- Exposure: Full sun
- When to plant: Late spring about two weeks after the last frost date
- Pests and diseases to watch out for: Cucumber beetles, powdery mildew
How to Plant Cucumbers
Cucumbers like it hot, so don't try to rush them into the garden too early in the season. In cool climates, start cukes from seeds indoors about three to four weeks before the last expected frost, but be careful not to disturb the roots when transplanting. In warmer regions, plant seeds directly in the ground. Add compost to the garden bed first, push seeds into the soil about an inch deep, and keep moist until germination. When the plants are two inches tall, thin to about a foot apart for bush types or three to four feet apart for vining types. Mulch to preserve moisture.
- Bush (more compact bushy type): Pick-a-Bushel, Parisian Gherkin, Salad Bush
- Vining (long vines that creep along the ground or climb a trellis): Diva, Martini, Straight Eight
How to Care for Cucumbers
Cucumbers are heavy feeders, so give them a balanced fertilizer once a month. They're also thirsty, especially when they are setting fruit, so water deeply when the weather is dry.
Can you grow cucumbers vertically?
You sure can! They love to climb (even the bush varieties are somewhat vine-y), so give them a trellis, tomato cage, or pea netting to scramble up. Providing some type of support also keeps cukes off the ground so they develop better shapes and stay cleaner. The stems are strong enough so you don't have to support the fruit as it grows, as you do some other fruits, such as watermelons.
Do I have to "train" cucumbers up a trellis?
Not really. Their tiny tendrils will curl around and grasp any nearby surface to climb upwards. You can place tendrils where you want them to go, but they'll do it pretty well on their own, too.
How do you keep cucumbers producing?
Pick them, pick them, and pick them some more! The more you harvest, the more the plant will produce. Check your plants every day once they start providing fruit because cucumbers can double in size in a day! If mature cucumbers are left on the vine, the plant stops making new fruit.
How do you harvest cucumbers?
Don't twist or rip the fruit off the plant, or you may damage the vine. Instead, use kitchen shears to snip off fruit. Read the seed label so you'll know when they're ready to pick. Some varieties can be harvested when tiny or pickling size, while others can be left to grow larger for slicing.
"Make sure you plant pollinator-friendly flowers near your cucumbers," says Diane Blazek, executive director of the National Garden Bureau. "Cucumbers need to be pollinated to produce. If you don't attract pollinators to your garden, you may get cucumber flowers but no fruit, or you'll get oddly-shaped fruit."
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