If you’re looking for a great slicing cucumber to add a special flavor to salads, or for dipping, the Diva cucumber is a solid bet. Tender and crisp with few seeds, it’s no surprise this cucumber has been around for more than a century.
In 2002, the Diva won the vegetable category of All-America Selections (AAS), a nonprofit organization that recognizes the superior performance of both vegetables and flowers.
Read on to learn more about this cucumber, from how to use it in your diet to how to grow it in your backyard.
Characteristics of the Diva Cucumber
The Diva is among the slicing cucumbers described as having a sweet taste. A bit of a misnomer, “sweet” doesn’t mean the Diva and other cucumbers are sugary, but denotes they don’t have the bitter taste associated with other cucumber varieties.
In addition to its sweetness, the Diva cucumber has a thin skin and few seeds, attributes for easy use in the home kitchen. The Diva can grow to be fairly long but is at its best for taste and texture when harvested at about six to eight inches.
How to Use the Diva Cucumber
In looking for recipes to try with the Diva, one good place to try is Thrifty DIY Diva, which offers nearly a dozen recipes for crunchy cucumbers which would be perfect for your Diva cucumbers.
Among the recipes at Thrifty DIY Diva are Mexican cucumbers, or a cucumber, lime, and chile treat.
There are also dilly bites, in which dill-infused cream cheese, topped with a slice of cherry tomato, is placed atop a cucumber slice, and smoked salmon cucumber rolls, which combine salmon with lengthwise slices of cucumber.
Getting Kids to Eat the Diva Cucumber
As a slicing non-bitter cucumber with a thin skin and few seeds, the Diva is well-situated as a way to introduce youngsters to cucumbers.
But first, a word of caution about introducing children to cucumbers. While babies can begin to eat solid food at around 6 months, health experts say children shouldn’t eat cucumbers until at least 9 months old, and then only in mashed or pureed form.
According to experts, the earliest that children should be allowed to eat raw cucumber is 1 year old, and while the Diva is a good choice for young palates, it may be advisable even at that age to puree the Diva with pears or apples.
Health Benefits of the Diva Cucumber
For children, the Diva cucumber, like other varieties, is a healthful addition to the diet, although it should be understood that when consumed in mashed or pureed form, those benefits will be somewhat limited. Nonetheless, eating Diva cucumbers is a great way for children to stay hydrated.
For both adults and children, the Diva — again, like other cucumber varieties — is a great source of Vitamins C and K as well as potassium, manganese, and silica.
For adults, the Diva, like other cucumbers, is a low-calorie dietary option, but it comes with the added benefit of containing fiber and fluid, both of which create a feeling of being full, thus limiting other food intakes.
As just one example of the benefits of inserting cucumbers into the diet, dipping cucumber slices into hummus represents 100 fewer calories than scooping up that hummus with 10 pita chips.
Growing the Diva Cucumber at Home
The Diva cucumber is among the easiest things to grow in a home garden, making it ideal for people who are just getting started with growing their own backyard vegetables. And because they reach maturity in just 58 days, Divas provide home gardeners with a quick reward for their work.
Wait until two to three weeks after the last frost in your area to plant your cucumber seeds, when the soil temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees. Place seeds 1.5 inches into the soil atop small mounds of dirt, placed 18 inches apart, with three or four seeds per hill.
After seedlings appear, thin the hills to one or two plants and apply mulch or straw around the base of the plants. Keep the soil moist, providing a half-inch of water weekly, and expect to see cucumber vines stretching for six feet.
You should be able to begin harvesting your cucumbers within 60 days. If you’d like to stretch out your supply of cucumbers, plant new seeds every two weeks during the growing season.
Pests and Diseases
In addition to its attributes as a slicing cucumber, the Diva cucumber is worth a try in the home garden because of its resistance to common cucumber diseases such as downy mildew and powdery mildew.
If, however, your Diva cucumbers are subjected to downy mildew, which begins as small green or yellow spots, spraying vinegar or a commercial fungicide on the leaves can help. Powdery mildew, which appears as a white powder, can be controlled by spraying a solution of baking soda and water onto the plants.
In terms of pests, Diva cucumbers are susceptible to aphids, pinhead-sized insects that can be controlled simply by spraying water at locations where they are spotted on the plant to knock them off.
Divas are also vulnerable to cucumber beetles, small yellow insects with either black spots or black stripes. Cucumber beetles can be controlled with sticky traps, but you should be aware that those traps also will ensnare beneficial insects.
Harvesting Your Diva Cucumbers
To ensure that you’ll get the maximum yield from your cucumber plants, keep a close watch while they’re growing and remove any that appear to be stunted or rotten on the ends.
When you do take cucumbers off the vine, use garden shears or pruners to prevent damage that might be done to the vines by twisting or pulling the cucumbers off of them. Cut the cucumber stem about a quarter-inch above the cucumber itself to remove it from the vine.
Where to Buy Diva Cucumbers
If you’d like to try growing your own Diva cucumbers, seeds are available online from True Leaf Market.
Otherwise, Divas may be available at your local grocery store, although you may have to ask produce department workers if they have the Diva variety.
A better way to be certain you’re buying Diva cucumbers is to head to your local farmers’ market between May and August, the peak season for cucumbers, where growers will be able to tell you what cucumber variety you’re buying.
Wrapping up the Diva Cucumber
Whether you plan to grow it in your home garden or simply use it in home meal preparation, we hope this post has provided you with useful information on the Diva cucumber.
For more on cucumbers, check out our Cucumbers Page for everything you need!