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Cucumbers are one of the most versatile vegetables. They are a great addition to any salad, provide another layer of taste in a sauce, can be pickled, or can be eaten straight from the vine.
Growing cucumbers is also one of the easiest things you can do in your garden. Since they are a forgiving vegetable, they are an ideal choice for a beginning gardener. They grow quickly as long as they receive warmth from the sun and enough water.
Are you planning to grow cucumbers but you don’t know the basics? Here are tips on how you can successfully grow cucumbers in your garden.
Before you start, it is important to choose the variety of cucumber you want to grow. There are two types of cucumbers you can choose from: Slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. Each of these types has several varieties under its wing.
The slicing types usually grow up to 6 to 8 inches in length while the pickling ones are shorter and reach the size of 3 to 4 inches once they are fully matured.
Once you know which variety you want to grow, then figure out which ones do well in your garden zone and looks like you’d like it. There are some “normal” cucumbers such as straight 8’s, that are similar to what you’d find a grocery store. There are also more unusual varieties such as the Gagon Cucumber.
If you want to harvest the crops as fast as you can, you should start your seedlings indoors a month before the last frost.
Cucumber seeds, when started indoors, can sprout as long as you provide them with good air circulation and soil moisture.
After the last frost, you can move the plants outdoors or start transferring them into pots and containers.
Where To Plant
Cucumbers love growing in warm and humid weather. They like loose and organic soil with plenty of sunlight and a ph of 6.0 – 6.8, although they can tolerate up to 7.6.
When you are planting cucumbers outdoors, choose a spot in your backyard where there is fertile soil with proper drainage. A good soil contains a lot of organic matter like compost or manure.
Before you start planting, add compost to the soil. You can also apply organic fertilizer or manure to give the plants more nutrients they will need to grow. When preparing the plot, make sure to remove any garden debris, sticks, and rocks as well.
Cucumbers grow best when directly sown in the ground.
If you don’t want to jump start your crops or you simply want to avoid the risk of transplant shock, you can begin sowing your seeds outdoors a few weeks after the last frost.
Cucumbers can be planted in rows or hills about 1 inch deep and should be thinned as needed. These vegetables are vine crops and may require a bit more space.
They do also come in a bush variety that you may choose if you don’t have enough room for a vining variety. Bush cucumbers are great for a small garden or container garden.
If you have a larger garden, you can plant cucumbers in rows. However, if you have limited space, you can train the cucumbers to climb on fences or a trellis.
Placing fences or trellises for the cucumbers to climb can reduce space and also lift the fruit off the soil, making them easier to harvest. Lifting the vines also promotes better airflow and can prevent diseases like bacterial wilt or powdery mildew.
You can use a tomato cage or build a trellis. There are also ready-made trellises available online made from plastic or wood.
Avoid Bitter Crops
If the crops taste bitter, it means that the plant is experiencing heat stress or uneven watering due to overwatering or drought.
To avoid bitter crops, cut out the sections of the plants that are producing bitter fruits. You can also move the plant to an area in the garden with a more even temperature or water your plants more evenly and more regularly.
Provide More Space
Space is important for growing cucumbers.
Crowding the plants can encourage diseases. Plus, your crops will produce less fruit.
Since these vegetables have vines that sprawl all over the place, provide ample space between each plant.
Water Them Regularly
Water is important for any cucumber.
Make sure to water the cucumbers deeply at least once a week. In the case of very hot or dry climates, consider watering them twice a week.
Growing your cucumbers vertically not only helps you save on space, it also makes harvesting easier.
Grow your cucumbers up a fence or trellis. You can use fancy-twine wrapped ones or use a tee-pee made from bamboo poles.
One of the main problems that cucumber gardeners have are cucumber beetles.
These pests are little yellow striped beetles that spread bacterial wilt.
To prevent these pests from wreaking havoc with your cucumbers, mulch around the plants. Apply natural mulch like newspaper, twine, or leaves around the plants.
Squash bugs will also attack cucumbers as they are from the same family as squash.
Also, be on the lookout for aphids that will literally suck the life out of your plant. Slugs will eat the fruit as it ripens so keep it up off the ground and keep your eyes open for those and if you need, try some natural ways to get rid of slugs.
You can use a neem oil mixture or a soap and water mixture to combat these pests and save your plants.
Keeping the cucumbers happy and well taken care of will ensure you have a harvest of great tasting cucumbers without any traces of bitterness. Using these tips for growing cucumbers will ensure you have a healthy harvest of delicious fruit.