Grow Your Own Cucumbers: A Guide
Cucumbers are a fresh crunchy taste of summer. Pickle them, slice them, or use them on your face because cucumbers are packed with nutrients.
Cucumbers are cucurbits like watermelons, pumpkins, summer and winter squash and gourds. Cucurbits are crops with sprawling vines, tendrils and large lobed leaves. Flowers on the vine are bright yellow. The plant grows two flowers, the male staminate and the female pistillate. Cucumbers are a subtropical plant that grow well in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. They require full sun, a large area to grow, warm days and nights, and abundant water. It is possible to grow cucumbers in limited space by giving them support to grow vertically. Dwarf varieties are also available for container gardening.
Types of Cucumbers
- Pickling cucumbers grow 2 to 6 inches
- Slicing cucumbers grow 6 to 8 inches
- Burpless cucumbers grow 5 to 15 inches
Start cucumber seeds indoors two weeks before planting in the garden. Plant seeds in peat pots. You can also plant seeds directly in the ground.
Soil for Growing Cucumbers
The garden soil for growing cucumbers should be loose and well draining. Soil pH should be about 6.5. Add manure or compost to enrich the soil. Test your soil to determine the pH and nutrient level.
Planting Time for Cucumbers
Cucumbers are planted in the late spring to early summer. Be sure there is no chance of frost before planting cucumber plants.
Make small mounds in the garden 2 to 3 feet apart. Plant 4 to 5 seeds in each mound. Rows are 5 to 6 feet wide. Apply mulch to the garden to lock in moisture, reduce weeds, prevent soil compaction and keep the cucumbers from rotting.
Cucumbers need slow deep watering especially for cucumber seeds. Water the cucumbers in the morning and early afternoon to allow the plant’s leaves to dry before night which helps prevent leaf diseases. Later in the season you can decrease the watering since the root systems are established.
Cucumbers are ready for picking after 60 days. Pick cucumbers before they get too big or turn yellow because they start to lose their flavor and become bitter. The cucumber plant produces more fruit when you continue harvesting.
Before planting cucumbers add a 5-10-10 fertilizer in the garden. Use fertilizer one week after blooms appear on the vines and again in three weeks. Do not over fertilize because too much encourages the vine to vigorously grow while inhibiting the growth of the cucumbers.
Pests and Diseases found on Cucumbers
There are many pest and diseases that can affect cucumber plants. Pests include aphids, pickle worms, mites and cucumber beetles. Diseases found on cucumbers are anthracnose, powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt and angular leaf spot. Cucumber beetles can do a lot of damage to plants, destroying seedlings, eating leaves and flowers and feeding on roots. The beetles also spread bacterial wilt disease and mosaic virus. Bacterial wilt disease turns leaves brown or yellow and makes them wilt. The bacteria blocks nutrients killing the plant. To get rid of the cucumber beetle pick them off the plant and keep your garden free of leaves, weeds and debris. You can shield your cucumber plants with cheesecloth or a commercial row cover. If pest problems persist, you can use an organic insecticide for a chemical-free solution.