How to Grow Cucumbers in Your Vegetable Garden How to Grow Cucumbers in Your Vegetable Garden
Cucumbers are crunchy summer vegetables that are eaten raw or pickled. They are easy to grow, allowing even the most novice gardener to enjoy an abundant crop of this prolific producer. Follow these steps to grow cucumbers outdoors in your vegetable garden.
Step 1 – Prepare Soil
Cucumber soil preparation is essential for a healthy and abundant yield. Select an area in your vegetable garden that receives indirect sunlight or partial shade. Prepare the planting site a month before sowing seeds. Remove weeds from the site and break up large clods with a spade. Add manure or compost to enrich the soil, and then rake to ensure that goes deep. Make sure the soil temperature is between 70 to 80 degrees before you sow the seeds.
Step 2 – Plant Cucumber Seeds and Erect Trellis
Cucumber seeds are fairly large and easy to handle. These can be started indoors in peat pots and transplanted outdoors once the soil temperature is warmer, or sown directly into the soil outdoors.
To plant seeds, make a mound per plant that is 1 ½ to 2 inches high and space the mounds a foot apart. Sow 4 to 5 seeds an inch deep into each mound to ensure optimum seed to soil contact. Water the soil and cover the seeds with netting or mesh to prevent birds from chewing on them.
Erect a trellis or frame to the north of each mound with stakes and chicken wire or wire mesh. Make sure the stakes are sturdy and push them deep into the soil to support the weight of the heavy cucumber plants as they grow.
Step 3 – Thin Seedlings
The cucumber seeds will take a week to ten days to germinate. Thinning is necessary once the seedlings are 1 ½ to 2 inches tall to leave one healthy plant per mound, since cucumbers have a good germination rate. Snip off the weaker seedlings at soil level.
Step 4 – Caring for Cucumber Plants
- Train the young plants to grow up the climbing frame or trellis by gently tying them with string or cloth and remove it once they begin to attach themselves to the frame.
- Water the cucumber plants frequently to ensure the soil around them is moist. Water at soil level and prevent wetting the foliage since it could lead to mildew or fungal disease.
- Water more when the plants begin to fruit to prevent a bitter and stunted produce.
- Add a layer or two of mulch to help the soil retain moisture and prevent competing weeds from growing.
- Feed your plants liquid fertilizer frequently, especially if it is very hot.
Step 5 – Prevent Pests and Diseases
Avoid watering the leaves of the cucumber plants to prevent fungal or moisture disease. Cucumber plants attract the cucumber beetle that spreads bacteria. If you notice this pest, remove it with tweezers and spray your plants with an antibacterial soap to deter it.
Step 6 – Harvest Cucumbers
Prevent bitter cucumbers by snipping them off with scissors when they are the size you like. Harvest them frequently to encourage vines to produce more.