Cucumbers are best when eaten raw or pickled. Fast maturing in warm weather, they’ll trail and climb along any given trellis. Bush and compact varieties are great in containers. Cucumbers are very sensitive to frost, so seeds or transplants should be set outdoors when soil temperatures are in the 60s.
Cucumbers require full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sun, and rich, well‐drained soil. Prepare the planting area by mixing 3‐4” of composted manure and lime into the top 6‐10” of the soil. Mix in an all‐purpose granular fertilizer in the bottom of each planting hole.
Cucumbers thrive in warm weather and is best planted outdoors end of May through the first week of July when soil temperatures are in the 60s or above. Space groups of seeds 3‐4’ apart in hills or raised beds. Sow 4‐6 seeds 1⁄2” deep and cover seeds with a thin layer of soil. Once seeds have germinated, pinch off the weakest ones so you are left with the strongest one or two.
You can start seeds indoors in May, 3 weeks before desired transplanting date. It is recommended to start seeds indoors in pots which can be planted in the directly ground, because cucumbers do not like roots disturbance. Water in with a diluted liquid seaweed or B1.
Keep new beds well weeded and slightly moist. You can cover new plantings with floating row cover to prevent cucumber beetles and other insects. Remove row covers when plants begin to flower. Plastic or organic mulches can help heat the soil and retain moisture. It also helps to trellis your cucumbers to save space and prevent diseases.
You can extend your harvest season by putting in your first planting in late may and your second planting 4 weeks later in June.
How much water your plants will require depends on the soil and weather. Cucumbers want average, evenly moist watering during the growing phase. Once they begin to flower and set fruit they need heavy watering, water deeply when the top 2” of the soil is dry, to allow for even and tasty fruit development. Cucumbers are more than 90% water, and water stressed fruit will be bitter and/or have skinny portions. Drip irrigation is the best way to provide even moisture and while having fewer disease issues.
Cucumbers are heavy feeders. Don’t forget to mix an all‐purpose granular fertilizer into the bottom of each hole before planting. Side dress plants after 3 weeks with composted manure or all‐purpose granular fertilizer.
Cucumbers are ready to harvest when the flower drops off the end of the fruit. It is important to keep picking your cucumbers (may be daily in warm weather) to maximize production. Generally pickling cucumbers are picked at 2‐6” long and slicing cucumbers at 6‐10” long.
Good gardening practices such as crop rotation, drip irrigation, proper planting time, floating row covers and removal of entire plants when harvest is done all help prevent many pest and disease challenges.