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It is often said that being able to grow a good cucumber is the sign of a real garden. I have to be honest, cucumbers were my nemesis for a number of years until I settled on a reliable variety and honed my technique. I now consider myself a pro when it comes to growing cucumbers. One question those new to growing cucumbers often ask me is ‘Why are my cucumber prickly?’
All cucumbers are prickly to some degree. In some varieties, these prickles are just like hairs and in other varieties, they are more like spines. Cucumbers have evolved prickly skins as a way to protect themselves from being eaten in the wild. The secret to a cucumber with minimal prickles is choosing the right variety.
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Why Are Cucumbers Prickly?
Cucumbers are members of the Cucurbit family along with melons, pumpkins, and other members of the squash family. Many of these plants have developed defenses against being eaten.
It is normal for cucumbers to have prickly skins and how prickly they are will be dependant on the variety grown.
There are essentially two different types of cucumbers we can grow on our homesteads, and they are pickling or slicing cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers tend to be shorter and have thinner skins than slicing varieties.
Can You Eat Prickly Cucumbers?
If the prickles on the cucumbers you have grown are more hair-like, washing the cucumber under running water should be enough to remove the hairs. If the prickles are larger than hairs, just peel the cucumber using either a knife or a vegetable peeler.
Why Don’t Cucumbers At The Store Have Prickles?
It might surprise you to learn that even the cucumbers you buy at the grocery store have prickles, they have just been removed before being sent to the store!
Watch 8 Different Types of Cucumber on YouTube
Which Varieties of Cucumber have the least prickles?
There are a number of varieties of cucumber that have smoother skin than others. Some of the varieties I have grown over the years are listed below.
Burpless is a variety of cucumber that produces long, smooth fruits that can be up to 12″ (30cm) long. The cucumbers tend to be thin and will have smooth, dark green skin with a flesh that rarely tastes bitter.
I have grown Burpless for a number of years, and I have found them to be reliable and tasty. The vines grow tall and will certainly need staking. If you fancy trying to grow Burpless cucumbers, you can check the price of seeds on Amazon.
Diva is another variety of cucumber which has fairly smooth, prickle-free skin. Diva is a hybrid variety of cucumber that won the All-America Selections award back in 2002. This variety of cucumber has fruits that reach up to 8″ (20cm) long. I would describe this cucumber as a thin-skinned glossy cucumber that has a pleasantly mild flavor.
I have grown Diva a number of times over the years and I have always found it to be a really high-yielding variety. To be honest, I ended up growing a lot more cucumber than we as a family could eat.
I recently ordered myself some Diva cucumber seeds from Amazon. You can see which ones I order here.
Marketer is another variety I have had good success with in the past. This variety of cucumber produces long, slender fruits with dark green skin. The cucumbers will be around 8″ or 9″ (20cm or 22cm).
Marketer was developed in the 1940s by crossing ‘Straight Eight’ and ‘Vaughan’. Marketer cucumbers have a mild, sweet flavor and usually develop in less than 60 days.
My Final Thoughts on ‘Why are my cucumbers prickly?’
When it comes to prickly cucumbers, choosing the right variety is the key. Some varieties are smoother than others. However, if the cucumbers you have grown are prickly, there is no need to waste them, just peel your cucumbers prior to eating.