How to Grow Cucumbers At Home

How to Grow Cucumbers At Home

Cucumbers offer a refreshing burst of hydration and electrolytes when tossed in a greek salad, served alongside watermelon, or pickled as accompaniment to a masterful sandwich. A classic summertime delight, cucumbers are best enjoyed picked fresh from the home garden. Luckily, growing cucumbers at home is easy to do! Follow this guide to cultivating cucumbers, from choosing your preferred type of cucumber to planting, growing to harvesting, and more.

Types-of-Cucumbers

Types of Cucumbers

The first line of business is to decide which of the two cucumber types is best suited to your gardening situation. Vining cucumbers develop long trailing vines, grow quickly, and produce a high yield. This variety is an excellent option for outdoor gardens with plenty of space for trellises or fences where the vines can freely roam. Bush cucumbers don’t produce as much, but their compact growing pattern makes them superior for indoor growing, porch front containers, or smaller outdoor gardens.

Planting-Cucumbers

Planting Cucumbers

There are three main factors to consider when planting anything: the best time(s) of year for sowing, location, and method. We’ll dive into each one at a time.

When-to-Sow

When to Sow

Cucumber plants don’t tolerate frigid temperatures well and will die off in a frost. Therefore, you should plan to sow your seeds a minimum of two weeks after the last frost in early spring or whenever the soil reaches a consistent temperature of at least 70°F. For most regions, this will be late May or early June. Colder regions may need to wait even longer for the soil to warm up.

If you don’t want to wait that long, you can germinate your seeds indoors on a warm surface, such as a heat mat or warm windowsill, and then transplant the sprouts outside once the weather shifts. If the ground is still cold by early summer, you can try placing black plastic over the planting area to help speed up the warming process.

Where-to-Plant-Seeds

Where to Plant Seeds

Cucumbers love plenty of warmth and 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight, so you will need to allocate an area of your garden that gets enough of both. They’ll also need plenty of space to grow to their mature size of 6 to 8 feet in height and up to 4 feet in width. If you plan on using trellises, each plant will only need about 1 square foot of space.

Cucumbers grow best in highly fertile soil with neutral or very slight acidity. Adding a few inches of compost and aged manure can help achieve this, especially for nutrient-lacking or clay-based soils. Cucumbers need plenty of water, too, and the enriched soil will support moisture. On the other hand, the soil shouldn’t be so compact that it doesn’t drain excess water. Too much water can lead to root rot and other diseases. To prevent this, build small mounds about 4 to 6 inches high of nutrient-dense, well-draining soil.

How-to-Sow-Cucumber-Seeds

How to Sow Cucumber Seeds

Plant 2 to 3 cucumber seeds about 1 inch into the soil in a row. Vining cucumbers on a trellis should be 1 foot apart. Vining varieties without a trellis need 3 to 4 feet of space. Bush cucumbers can be 2 or 3 feet apart. Next, set up your trellises (if applicable) and mulch the entire area with organic mulch, shredded leaves or straw. If your garden is prone to digging scavengers, place some netting, fleece or glass cloches over your seedlings.

Growing-Care

Growing & Care

Water is the most crucial aspect of cucumber plant care. They need consistent watering, or else they may turn bitter. Water them in the morning or early afternoon about an inch per week, and even more during hot spells. Once fruit starts to appear, give them about a gallon per week. Be careful not to overwater them either. Stick a finger into their soil, and if it’s dry about an inch deep, then they need water. Make sure to water the base of the plants to prevent mildewy leaves.

Once the sprouts reach about 4 inches in height, thin the plants until they are about 2 feet apart. Add more organic mulch or manure as needed, and keep an eye out for pests, especially slugs. Optionally, you can add liquid fertilizer to the soil around the base of the plants about a week after they begin to bloom.

Harvesting

Harvesting

In general, cucumbers will grow to maturity and be ready for harvest by mid-summer or halfway through autumn at the latest. Specifically, regular slicing cucumbers will be ready for picking when they reach about 6 to 8 inches long. Dill cucumbers are harvestable at 4 to 6 inches and pickling cukes at about 2 inches. Never let your cucumbers grow to be larger than 10 inches. Overripe cucumbers may turn yellow and soft, develop tough skin, or taste bitter. The best cucumbers are green and crisp!

That said, the flavor quality and productivity of cukes will also improve with frequent harvesting. Expect to harvest every couple of days until they stop producing. To harvest cucumbers properly, use a sharp knife, clippers or garden shears to cut the fruit off the plant at the stem. Make sure to support the vine and don’t make any sudden pulling or ripping motions that could damage the plant.

Useful-Tips

Useful Tips

Once you’ve gotten the hang of growing cucumbers, you can start leveling up your gardening technique with a few additional tips. First, pollinators are your friends. By transferring pollen from one plant to another, they play a critical role in fertilizing your cucumber plant to produce fruit. To attract pollinators like bees and insects, spray your cucumber plants with sugar water.

Many vegetables benefit from having compatible neighbors in the garden. For cucumbers, sunflowers are a classic match. Cucumber plants release cucurbitacin into the soil, which turns cucumbers bitter. Sunflowers counteract this effect naturally by producing an enzyme that neutralizes cucurbitacin. In addition, the thick and sturdy, stock-like stem of a sunflower plant makes a convenient natural trellis for your vining cucumber variety.

Last but not least, consider how you are storing your hard-earned produce. Cucumbers need to retain as much water as possible to keep as long as 10 days. Wrap your cucumbers in plastic and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.

In-Conclusion

In Conclusion

Cucumbers are a fairly easy-to-grow vegetable to add to your roster of summertime produce. Plus, they produce so prolifically that you’ll have plenty to share with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. After all, the best part about growing your food, aside from the superior flavor and quality, is the ability to share the delight with others! Come spring this year, you’ll be well-set to start cultivating crisp, refreshing cucumbers in the comfort of your home garden.