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Volume XXXINumber 1Page 2 This is often the case with cucumbers. Sometimes they can tastedownright bitter. The good news is that this is preventable.Following a few simple tips can make sure you get thegreat-tasting cukes your labors deserve.The bitter taste that sometimes happens comes from one of threethings, or a combination of the three. Here are some tips to helpyou avoid all of them.The first is to harvest cucumbers before they reach fullmaturity. Leaving them on the vine too long, trying to get extralong fruit, can lead to disappointing taste. Cucumbers can growfast once they start producing, so be sure to plant only as muchas you can keep up with, to keep the harvest young.WaterMoisture control is the second tip for growing salad-qualitycucumbers. Irrigation or rain is critical, especially in the lastweek or so before the harvest. Failing to provide enough watercan definitely lead to poor-tasting cucumbers.The best way to water is with a drip system, irrigation tape orsoaker hoses. Provide about 1 inch to 1.5 inches of water perweek. Even more water near harvest time will help. Overheadwatering is OK. But it’s the least efficient method, and it maylead to foliar diseases.Third, manage the soil fertility. This means adjusting the pH(alkalinity or acidity) of the soil correctly and providingproper nutrition.Submitting a soil sample to your University of GeorgiaCooperative Extension county agent’s office is the most preciseway to do this. There’s no way to guess at the pH without thesoil test.The test will also provide details of what and how muchfertilizer to apply. Proper nutritional management will lead tohealthier plants and help eliminate the fertility problems thatcan cause a bitter taste.By following these tips, you should be able to grow all thegreat-tasting cucumbers you need for your salads and pickle jars.(Bob Westerfield is the Cooperative Extension consumerhorticulturist with the University of Georgia College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.) By Robert R. WesterfieldUniversity ofGeorgiaFew things in the garden are more heartbreaking than taking thetime and effort to cultivate the soil, plant seed, fertilize,water and nurture your plants, only to have your harvest tasteawful.