How to Grow Cucumbers

  Armenian Cucumber
Cucumbers are tropical in origin and will not tolerate even a light frost. Planting seeds too early in the season will yield spotty results. When direct sowing in the garden the soil temperature must be 60° F or higher and the air temperature must be equally warm. Good drainage is critical in the selected site and if this is a concern, raise the soil in the middle of the bed to elevate the planting area and improve drainage. Cucumbers also like a slightly acidic soil and the addition of lime to the garden bed before planting can be beneficial.

Plant seeds in pots 3-4" in diameter allowing 4-5 weeks for the seedlings to be garden ready. It is usually safe to plant cucumbers outside two weeks after the last frost. Whether transplanting or seeding directly in the garden, cucumbers should be spaced 8 — 12" apart in rows 5 — 6' apart. Immature plants can be very delicate and even the slightest chill can cause them to deteriorate within minutes. For this reason, harden seedlings off by gradually increasing their exposure to outside conditions, a little each day over several days.

Cucumbers vines like to spread up to 6' and one way to limit their encroachment on other parts of your garden is to grow them vertically on a trellis. Install your trellis prior to planting so you do not damage the plant roots. Trellising also produces more uniformly shaped cucumbers and makes them easier to find. You will need to gently move the tendrils around your trellis to get the immature plants started growing vertically. If you live in a hot, dry climate such as the desert southwest or southern California, trellising may expose your cucumbers to too much sun resulting in pale colored and bitter fruits. In these locations it is better to grow cucumbers on the ground where their foliage forms a protective canopy.

A single over-ripe cucumber on a vine will halt production, so once your cucumbers begin to ripen, you must pick immediately and keep at it daily. Cucumbers may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but after that they begin to shrivel and lose flavor.

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