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How to Grow Cucumbers

Cucumbers, commonly called "cukes", are a favorite garden vegetable. Most gardeners grow at least one variety, if not more. Although quite susceptible to insect and disease problems, these prolific producers are easy to grow.

Cucumbers are vining plants, members of the Cucurbita family which includes pumpkins, squash, and gourds. They grow best, when allowed to sprawl along the ground in your garden. This is because secondary roots will develop along the vine at the junction between the vine and the leaf. Secondary roots are a source of additional nutrients for your plant and fruits' growth.

If you have limited space, cucumbers are very successfully grown in a small space, by training them up a fence or trellis. If a trellis or fence is your only choice, go for it. You will not be disappointed.

Fresh cucumbers are great on vegetable trays with dip, sliced or in salads.


Varieties of Cucumbers:

  • Slicing Cucumbers

  • Pickling Cucumbers - more on Pickling Cucumbers

  • Oriental Cucumbers - These are long and thin, with many over a foot long.


Days to Maturity:

55 to 65 days. Once cucumbers begin to ripen, you can usually harvest them for several weeks.


Sowing Cucumber Seeds:


Plant seeds in rows or hills, planting them one to 1 inch deep. When planting in rows, sow cucumber seeds 2 " to 3" apart, thinning seedlings to 6" apart.. If you are planting in hills, plant four to five per hill. After they have germinated, keep the best two to three. Cover very lightly with soil.Water the first day and if there is no rain, every two to three days until they germinate.


Growing Cucumber Plants:


Cucumber plants require a loose, well drained soil. Like other members of the cucurbita family, they are big feeders. Early in the season, provide plenty of  high nitrogen fertilizer. Switch over to a more balanced fertilizer, after the flowers begin to bloom. A side dressing of fertilizer and regular feedings of fertilizer will significantly help the health of the plant and the size of the harvest.

Provide lots of water, for fast growth.

Tip: Cucumbers grow quickly. They are at their best, when picked before they get too big. Encourage new fruit development by picking regularly. Do not allow the fruit to get overripe on the vine or they will slow down, or even cease bearing new fruit.

While cucumbers grow best on the ground, they will also do will grown up a fence or trellis. They grow well on Veggie Cages (see below), too. Train young plants up the fence or trellis. After they get started, they will continue to climb on their own, and will fix themselves to their support, by curling their tendrils around the support.  

Veggie Cages  This revolutionary cage makes a great cucumber trellis. It expands a whopping 7ft! Stores flat in almost no space. Try them on cucumbers, sweet peas, tomatoes, pole beans, and other climbing climbing flowers and vegetables.

A word about hot weather: Cucumber plants do not like mid summer's heat and humidity. The leaves will wilt and can burn in the hot, midday sun. Using overhead sprinklers intermittently during midday, can alleviate the problem. Shade covers are also effective. Or, you can grow them in an area that is shaded to partially shaded from the midday sun. 


Insects and Pests:


Like all members of the Cucurbita family, the Cucumber Beetle is the dreaded pest of cucumbers. Cucumber Beetles are either striped or spotted. They feed on the leaves of the plants and can cause even greater damage as they spread disease from one plant to another. They are effectively treated with most insecticides. Mild insecticides like Sevin are most commonly used for effective treatment.

Public enemy number one to the cucurbita family is the Squash Vine Borer which bores into the vine, usually near the tap root ,and will eat right through the vine. Once it gets inside, the only way to kill it is to surgically remove it. Cutting Squash Vine Borers out of your vine is done by slicing up or down from the entry area until you find the pest. Then, apply fungicide around the wound to minimize disease.

Squash Bugs will suck the juices of plants. If severe, the plant will die. More on Squash Bugs

Aphids and a variety of other insect pests can also cause problems, depending upon where you live.


Disease:


As a member of the Cucurbita family, cucumbers are susceptible to the same diseases as pumpkin and squash. These include both fungus and bacterial problems. Powdery mildew is also a problem with cucumber plants. If not treated at the onset of powdery mildew, the disease can be fatal to your crop. Treat with fungicides at the first sign of problems, or just before hot humid weather arrives in your area.

More on Powdery Mildew


Hardiness:


Cucumbers are susceptible to spring and fall frost. They grow best in temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees.


Cucumber Recipes:

May we suggest:

Nutritional Value of Cucumbers


More information:

Cucumber in a Bottle - An amazing story about a cucumber grown and preserved in a bottle, then forgotten for decades.

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