Everything You Need to Know about How to Plant Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a classic, summer plant to grow in your garden. A bountiful harvest screams delicious salads with cucumbers and tomatoes, and jars of fresh pickles lining your shelf. Learning how to plant cucumbers is easy! Cucumbers are one of the easiest vegetable plants to grow in your garden, perfect for beginners or a child’s garden.
Types of Cucumbers
Cucumbers come in two different forms: vining and bush. Vining cucumbers grow long vines that need a trellis or fence to attach and grow up. This variety tends to yield a larger harvest throughout the growing season.
Bush cucumbers are compact plants, perfect for those who want to learn how to plant cucumbers in containers. This variety is perfect for small gardens. The harvest tends to be around a single time as the plant reaches maturity instead of over the entire season. If you want fresh cucumbers all summer, try planting several different bush plants each two weeks apart.
When to Plant Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a tropical plant, preferring hot weather. The plant prefers moist, humid weather when water is plentiful. Cucumbers are NOT frost hardy. A frost could easily damage or kill your plants, so it is wise to wait until the threat of frost passes entirely. That means you might want to wait a week or two after your final frost date. If you don’t know your final frost date, determine your USDA Hardiness Zone and look for the final frost date.
If you are worried that it is too soon to plant cucumbers, check the soil temperature. Cucumbers like when the soil temperatures are in the 70-degree range consistently.
Creating the Perfect Conditions for Cucumbers
The hardest plant about how to plant cucumbers is making sure you have the right type of soil for the plants. Cucumbers need warm, fertile soil. The first thing you should do is check the pH level of your soil. You want it to be between 6.0 and 6.8. Some plants can tolerate more alkaline soil, up to 7.6 but lower is preferred.
If you have clay soil, improve it by adding organic matter. Dense soil benefits from peat moss or compost. Sandy, light soils are perfect, especially for northern climates, because this type of soil warms quickly.
Cucumbers also need a variety of nutrients and vitamins to produce a bountiful harvest. Adding compost to your soil adds the necessary nutrients and microbes that your plant desires.
Picking the right location for your cucumbers is important as well. Cucumbers prefer to grow in full sun, but they can tolerate part shade. The more sun the plants receive, the more fruit they will grow. Observe your garden throughout the day and select an area that receives an abundance of sunshine.
How to Plant Cucumbers in Your Garden Bed
Now that you prepared your soil, it is time to start planting! Bush varieties should be planted 36 to 60 inches apart. They might be compact, but these plants still need space to grow. Vining varieties should be planted one foot apart.
You can plant seeds directly into your garden. Another option is to start the seeds indoors two to three weeks before you plan to put them into the ground. It gives up a bit of a head start, but indoors must stay warm and above 70 degrees.
If you are worried that your soil might be a few degrees too cool, you can cover the rows with black plastic until the temperature is consistently warmer. Some people don’t like to put plastic in their garden, so the other option is to add an abundance of mulch. Organic mulch choices, such as pine straw, shredded leaves or grass clippings, will keep the soil warmer while reducing weeds.
Vining cucumbers do better with a trellis or fence. If you leave them to grow along the ground, the plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases. Install the trellis beside where you plant the cucumbers, or consider using tomato cages which can support a few vines each. As the plants get larger, help them find and attach to the trellis, then they will grow upwards.
Planting Cucumbers in a Container
Certain varieties do better in containers than others. Bush varieties are ideal, but you still need to provide some staking for those robust plants.
The soil in your container should be a mix of compost, potting soil, perlite, and peat moss. Plant your cucumbers in the containers once the threat of frost passes. Put them in the container, and remember to water well.
The container needs to have several drainage holes. While cucumbers love moist soil, drainage makes sure the plants don’t drown. You can pick plastic or ceramic pots. Cucumbers aren’t picky, but the pot should at least eight inches deep. Put a stake into the pot and tie the plant to the stake as it gets larger.
Maintaining Your Cucumber Plants
Cucumbers are easy to care for once planted, and they don’t have a list of crazy needs.
- The most important thing to remember is that cucumbers need soil that is consistently moist. Make sure you water at least an inch per week. If the temperatures are scorching, water more often.
Without enough water, your plants won’t grow as well. The fruits might be smaller, strange shaped or have a bad taste. Water is crucial for cucumbers!
- Adding some fertilizer never harms your plant. You can find a multi-purpose fertilizer that works for all vegetables at most stores. Feed based on the directions.
- Remember that you must harvest the cucumbers, whether you want to use them right then or not. Don’t stop picking the cucumbers. If you let the cucumbers set on the vine, they will turn yellow, and the plant will slow production.
Prepare for Fresh Cucumbers
Everyone loves fresh cucumbers. You’ll find dozens of ways to use them, and your friends will always want some of your extras. Once you learn how to plant cucumbers, you’ll never want to buy them at the store again. Fresh cucumbers are the way to go. Don’t feel intimidated. Instead, head out to your garden and start planting your cucumbers.