No summer garden should be without cucumbers. They are very easy to grow and are very prolific. Planted in a section of the garden that receives full sun and has an evenly moist, fertile soil, success is almost guaranteed.
- Lifecycle: annual
- Ease-of-care: easy, Cucumbers are not hard to grow if you provide good soil, plenty of moisture and full sun, wait for soil and weather to warm before planting, and use fabric row covers if pests are a problem.
- Height: 1 to 6 feet, Vining varieties can climb up to 6 feet with support, or hug the ground if allowed to sprawl.
- Spread: 1 to 6 feet, Bush varieties take up only 2 or 3 square feet, while unsupported vining varieties can run along the ground for 6 or more feet.
Savour the taste of summer with your own home grown cucumbers. Cucumbers are an essential ingredient for adding to sandwiches, delicious salads, and those long, cool summer drinks on the patio.
Whether you are growing indoor or outdoor types you will need to sow Cucumber seeds in a propagator from early March to April. However, outdoor varieties can also be direct sown outdoors from May to June if necessary.
Sunlight: full sun
Soil conditions: requires well-drained soil, requires high fertility. Well-drained, fertile soil, high in organic matter with near-neutral pH. Consistent, plentiful moisture needed until fruit is ripening. May develop bitter taste in dry sites. Cucumbers are heavy nitrogen feeders and require fertile soil.
Special locations: outdoor containers - Use bush varieties and keep well watered.
Germination temperature: 60 F to 90 F - Do not plant until soil reaches 65 F.
Days to emergence: 3 to 10 - May germinate in 3 days at 80 F to 90 F. Germination may take 10 days or longer at cooler temperatures.
- Select a site with full sun.
- Ideally, soil should be neutral or slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.0. Improve clay soil by adding organic matter. Improve dense, heavy soili by adding peat, compost or rotted manure. (Get a soil test if you are unsure of your soil type; contact your local county cooperative extension.) Light, sandy soils are preferred for northern gardens, as they warm quickly in the spring.
- Mix in compost and/or aged manure before planting to a depth of 2 inches and work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep. Make sure that soil is moist and well-drained, not soggy.
- For an early crop, start cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant them in the ground. They like bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC). If you don’t have a heat mat, put the seeds flat on top of the refrigerator or perch a few on top of the water heater.
- Seed or transplant outside in the ground no earlier than 2 weeks after last frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost damage; the soil must be at least 65ºF for germination. Do not plant outside too soon!
- Sow seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart.
- If you are transplanting seedlings, plant them 12 inches apart.
- A trellis might be a good idea if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space. Trellising also protects the fruit from damage from lying on the moist ground.
- When planting seeds in the ground, cover with netting or a berry basket to keep pests from digging out the seeds.
- When seedlings emerge, begin to water frequently, and increase to a gallon per week after fruit forms.
- When seedlings reach 4 inches tall, thin plants so that they are 1½ feet apart.
- If you've worked in organic matter into the soil before planting, you may only need to side-dress your plants with compost or well-rotted manure. Or, if you wish, use a fertilizer from your garden store which is low nitrogen/high poatassium and phosphorus formula and apply at planting, 1 week after bloom, and every 3 weeks with liquid food, applying directly to the soil around the plants. Or, you can work a granular fertilizer into the soil. Do not overfertilize or the fruits will get stunted.
- Water consistently; put your finger in the soil and when it is dry past the first joint of your finger, it is time to water. Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit. Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, avoding the leaves.
- Mulch to hold in soil moisture.
- If you have limited space or would prefer vertical vines, set up trellises early to avoid damage to seedlings and vines.
- Spray vines with sugar water to attract bees and set more fruit.
- Harvest regular slicing cucumbers when they about 6 to 8 inches long (slicing varieties).
- Harvest dills at 4 to 6 inches long and pickles at 2 inches long for pickles. The large burpless cucumbers can be up to 10 inches long and some types are even larger.
- Cucumbers are best picked before they seeds become hard and are eaten when immature. Do not let them get yellow. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp.
- Any cucumbers left on the vine too long will also get tough skins and lower plant productivity.
- At peak harvesting time, you should be picking cucumbers every couple of days.
- Keep them picked. If you don’t, as plants mature, they will stop producing.
- Cucumbers are over 90 percent water. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to retain moisture.
- They will keep for a week to 10 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.