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Cucumbers are a great summer vegetable to grow in your garden in the summer months. Cucumbers are delicious in salads and can be used in a number of tasty garden dishes. You can also learn to grow cucumbers to make your very own dill pickles!
In this gardening guide, we will share step by step tips for growing cucumbers easily and successfully. Everything you need to know to get started with growing your own plants is here!
Choosing Which Types of Cucumbers to Grow
There are a number of different types of cucumbers. If you start researching enough, you will find hundreds of different cucumber varieties!
One thing many people may not realize is that cucumbers are technically a fruit, much like a tomato. If you already grow tomatoes, cucumbers can be a nice addition to your garden.
The cucumis sativus plant is great for pickling, in salads, on sandwiches, or just enjoyed as-is for a tasty light summer snack. Some cucumber varieties have been known to be best for different uses. They also come in a variety of different colors, some being bright yellow-green and others having a dark green color.
One popular choice for seeds are David Garden’s Boston heirloom seeds. These are the ideal type of cucumber to use for pickling, and they are tasty for a number of other uses as well.
If you plan on making pickles, it is important to choose a variety that is meant for pickling. Cucumbers with thin skins are better for canning. If the skin is very thick or waxy, you may not have crunchy pickles!
Another factor to consider is whether you want cucumbers with seeds or without seeds. Burped means the cukes will have seeds, and burpless means without seeds.
How to Grow Cucumbers in Your Garden Outdoors
It is very important that you make sure you have the right weather conditions to grow the cucumbers in your garden.
The cucumber plant originated in India. The plant loves hot weather, and is considered to be sub-tropical. This is important to know if you live in a colder climate, especially when starting seeds. You do not want to start your seeds too early.
If you get very hot and humid summers, you will likely have a lot of success growing the cucumber plants outdoors!
You can decide whether you wish to start from seed or start with seedlings to plant in the garden. Seeds give you the most control, as you will be able to choose exactly which variety you want to grow.
If you are starting with seedlings, you may be limited by only what is available. However, starting with seedlings also has its advantages because seedlings are already started and ready to grow.
Step 1: Start Your Seeds Indoors
Cucumbers should be started indoors for most climates. This is because they need it to be at least 80 degrees F for them to germinate. New to planting seedlings? Be sure you grab my Free Printable Seed Starting Tracker!
It can be helpful to keep them well insulated indoors if you do not normally keep your home this warm. You may wish to place a clear plastic lid over the seedlings that will help retain warmth. Placing them in a sunny spot can also help.
Starting the seedlings in biodegradable peat pots is a good way to do it, but there are other ways to make your own seed starters using newspapers. Starting them in their own seedling pots will make your life a lot easier! Doing this makes it super easy to transplant the plants into the ground when ready. You will not have to worry about damaging the roots of the plant during the transplant process.
After you start the seeds, it is time to get busy preparing the garden spot where you will grow your cucumbers!
Step 2: Preparing Your Garden Bed Area
You will want to prepare the soil about a month before you plant your seedlings. It is very important this area is free of weeds. Cucumbers do not do well when competing for nutrients with other plants.
You may wish to mix the soil with garden compost or other organic compounds at this time to make sure the garden soil is ready. Cucumbers need soil that has a pH ranging between 6 and 7 pH.
A soil testing meter can be a wonderful thing to have when growing cucumbers. It can help ensure that your soil is at the right pH and is the perfect moisture necessary for optimal growing conditions.
Most people find that cucumbers do very well in raised garden beds. This is an easy way to help keep weeds away, and also gives your cucumbers a nice amount of space to spread out.
Some cucumbers grow as a long spreading vine, and others grow as a bush. You may wish to invest in a trellis for your cucumbers if they are the type that grows as a vine. Since they are a sub-tropical vine, they do spread out quite a bit. Vertical gardening is an excellent option to consider also.
Step 3: Transplanting and Maintaining Your Cucumber Plants
Once you have successfully started your cucumbers from seed, and the garden patch is prepared, you are ready to transplant the seedlings into the ground.
Cucumbers need a lot of room to grow. Depending on the variety you are growing, you will want to make sure there is ample space in the garden for each seedling.
In most cases, you will want to plant each seedling at least 30″ apart. If you plan on using a trellis, you can likely space them a bit closer, such as 18″ apart from one another. As the plant grows, simply help the plant find its way to the trellis.
Some cucumbers grow as a vine that spreads out, while others are bushier. If you are unsure of how much space you will need for the variety you are growing, the seed packet will generally have recommendations for spacing.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Cucumbers?
Cucumbers require little maintenance, but a good fruit and vegetable garden fertilizer can help your plants get a good start. One example is Jobe’s Organics Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer.
Be careful not to over-fertilize. Read the directions and manufacturer’s directions. How often you need to fertilize will highly depend on which type of fertilizer you wish to use.
Mulching Your Cucumbers
It is also a very good idea to use mulch around your seedlings after they are planted. A thick layer of 3″ mulch will help prevent weed growth and help the soil to retain moisture.
Mulch can also help your cucumbers absorb more water. This is how you can ensure your cucumbers will be juicy.
Watering Your Plants
Cucumbers do not like to have excess water, but they do require that the soil be consistently moist. It is important the water properly drains. Cucumbers will not grow in standing water. Puddles can also cause problems.
For most varieties, watering consistently 1-2 times a week is a good amount. If temperatures are very hot and there is no rain, you may need to water a bit more often. This will help ensure healthy plants.
Your cucumbers will start to grow quickly once the plant is established in the ground. Something that is important to know when growing these plants is there will be some that have male blooms and some that have female blooms. Both are required for successful growth.
The male blooms typically appear first, but they do not generally stay for long. The female blooms will appear later, and you will notice these flowers look a bit different because these are the ones which actually have the cucumber!
How to Harvest Cucumbers
It is important you check the vines each day for signs of cucumbers. You can pick them as soon as they reach your desired size. In general, it is best to pick the cucumber sooner rather than later. You never want to let a cucumber turn yellow, even when growing the varieties that are yellow in color.
Bigger is not better with cucumbers. Large-sized cukes can put additional strain on the plant, and they will also not taste as good. It is best to pick them when they are smaller, about 4″ to 6″ long – you will have a much better flavor!
You should never pick the cucumber by pulling it from the vine. This could cause damage to the vine of your garden plant. Instead, use a pair of kitchen scissors or garden snips.
Your plant will continue to produce fruit after you pick your first round. This is very nice because you’ll find you have a very good steady supply all summer long.
You should eat your cucumbers within a week of harvesting. If you find yourself with more cukes than you can eat, there are a number of ways to use them!
They make for an excellent garnish for a number of drinks, and we have several cucumber salad recipes for you to try!
You of course, can also choose to pickle your cukes. This is why many people choose the pickling varieties, as it gives you the widest array of different options.
Learning to Grow Cucumbers is Fun & Easy!
Learning how to grow your own cucumbers is a great way to have steady supply of fresh cukes for your favorite garden recipes and pickling.
It is easy to grow cucumbers, and it can be a lot of fun to watch them take off. It’s also a great thing to grow with kids because once they start producing fruit you will have a steady supply of new cucumbers to pick all summer long.
Best of all, you can make yummy treats like cucumber salad and your own cold dill pickles!
Do you have any questions about growing cucumbers? Don’t be afraid to ask in our comments section below – we are happy to help! Is there anything we might have missed?
If you’d like to share your experiences and tips for growing cucumbers, we’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!