Growing Cucumbers From Seed To Harvest
Cucumber plants, also known as Cucumis sativus, make a great addition to any garden. They are even beginner-friendly, making them a great vegetable to grow.
If you’re new to gardening, you may not have known that there are two kinds of cucumbers: bush varieties and vine cucumbers. The difference between the two is that the bush cucumber varieties are smaller and more compact. but that doesn’t affect their fruit production, while vining cucumbers grow on vines.
You also don’t need to use a trellis for the bush cucumbers. Instead, they grow best in containers and beds. On the other hand, the vine varieties take up more space unless you use a trellis, then your cucumbers will take up a lot of space sprawling on the ground.
Growing vining cucumbers on a trellis means they take up very little space in your garden. Making both of them perfect for small gardens, you need to remember that vine cucumbers produce more cucumbers than bush varieties.
Speaking of the different kinds of cucumbers, there are many different types of cucumbers. As a matter of fact, there are a many different kinds of cucumbers, both vine and bush. These include:
- Lemon cucumber – Vining
- Ridge cucumbers – Vining
- Bush cucumbers – Bush
- Ashley – Vining & Bush
- Burpless #26 – Vining
- Bush Champion – Bush
- Dasher II – Vining
- Diva – Vining
- Early Pride – Vining
- Salad – Bush
- Straight Eight – Bush
- Bushmaster – Bush
Besides being easy to grow and an excellent plant for small spaces, this crop is so beneficial in your garden because it has all the fresh cucumbers you could want. Now you can make pickles, dips, add to salads, and sandwiches at a lower price. Isn’t gardening great?
To get started planting follow our guide All About Growing Cucumbers from seed to harvest!
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Preparing The Seeds
To get a head start on planting your cucumbers try germinating your own seeds early instead of purchasing seedlings. The best part is it only takes a few weeks for the seeds from the seed packet to grow. Then just keep in mind that you need to wait plant the cucumber seedlings after your last frost date. Be sure to plan accordingly, so you have plenty of time to grow them. But what is the process of germinating your seeds?
It’s actually quite simple: you want to fill a seed tray with a seed starting soil mix, then add a bit of water to get the soil moist. Then you’ll want to put your seed tray into a drip tray. Plant the seeds about one inch deep, adding 1-2 seeds in each cell. cover the seeds and make sure to keep the soil moist until they emerge.
While waiting for the seeds to emerge they don’t need any light, however once they break through the soil in about 3-10 days, make sure you give them at least 6-8 hours a day, and make sure they have a “nighttime”, too. During this process, just make sure to keep the soil moist – but not wet.
You must ensure the soil temperature is warm enough for the seeds to germinate, you may want to purchase a heat mat. I have used these –> heat mats for years and they work great. Lastly, if you don’t have a south facing window or enough light be sure to place your seed tray under grow lights.
After seeds are germinated and are ready to be transplanted in about 3 weeks or once you see 1-2 sets of true leaves on your plants, you’ll need to harden off your seedlings before planting them outside.
When the seeds germinate, they will have their first set of leaves – these are NOT their true leaves. The leaves that come after those are the true leaves of the plant and what you’ll look for prior to hardening off and planting outside.
Hardening off your seedlings is important because gradually setting them outside over a 7-10 day period let’s them get accustomed to the sun and wind and things they’ll encounter once transplanted.
You can start by taking them out for 1/2 an hour in a shady spot and then each day you’ll increase the time and sun and exposure to wind. By day 7 – 10 you can leave them out all day and night and they do well. Another way is to look for a few days that will be overcast in a row and set them out and leave them for those few days and they will be ready for transplanting.
Getting The Soil Right
Before planting, you must prepare the soil with nutrients the cucumbers will need. Cucumbers can grow in many different kinds of good soil, but they thrive best in loose and well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. To achieve the fertile soil you’re looking for you’ll need to fill the garden soil with organic matter such as compost made of food scraps, plant debris, coffee grounds, and eggshells. It would also be helpful to add fertilizer.
When looking for the perfect fertilizer, you need to check for fertilizer with moderate nitrogen, high potassium, and high phosphorus. Next, you need mulch. The best mulch you can use is shredded leaves, but you can also use black plastic mulch. This will help keep the soil moisture.
Cucumbers need about an inch of water a week. This means you may have to water about 2 to 3 times a week, but during warm weather, you may need to water more. You can get a watering gauge to measure more accurately how much water your plants will need.
But be sure to avoid overwatering. The last thing you want is to drown your plant. To prevent this, you need good drainage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to add drainage holes to any pot and container you use. This is also a helpful tip to avoid root rot.
How Much Sunlight
Sunlight is one of the most important factors to consider when planting. Every plant is different. Cucumbers love warmer weather and require lots of full sun, 6 to 8 hours, to be exact. So before you do any planting, determine where in your garden your cucumbers can get direct sunlight. Once you find the perfect sunny spot, you can begin to plant.
If you’re growing your cucumbers in a raised container or pot, don’t forget to add drainage holes. If planting in large containers, you need to space the crops 36 to 60 inches apart from each other, this allows them not to get cramped and let air circulation come through. But if you’re using a trellis, you only have to space plants 12 inches or 1 foot apart.
Another thing to remember is if you’re planting next to other plants, be sure they will not harm your cucumbers or vice versa. Make sure the cucumbers won’t hurt the other plants. One type of plant you want planted near your cucumbers are flowers that attract beneficial insects.
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How To Prevent Pests And Treat Diseases
Now that you know how to grow cucumbers in your garden, you need to know how to protect your mature cucumbers from pests and diseases that want to wreak havoc on them. No one want’s their crops overrun with pesky bugs and funguses.
You especially don’t want any pests in your garden since they tend to travel to other plants. Like any other plant, cucumbers are prone to diseases and pests. These include:
- Cucumber beetles
- Root-Knot Nematodes
- Squash bugs
To prevent these pests from attacking your plants, you can use row covers to shield your healthy plants. You can also use sticky traps to catch them. If you still end up with pests on your crops, don’t worry. You can easily make an insecticidal soap to spray on your plants that will get rid of them. For disease, baking soda spray is known to treat mildew on old or young plants but be sure to spray every infected area.
Harvesting Your Cukes
Because cucumbers come in so many different shapes, sizes, and varieties make sure you read the seed packet to learn the best time to harvest your cucumbers. As with most fruits and vegetables harvesting them on the slightly younger size yields a better flavor.
There you have it, now you know All About Growing Cucumbers in your garden! What other vegetables did you want to learn about?
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