How to Grow Cucumbers
Cucumber plants and, by association, cucumbers are relatively easy to grow. As long as you grow and care for the plants in a proper manner, they should bear cucumbers within a short period of time. The exact life cycle of the cucumbers depend largely on the type of plant that you are growing. There are two types: vining cucumbers and bush cucumbers. Here are some helpful tips to help you with this endeavor:
Planting Cucumber Seeds
The most important thing that you need to know about cucumber seeds and plants is that they are warm season vegetables. The best way to ensure that they survive is to plant them in soil that is thoroughly warmed and when there is no chance of frost. This is why you need to wait about two weeks after the final frost has taken place to plant the seeds. Aim for soil that is no less than 70°F warm.
You should also ensure that the seeds are planted in an area exposed to direct sunlight and where the soil has a pH value of 7. If the soil is not fertile enough, try mixing manure or organic compost into the soil. For the bush cucumbers, you can plant the seeds between 3 and 5 feet away from one another. For the vining variety, you can leave about a foot between plants as they will be relying on a trellis.
Especially with bush plants, it is best to use mulch on the soil. This will keep pests away but will also keep the leaves off the ground and prevent rotting.
Growing the Cucumber Plants
Cucumber plants need a lot of water. If you don’t provide them with the water that they require, the vegetables will taste quite bitter. Depending on the climate, you should give the plants at least an inch of water each week. Once the fruit begins to form, you will need to increase the watering to about a gallon a week. When watering the cucumbers, you will need to work to keep the leaves dry. If they do get wet, there is a chance that rot will set in.
You can use either a granular or liquid fertilizer. For liquid fertilizers, you will need one that is low in nitrogen but high in potassium and phosphorus. You will need to add this when you first plant the seeds, after they bloom, and then once every three weeks. It is important not to over fertilize the soil.
Harvesting the Cucumbers
You can harvest the cucumbers when they have reached the right size. This depends on the type of cucumbers that you have planted. Regular cucumbers can be grown to about six to eight inches while dills can be harvested when they are about four to six inches long. If you want to use the cucumbers for pickles, harvest them at around two inches. Of course, there are cucumbers that can grow too much longer than these varieties.
The best way to know if a cucumber should be harvested is to look at its color and feel. If it is green all over and firm to the touch, it is ready.
This is what you need to know about planting, growing, and harvesting cucumbers. If you would like to know more, check out the Gardener’s Guide to Growing Cucumbers: The Growing Cucumbers in the Vegetable Garden Book: