How To Grow Cucumbers

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Big Burpless CucumberCucumbers are a superb vegetable for many things including salads, pickles, and making dressings or soups. You can also eat cucumbers straight from the vine – just rinse off, cut the ends, and enjoy!

There are many cultivars of cucumbers available. Cucumbers come in different types such as: pickling, slicing, seedless, and burpless – just to name a few.

For pickling purposes, you can try ‘Little Leaf’ or ‘Northern Pickling’.

If you desire the long, slicing variety, there is ‘Burpee Hybrid II‘ or ‘Marketmore’.

If space is a rare commodity for you, try the compact versions, ‘Bush Champion‘ or ‘Spacemaster’.

Try the ‘Big Burpless Hybrid‘ for a burpless slicing cucumber that reaches 12-14″ in length.

Seedless cucumbers are sometimes referred to as English Cucumbers. They do not develop large seeds from not being pollinated. They do still have seeds, but are very small and hard to see.

There are many cultivars of each type to choose from. Typically in my garden, I grow the ‘Marketmore’ or ‘Marketmore 76′, ‘Straight 8′ and ‘Straight 9′ varieties. As you can see, I mainly grow the slicing types of cucumbers.

How to Plant & Care for Cucumbers

Choose a warm, sunny location with humus-enriched soil that drains well. Direct-sow the seed when the soil has reached at least 60° F, planting 1½” deep and 2’ apart in rows 2-3’ apart (those using a trellis can be as close as 10” apart).

In short-season areas, you can start seeds indoors 4 weeks before the last frost date and transplant after the last frost date.Planting Cucumber Seeds

I have transplanted nursery bought cucumber plants before with some success, but generally, it is better to sow the seed directly in the garden.

Also, I use a homemade trellis for my cucumbers. I have found that letting cucumber vines run on the ground results in various problems.

One problem is the plants can become more susceptible to possible disease, such as powdery mildew. Another problem is that if the fruit sits on the moist ground, they can begin to rot. You could go out to your garden, and see a beautiful 7-12″ cucumber laying there, just to pick it up and realize the bottom is rotten. Trust me, you will want to almost cry if you experience this!

If you are interested in growing cucumbers in your garden, a trellis or some type of support system is the way to go to ensure a healthy crop. I have much better results when I use a trellis for my cucumbers. For more information on building a simple, inexpensive trellis for your cucumbers, please visit How To Build A Simple Cucumber Trellis.

Cucumbers require a good amount of water. Plants should receive about ½” of water per week or more during periods of high heat. Spreading organic mulch around plants when they are young is a good idea to help keep the soil moist.

Cucumbers need bees, and other pollinators for pollination and fruit development. If you find that your cucumbers are lacking proper pollination – then you may need to hand pollinate.

How to Harvest Cucumbers

Cucumbers grow fairly rapidly and are ready to pick 50-75 days after planting. Harvest when they are 8-12” long for the slicing varieties and as small as 2” for the pickling types.

Growing CucumbersIf you let a cucumber sit on the vine too long, the seeds can become harder and the fruit becomes bitter. Picking frequently also encourages more production. I generally harvest my cucumbers when they reach around 7-12″ long.

Harvesting your cucumbers according to size also depends on the cultivar you are growing. Some cultivars are ready to pick at much larger sizes than others. The appropriate harvesting size should be on the seed packet of the seeds you are using. Use that information as a guideline for harvesting your cucumbers. Harvesting your cucumbers early and often can help to stimulate more production.

Be sure to snip the cucumbers from the vine with snips or scissors. If you just yank or pull the cucumber from the vine you could damage the plant, or tear it from the trellis, if you are using one.

For more information on how to harvest cucumbers, please visit How and When To Pick Cucumbers.

Pests & Diseases of Cucumbers

Cucumbers are susceptible to a wide variety of problems, but new hybrid varieties have been developed for disease resistance. Choose cultivars that have been specifically bred for your climate. Choose varieties that are resistant to fusarium wilt, anthracnose, black rot, gummy stem blight and powdery mildew.

Powdery Mildew on Cucumber Leaves

You can apply fungicides if you want, but I do not recommend this if you want an organic garden. If I run into these problems, most of the time I remove the plant from the garden and start over if it is still fairly early in the season. Sure, it is more work, but it usually works out well and in the end is worth the extra hassle.

The striped and spotted cucumber beetles are the most significant pests with cucumbers. They can spread bacterial wilt in the plant. Aphids carry cucumber mosaic virus – you can knock them off with the water hose. You can also introduce ladybugs to the garden, as they love munching on aphids if you have a big aphid problem.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Avoid using any pesticides to prevent killing beneficial pollinators. Remember, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are needed for the garden to produce. What you use to kill one bad insect will most likely kill the good ones, too.

There is more about pests and diseases on the Pest and Diseases pages if you are interested in more information about these problems and possible ways of preventing and solving them.

With some planning and good ole’ fashioned work, growing cucumbers in the garden can be fun, rewarding and not to mention – delicious!

Grow These Delicious Cucumbers In Your Vegetable Garden!

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Comments

  1. Hello,
    I am new to gardening and I am just starting my first garden this year. I live in Stockton, CA where we have no frost. I plan on planting cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, jalpenos and honey dew melon. I started the seeds indoors three weeks ago with an organic starter mix. I am not sure when to move them to the garden. I was also curious if it would work to plant the cucumbers along the edge of my raised bed so they could use the garden fence as a trelis? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Molli,

      You can move the cucumbers and melons into the garden after they have grown their first true leaves (the leaves that look like normal leaves). Once it grows two or more of those you can transplant them. Be careful not to disturb the roots as much as possible when planting. Letting the cucumbers grow up the garden fence is an excellent idea! It should be at least 4 feet tall, but a little shorter is OK. The cucumber vines will just grow up over to the other side of the fence which should be fine.

      The tomatoes can be planted once the plant gets between 6 to 12 inches tall and planted them deep if possible. The peppers can be planted once the get about 6 inches tall or so, and have their true leaves.

      Good luck with your garden and thanks for stopping by! If you have any other questions you can always contact me.

  2. Hi Tee

    My cucumber plants are still really small but they are already starting to flower. I am worried that its too early and that the plant should still be focused on getting bigger and stronger before expending energy on producing fruit. Should I pick the flowers to refocus its energy on growing or let the flowers bloom?

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