Last year was by far the best year for cucumbers that I have ever had. With a good mix of care and of course, excellent weather, the cucumbers I started from seed, blossomed and produced unlike any season before. Here is what I did last year. Hopefully you will have great success as I did.
I love to start all of my vegetable garden plants from seed as opposed to picking up plants at a local garden nursery, garden center or home center. I enjoy the challenge of it as well as knowing that I was involved in the plant’s growing process, literally, from beginning to end. There is a sense of self accomplishment there.
Cucumbers are no different. I like to start my seeds indoors about 3 to 4 weeks from the final frost date in my area. I also like to use a propagation dome indoors for all my seeds to create that greenhouse atmosphere for them. This keeps a constant temperature around my seeds which aids in the germination process.
There are a number of ways and items to use to start your seeds. For me, I like to use left over yogurt, cottage cheese and k-cups as my seed starting pots. For my soil I try to use the soil from garden, since that is where they will end up anyway, however if you are unable to do that, there are plenty of seed starting soils out there which are excellent as well and available at any home or garden center for a few bucks.
When planting your seeds, one half to one inch deep is all you will need to go. Any deeper and they might not be able to produce enough energy to push through the soil.
Under optimal conditions expect your cucumber seeds to germinate in 3 to 4 days, however don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit longer. Also, if you are using the smaller k-cups like I do, or seed starting pods, you will want to transfer them to larger pots once they get about 2 inches tall. For pods, you will start to see their roots grow through the outer netting. Once you do, get them in a pot.
Just like you would with any other vegetable plant, you will want to acclimate them (harden off) to the outdoor environment slowly. Once temperatures begin to warm up, take your plants outdoors during the day and bring them back in when the sun sets.
Once the outdoor temperatures are ready for growing (above 70 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect) transfer them to their final growing spot, where they will receive full sun. As a side note, if you are growing indeterminants such as straight eights, put up a trellis to support the growing vine. You will get straighter cucumbers that way and they are easier to harvest.
Once planted, a moderate watering is all you will need until they begin to flower. Once they flower, start a heavy watering regimen until you begin to harvest, then return back to moderate.
Some final thoughts and observations. The larger you let your cucumbers grow the more seedy they will be. Try to pick them when they are 10 to 12 twelve inches, shorter if you want more of a crispier and crunchier cucumber. Avoid other vegetables in the cucumber family when rotating and try not to plant near potatoes as they make for a bad companion to cucumbers.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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