Friday, August 14, 2020

Difference between Armenian-type cucumbers

Other than color, there are a number of similarities and differences between the Light Armenian, the Dark Armenian and the Striped Armenian (or Painted Serpent) cucumber melon.

The similarities between all three of these cucumbers is that they are all melons. As such, they prefer warmer weather and will grow very well in the heat. Each of them grows a long cucumber, though based on breeding one variety may end up longer than the other. Each have very visible fuzz when the cucumbers are small, that becomes less noticeable as the fruit fills out. Each of them grows cucumbers that are bitter-free and don’t cause indigestion – unless there is a genetic fluke that makes the melon plant produce bitter melons.

 As for differences, I’ll start with the light, or regular, Armenian cucumber. The light Armenian cucumber is one of the fastest producing cucumbers. Though it requires warm soil, once established, the plant grows very quickly. The plant produces a lot of fruit quickly, then deteriorates quickly. Unlike other cucumber-melons, regular Armenian cucumbers have minimal resistance to some regular cucumber diseases such as cucumber mosaic virus. This variety is the least disease resistant. As for the fruit of the light Armenian, it usually starts out tender and dry. Over time, the fruit becomes more juicy. However, at the same time as the fruit grows, it becomes harder. Thus, for fresh eating the gardener should pick the fruit when the diameter is no wider than they can fit around from thumb to forefinger or to middle finger. Anything wider is going to end up very crunchy, yet also very hard. Those who like mature Armenian cucumbers don’t care if there are hard seeds or if the flesh (especially the outer flesh) is hard. Trying to find the balance between small and tender and large and juicy can be very difficult as the fruit grows incredibly quickly. Thus, those who want a high-quality cucumber may have to do more checking for fruit than they would for other plants. This cucumber is very similar in many ways to summer squash. Sometimes the cucumber is only in “prime” picking stage for a day or two.

The dark Armenian cucumber is somewhere in the middle. It grows vines and fruit a little slower than the light Armenian, but it also has greater disease resistance. It is usually resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, but if stressed it will quickly succumb to powdery mildew. This variety has fruit that begins tender and dry when young, while becoming more juicy and slightly more stiff as it grows. The window of time that this variety can be picked and still be sliced is longer than the light Armenian. The dark fruit definitely has a wider window picking. Usually its prime picking stage is at least a couple days up to a whole week.

The striped Armenian cucumber is the very slowest of them all. This variety takes a lot longer to germinate, grow and produce. The sprawling vines grow quite a ways out and the plant produces larger leaves than the other two varieties. This variety also has the greatest disease and climate resistance. While powdery mildew resistant cucumbers succumb to the fungus, this cucumber variety will keep growing and producing. The beautiful striped cucumbers that are produced on the plant begin dry and crisp and seem to become more tender, yet remaining crisp and tender as they grow. The plants will often grow to a specified thickness and length, then slowly widen and lengthen. The prime picking stage for this variety is usually around a week – unless the plant has grown very big and there is only one fruit on the vine. Of all the cucumber-melon varieties I have grown, this one is the most resistant to the cold. This variety will often continue to produce fruit right up until the first frost. Its ability to hold onto live is much greater than the other two varieties.

So that is it. Though some others may have had different experiences with their Armenian cucumbers, this has been my experience with these three varieties so far. If you decide to try all three in your garden at one time, you may discover some of the similarities and differences for yourself.

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