An easy-care vegetable that loves sun and water, cucumbers grow quickly as long as they receive consistent watering and warmth. Don’t let cucumbers get too large before you pick or they will taste bitter! This article of ours can help with your cucumber growing!
Delicious fresh cucumber
Select a site that gets full sun (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day).
Cucumbers require fertile soil. Prior to planting, add about 2 inches of aged manure and/or compost to the bed and work it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Soil should be moist but well-draining (not soggy) and have a pH of around 6.5 to 7.0.
When to Plant Cucumbers
- Sow cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you plan to transplant them outside into the ground. Provide bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC) with a heating pad or place the seed flats on top of a refrigerator or water heater.
- Outdoors, cucumbers should be sown or transplanted into the ground no earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost and cold damage; the soil should be at least 70ºF (21ºC) for germination. Seedlings set best at that temperature, too. In warm soil, cucumbers will grow quickly and ripen in about 6 weeks.
How to Plant Cucumbers
- Sow seeds 1 inch deep and about 3 to 5 feet apart in a row, depending on variety (see seed packet for details). For vines trained on a trellis, space seeds or plants 1 foot apart.
- Cucumbers be planted are spaced 1 to 2 feet apart, with 2 to 3 seeds planted in each mound. Once plants reach 4 inches in height, thin them to one plant per mound.
- A trellis is 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.
- Cover freshly planted cucumber seeds with row covers, netting, or a berry basket if you have pests; this will keep them from digging out the seeds.
When seedlings emerge, begin to water frequently.
The main care requirement for cucumbers is consistent watering! They need at least one inch of water per week (or more, if temperatures are particularly high). Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit.
Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, and avoid getting the leaves wet, as that may encourage leaf diseases that can ruin the plant. If possible, water your cucumbers with a soaker hose or drip irrigation to keep the foliage dry.
Protect the tree
Mulch around plants to retain soil moisture. Cover young plants with row covers or berry baskets if pests appear. When seedlings reach 4 inches tall, thin plants so that they are about 18 inches apart.
If you’ve worked organic matter into the soil before planting, you may only need to side-dress your plants with compost or well-rotted manure sparingly.
Otherwise, fertilize the plants with a liquid 5-10-10 fertilizer. Apply 1 week after the plant starts blooming and every 3 weeks thereafter, directly to the soil around the plants. Or, you can work a granular fertilizer into the soil. Do not over-fertilize or the fruits will get stunted.
If you have limited space or would prefer vertical vines, set up trellises early to avoid damage to seedlings and vines.
- At peak harvesting time, you should be picking cucumbers every couple of days. They’ll grow quickly!
- Don’t let cucumbers get too large before harvesting or they will taste bitter.
- Harvest regular slicing cucumbers when they about 6 to 8 inches long (slicing varieties).
- Harvest dills at 4 to 6 inches long and pickling cucumbers at 2 inches long.
- The large burpless cucumbers can be up to 10 inches long and some types are even larger.
- Cucumbers are best picked before their 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.
- Use a knife or clippers to cut the fruit off the plant. Pulling it may damage the vine.
- Keep on picking! If you don’t, as plants mature, they will stop producing.
How to Store Cucumbers
Cucumbers are over 90 percent water. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to retain moisture.
They will keep for 7 to 10 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.
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