Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Grow Cucumbers

I love growing my own cucumbers.  Cucumbers are a perfect addition to any salad, or simply eaten all by themselves.  My favorite cucumber dish actually comes from my dad, and I must admit, I have no idea where he got it or where the “recipe” is derived from.  You simply slice up a cucumber, and mix in some vinegar and mayo.   There really is no recipe for it, as I mix the the vinegar and mayo together in portions until it gets to a flavor that I like.  But enough about eating cucumbers, lets talk about how you can grow cucumbers.

Cucumbers can be grown as bush or indeterminates (vining).  Bush cucumber varieties are nice because they are “controllable”, grow well in small raised beds or containers, and are very good producers.    Indeterminate cucumber varieties are those that grow on a vine.  You can still “control” where these cucumber varieties grow with the use of a trellis or some other structure that the cucumber vines’ tendrils can grab on to, and they are prolific producers.  I grew straight 8’s one year and produced nearly 250 pounds of cucumbers from about a half dozen plants.  Your results may vary of course.

I grow my cucumbers directly from cucumber seeds.  I don’t feel that getting established plants are necessary as my growing season is plenty long for me and cucumbers are very easy to grow from seeds.  I like to start my cucumber seeds indoors about 2 weeks prior to the final frost in my area.  Once the fear of frost has subsided, I will move my cucumber plants to their final growing place in my garden that receives a full day’s worth of sun and where I have conditioned my soil with plenty of vermicompost that I harvest from my worm tower.

I like to grow indeterminate cucumbers and use a homemade trellis.  This allows me to grow far more cucumbers in less space as I grow them vertically where my space is literally, “sky is the limit.”

Cucumbers are heavy feeders, so even though I have conditioned my soil with quality compost, I still need to constantly feed them throughout the season.  Use a good organic fertilizer such as manure tea or fish emulsion every two weeks for best results.

When planting your cucumbers, if you are growing indeterminates up a trellis, space out your plants every 12 to 16 inches.  If you are not using a trellis, you will need a good 3 feet.  Then again if you are not using a trellis, go with the bush varieties.  You can save on space that way as they get by on as little as 12 inches of space.  That would be 1 square per plant if you are a square foot gardener.

Give your cucumber plants a nice steady and even dose of water throughout the season, and as mentioned before, cucumbers will produce best in a full day’s worth of sun.

Cucumbers are ready to harvest when they are at a size that meet the needs for which they are being produced.  For example, if you are going to following a gherkin pickle recipe, you will want to harvest your cucumbers when they are very small.  Most of the time you will pick your cucumbers when they are 10 to 12 inches in length.  Any larger than that and they will be too “seedy”.  Of course if you are looking to save the seeds to grow the same variety the following season, you will want to simply let the cucumber continue to grow to produce the seeds.

As a side note, avoid rotating with other cucumber family members.

14 comments:

  1. Growing cucumbers isn't hard. The tough part is pest control. Please share organic suggestions.

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  2. Please share some organic pest control ideas. Always have problems with worm borers.

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  3. That is a good idea for a future article ... I will have to put together a list of good organic pest control ideas

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  4. Also, of you could include ways to avoid disease, i.e.. mold and mildew, that'd be awesome! Thanks for the info.

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  5. May also want to mention cukes are a great way to avoid coons, they don't like the feel of the fuzzy leaves on their feet. We use them as border plantings, from leftover seed from the year before.

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  6. I 'll have to do some research on the raccoon suggesting as I do not get them here, so I will have to refer to an expert on that topic.

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  7. The masked bandits hate squash as well; those prickly vines and fuzzy leaves keep them away very well.

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  8. great growing tips and ideas for future articles...i'd never heard that squash and cukes were raccoon repellents....fascinating, thanks!

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  9. Every year, I get about 3 decent cucumbers before they start forming into (fine tasting) fat little balls with a tiny flower end. They look like little heads with a hook nose. What the heck am I doing!?

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  10. when can I plant the seeds I live in Florida and now it is cold?

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  11. Maria: check with your zone information which can be found at: http://www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/

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  12. I am certain I am not a racoon now, if there had ever been any doubts. LOL I love cucumbers and (especially yellow) squash. We have squirrel issues here.

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  13. Awesome post .i hope everybody will like your post

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