Cucumbers are one of the easiest home garden vegetables you can grow. They grow fast with very little care. Here are some simple instructions on how to grow cucumbers to get you started.
Cucumbers can be grown for slicing or for pickling. They will either be bush cucumbers or vine cucumbers. Vine varieties tend to yield more fruit throughout the season but need a trellis for support. Bush varieties are great for containers and small gardens.
WHEN TO GROW
Cucumbers need warm temperatures to thrive. The lightest frost will kill them. For best results, sow seeds indoors and transplant seedlings outdoors only once soil temperatures have reached at least 70° F.
WHERE TO GROW
Cucumbers need to be planted in an area that gets full sun exposure, at least 8 hours per day. They do well in hills, rows, raised beds and containers, just be sure they have ample space to grow. Whether a bush or vine, cucumbers need 2 feet or more space between each plant.
Cucumbers can thrive in just about any soil type. However, they do best in rich, well-drained soil with a pH around 6.5. Fortify your garden bed with compost and till well, removing any rocks or obstructions before planting.
Cucumber seeds can be directly sown into outdoor gardens as long as the local temperatures allow (70° F). For cooler climates, sow seeds indoors and transplant once the danger of frost has passed.
Transplant your cucumber seedlings outside no sooner than 2 weeks after the last frost date or when temperatures have consistently reached 70° F. Give them plenty of room to grow; plant them 2 to 3 feet apart.
Cucumbers need regular, consistent watering to thrive, at least 1 inch per week. Never let the soil dry out. No need to let the soil get muddy but keep it moist throughout the growing season.
Feed cucumber plants a week or so after they produce their first blossoms. Continue to fertilize every 3 or 4 weeks with a liquid compost tea or fish emulsion, but try not to over feed them.
Both bush and vine cucumbers can be grown in containers. Bush varieties are best but vine cucumbers can do well but may need a trellis for support. Be sure the container is large enough to accommodate their growth. A 5-gallon pot is usually sufficient for most types of cucumbers.
Vine cucumbers may need a stake, cage or trellis for support as they grow. It’s a good idea to put your support structure in place before you transplant to avoid damaging the roots later on.
Most varieties of cucumbers are ready to harvest 55 to 70 days after planting. Harvest early and often. Cucumbers begin to taste bitter as they grow bigger. Clip them off at the vine just above the vegetable. Sometimes they will easily pop off but don’t force them.
TIPS & ADVICE
Weeding and mulching are great for most garden vegetables and cucumbers are no exception. Weed carefully around each plant. Use organic mulch like straw or dried leaves and grass. This will help maintain soil moisture and warmth, limit root competition and keep the soil rich with nutrients.
You can increase your soil temperature by 3 to 4 degrees by covering it in black plastic.
Cucumbers grow well next to radishes, marigolds, sunflowers peas, beets and carrots.
Have your own tips on how to grow cucumbers? Let us know in the comments section below.