Chicago Pickling Cucumber
58 days. This is a great slicing cucumber! We first grew Chicago Pickling as a part of Slow Food’s Great Lakes Heirloom Seed project in 2011 and we were hooked. Even though it is a "pickling" type cucumber it is crisp, light and refreshing as a slicing cucumber with a sublime sweetness not found in other cucumbers. “Pickling” type cucumbers were popular until the “standard” slicer began to dominate the U.S. market. Pickling types are shorter, wider, bumpier, and have yellow streaks on the skin, but can be used fresh or for pickles … so they are more versatile than the “standard” type. Chicago Pickling was a popular Midwest heirloom since its release in 1888 by D.M. Ferry of Detroit. Plants are vigorous and resistant to scab and cucumber mosaic virus - not resistant to downy mildew (which will affect cucumber yield and quality), so use drip irrigation to avoid getting the foliage wet. CO[[end tab]] [[start tab]]
Growing Instructions (for USDA Zone 5b):
As with all cucurbits, cucumbers do not like their roots disturbed during transplanting so if starting seeds indoors, use biodegradable pots. Seeds can be started inside or outside. Start seeds indoors 5/1 into a good starting mix (we recommend Vermont Compost’s Fort Light). Ideal temperature for germination: 85-95 (use heating mat). Cucumber seedlings are sensitive to damping off fungus so keep soil lightly moist but not too wet and use a fan (set to low) to provide air circulation. Days to germination: 4-10. Once 2 leaves appear, grow plants at 72. Transplant outdoors (plant entire biodegradable pot into soil) around 6/1 into fertile soil with lots of compost or decomposed manure. Or direct sow seeds outdoors 6/1 (1/2” deep). Space plants 1 foot apart. Protect seedlings from cucumber beetles by covering seeds/seedlings with row cover fabric at planting and leave it on until plants are flowering. Protect plants from deer and groundhogs. For an extra boost, foliar feed young cucumber plants (1 week after transplanting) with fish/seaweed. Early Fortune cucumbers perform best in cool (less than 85 degree) weather.
Harvest cucumbers when they begin to attain full size but before they get so big that they start to lose their ridges. Cucs can always be harvested smaller, especially for pickling.
Seed Saving Instructions (for gardeners):
Cucumbers are insect pollinated and cross-pollinated. They will easily cross with any cucumber varieties within ½ mile. You can always save seed and see what you will get! Select only the best plants to save seed from. Allow cucumber fruit to mature fully (they will be large, hard, and yellow). Scoop out seed, rinse, and dry on a screen. Minimum population size: 6-25 plants (but you can save seed from fewer plants if seeds are for your own use).[[end tab]]