately I have no idea where they are. If I come across them, I'll post them.

In the meantime, what are your favorite kinds of cucumbers to grow?

More posts about some of my favorite things to grow:
Favorite Heirloom Tomatoes to Grow—Mine and Yours
Growing Onions in the Garden
Growing Onions from Purchased Plants—Ordering and Planning
Growing Short Day Onion Varieties from Purchased Plants
Harvesting Spring Onions Grown from Purchased Plants
Endive and Escarole in the Kitchen and Garden
Growing Lemon Cucumbers from Seed

How to Grow Beets from Seed (and here's my favorite beet recipe)
How To Grow Swiss Chard from Seed and Why You Should (and recipes)
How To Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed (It's easy!)
How To Grow Arugula from Seed in Less than a Month
How To Grow Nero di Toscana Cabbage (also called Tuscan Kale, Cavalo Nero, Lacinato Kale, Dinosaur Kale) from Seed and What to Do with It
How To Grow Asian Greens for Fall by Direct Seeding
My Favorite Heirloom Carrots (so far) to Grow from Seed: Parisienne
Tips for Growing & Using Rosemary Year Round

©, the snow is finally gone (for the time being) foodie farm blog where now I'm suffering some serious cucumber withdrawals. I knew I should have put up a few jars of pickles last year.


  1. My very favorite is Richmond Green Apple from Baker Creek. Lovely, crisp, bright, beautiful light-green, serving size cucumbers. My kids love them and DH uses them to replace the lettuce in his BLT's; he'll even forgo the bacon and just eat these and tomatoes sandwiched.

  2. I love your blog! I've spent many hours reading prior posts.

    I'm headed into my second year of vegetable gardening. This year I've decided to start plants form seeds. I've been pouring over books and sites trying to figure out just when I need to start plants and which ones in Missouri. I have heirloom seeds from Seed Savers, Baker Creek and A Few Good Plants this year. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, beans, peas, beets, eggplant, carrots, onions and lots of greens.

    How about a handy dandy summation of what seeds and when from your own garden?

    Right now I'm limited to a small condo patio, so containers are the main focus. I do have a small ground section to plant. Last year it supported four tomato plants just fine.

    I'm waiting for my husband to finish his degree so we can move to a home with land and space for some chickens. Until then I'll keep my concrete garden.

    Thanks for your blog - it is getting me through the waiting until spring.

  3. Susan, I grow Boothby's Blond and love it! Crisp and delicious. But, you say White Mini is better. I think I might have to try it! I like Pine Tree Seeds, too. I don't want many seeds when I am trying out a variety and their prices are lower because of less seeds.
    One cuc test for me is whether or not they make good pickles. Boothby's Blond does make a good pickle,just not as green as the usual pickle. I have started some tomato seeds (yesterday)and feel the 2010 gardening season has officially started. Keep up your good blog...I love garden talk.

  4. Thanks for sharing this variety! I have not had much luck with cucumbers but I did end up with two lemon cucumbers once, and enjoyed them. We are moving our garden this year so hopefully we'll have better luck.

  5. Well, I do love lemon cukes (they make the best pickle chips), these are so tempting to try. Even though I've already ordered my cucumber seeds for this season - Mexican Sour Gherkins (they look like mini watermelons) and a pickling variety I can't recall.

    Though I feel like I could squeeze these in next to the bean teepee and let them go at it.

  6. I got hooked on the White Pearl cukes that Park sent as a sample variety in 2008. I still have some left, and I also ordered some White Wonder cukes for this year.

  7. Where did you get these seeds?
    I'd like to plant one of these to go with my lemon cukes, but would really only need 2-3 seeds (wanna send me some???) My space is limited, but i'd love to add one new plant to the garden.

  8. I love Mexican Sour Gherkins. In addition to those, I am back to the basics this year- Marketmore 76 and Boston Pickler.

  9. My cucumbers usually grow faster if I plant them directly in the garden.
    I haven't tried planting miniature white cucumbers so far, but I'll try them this year - since you told us about them in plenty of time to plant! :)

  10. I am planning to grow some Boothby's Blonde this year. They're one of the first packets I seeds I bought for this season! Now I'm thinking I need to check out these adorable white minis, too. You make them sound so perfect!

  11. I just ordered these seeds. Can't wait to eat those cuties!

  12. I tried growing some of those before but failed. I guess I started too early. But come spring, I will try again. Looks like peeled cucumbers. Can't wait to grow them


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!