Descended from a vegetable that grows wild in the dry climate of the Middle East, the beit alpha was developed by breeders on an Israeli kibbutz. These small sweet-fleshed cucumbers were originally popular in the Mediterranean, spread to Europe and thence to the States. They don’t dehydrate easily, their thin skins don’t require peeling, they are almost completely burpless and have a long shelf life.
Culture: May be started indoors for early production, or direct-seeded when soil has warmed. Minimum germination soil temperature 60°, optimal ranger 65–95°. Very tender, will not survive frost. Direct seed 3" apart thinning to 1' apart in rows 4–6' apart or 6 per mound in hills 4' apart thinning to 3 best plants. For transplants: once seedlings have 1–2 true leaves, about 3 weeks old, plant 1' apart in rows 4–6' apart. Cucumbers require good fertility and regular rain or irrigation for abundant yields. Without adequate water, fruits will be misshapen and bitter. Pick cukes frequently for best production, or else the plants shut down. Make sure to remove blimps to the compost pile.
Combat striped cucumber beetles by handpicking early AM when the dew makes them sluggish, or use floating row covers, removing when cukes flower. Cucumber beetles are the vector for BW.
Using compost in conjunction with row covers (rather than either alone) increased cucumber yields at the University of Michigan.
Parthenocarpic varieties can set fruit without being pollinated, an advantage in cold cloudy summers. Gynoecious varieties produce almost exclusively female flowers for uniformity and high yields.
Saving Seed: Saving cucumber seed is easy! Take that big yellow cuke that got away and save it for seed. Scoop out the guts of overripe fruit and ferment it in an uncovered container for a few days. A moldy gross cap to the slurry means the seeds are ready to rinse and dry. To ensure true-to-type seed, grow only one open-pollinated variety per season.
- ALS: Alternaria Leaf Spot
- ANTH: Anthracnose
- BW: Bacterial Wilt
- CMV: Cucumber Mosaic Virus
- CVYV: Cucumber Vein Yellow Virus
- DM: Downy Mildew
- PM: Powdery Mildew
- PRSV: Papaya Ring Spot Virus
- R: Rust
- WMV: Watermelon Mosaic Virus
- ZYMV: Zucchini Yellows Mosaic Virus
Pest: Striped Cucumber Beetle
Cultural controls: use tolerant or resistant varieties, rotate crops, till under crop debris soon after harvest, use floating row covers until flowers appear, use plastic mulch, perimeter trap cropping (Black Zucchini and Blue Hubbard make particularly good trap crops), use yellow sticky strips, hand-pick early morning when beetles are very sluggish.
Materials: Surround, Pyrethrum (PyGanic).
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.