Growing Cucumbers in Containers
Home-grown cucumbers are delicious and convenient. If you grow them in a container you can move them anywhere in the yard that gets enough sun. The quality of the soil is easier to control in a container, and when garden space is scarce, a container plant can yield just as much as an outdoor plant.
Step 1 - Choose the Right Cucumber Variety
Certain varieties are better for container growing than others, so check the back of your seed packet to see if it is recommended for container use. Also, some varieties are better used for pickling while others are best for eating fresh. The Salad Bush grows small 8-inch cucumbers, and its relatively short vines make it a good container plant. For pickling, try the Midget Bush Pickler.
Step 2 - Prepare the Pot and Soil
Cucumbers require an environment where the water can drain well from the soil. Prepare a good, well-draining soil by mixing equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, and compost. Use a growing container with a diameter of 12 inches (standard pots generally have the same measurements for width and height) made of either plastic or clay. Plastic pots will not need to be watered as often, since they dry out slower than the clay pots. Make sure your pot has plenty of draining holes on the bottom and line the bottom with a fiberglass filter to keep the soil from washing out of the holes. You can also line the pot with several layers of newspaper and an inch-deep layer of pebbles.
Step 3 - Install Staking System
Cucumbers grow on vines, and giving the vines something to help them grow vertically keeps your vines from dragging on the ground. There are many different staking systems, but a tepee system works well. Place the tepee in the pot before you fill it with soil and start planting.
Step 4 - Plant Cucumber Seeds
To germinate, cucumbers need warmth. Wait until the temperature is consistently around 70 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. Fill the pot to about 1 inch from the top with a soil mixture. Sprinkle 5 or 6 seeds in the center and cover with 1/2 inch of soil. Water thoroughly.
Step 5 - Supply Water, Food, and Sun
After germinating, cut down the smallest seedlings, leaving the two strongest. After they reach about 8 inches, narrow down to one per pot. When eliminating seedlings, don't pull them out by the roots because you may injure the remaining seedlings' root systems. Make sure your cucumber plant gets around 8 hours of sunlight a day. Check daily for watering needs. In mid-summer, fertilize weekly after watering with a water soluble fertilizer. Harvest regularly. Most cucumbers are sweeter when picked on the smaller side. Also, the more you harvest, the more cucumbers your plant will yield.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Kathy Bosin adds, "Once you see a cucumber at almost harvest size, check your plants everyday - once they come on, they come on strong. Plan accordingly, and you can make several batches of pickles."