Cucumbers – Planting, Growing, & Harvesting Guide

This is a vegetable that is easy-to-care-for and will quickly grow as long as they receive consistent warmth and watering. 

Read on to see how you can plant your own cucumber patch and have fresh cucumbers all summer long.

Cucumbers – Planting, Growing, & Harvesting Guide

1. Cucumber Facts

Cucumbers are a very versatile vegetable.  You can just eat them with or without slicing them, put them in salads or on sandwiches, or even pickle them.  It might seem cool to see just how large you can let one grow but if they get too large, they will start to taste bitter.  There are two types of cucumbers that you can plant.

  • Bush:  These are the ones that you want to grow if you have a small garden or growing cucumbers in containers.  They are grown directly on top of the soil.
  • Vining:  These cucumbers are grown on vines that are shaded by large leaves and the growth of this type is fast.  The crop yield is abundant and they grow best if trained up a fence or trellis.  They will also be cleaner than the bush cucumber and are easier to pick.

2. Planting

With cucumbers, if you make successive plantings every two weeks in the already-warm soil you should have more cucumbers in about six weeks.  Most will start the seedlings inside and then two weeks after the last frost date, and no sooner, they can be transplanted outside.  They are very susceptible to cold and frost damage. When planting your cucumbers select a site with full sun because they like a lot of light and warmth.  

Soil:  The soil needs to be fertile so mix with the soil aged manure or compost before you plant the cucumber seeds two inches deep and work it into the soil until you have it six to eight inches deep.  You do not want to put your seeds into soggy and compacted soil.  You want the soil to feel well-drained and moist.  The pH should be 6.5 -7.0, which means that the soil should be slightly acidic or neutral.  

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Cucumbers in a yard

How:  Plant the seed about an inch deep and two to three feet apart in a row.  Check the seed packet for exact planting details because each variety is different. If you are going to train them on a trellis, you need to space them a foot apart.  They can also be planted in mounds that contain two to three seeds in each one and spaced one to two feet apart.  Once the plants have reached about four inches you should thin them to one plant per mound.  After you have planted the seeds you need to mulch around the area with some type of organic material like straw or chopped leaves.  This will help to keep the pests back.  It will also keep the bush cucumbers from lying on the ground so you can avoid disease.

If you want the vine type to climb, you can use a trellis.  This will help to protect the cucumbers from damage from lying on the ground.  Cover the seeds with a berry basket or some type of netting to keep pests from digging out the seeds.

3. Growing

The main requirement for growing cucumbers is consistent watering; they need at least an inch of water each week unless it is very hot.  Put your finger in the soil and if it feels dry past your first joint, it is time to water. 

You can get bitter fruit if you have inconsistent watering.  You should water in the morning or early afternoon.  When you water, try to avoid the leave so you do not encourage leaf diseases that can ruin your cucumber plant.  Use drip irrigation or soaker hose to water your cucumbers.  You can use mulch to hold in the soil moisture.

When you first see the seedling emerge, you will need to water frequently; up to a gallon a week after the cucumber forms.  When they reach four inches you will need to thin out the plants so they are a foot and a half apart.  To attract bees and set more cucumbers, spray the vines with sugar water.

Fertilizer:  You should use a liquid fertilizer that is low nitrogen and high potassium and phosphorus formula.  Apply the fertilizer when you plant the seed and then a week after they bloom and then every three weeks afterward.  You want to put it directly to the soil around the plant.  

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4. Harvesting

As stated, do not let them get too large or they will taste bitter.  When it is peak harvesting time, you should be picking cucumbers every couple of days because they grow quickly.  

When:  Slicing cucumbers when they are six to eight inches long.  Pick dill cucumbers at four to eight inches and pickling cucumbers at two inches.  The large burpless ones up to 10 inches and some types will be a bit longer.

You want to make sure that you pick your cucumbers before the seeds become hard.  You should eat them when they are immature.  You do not want to let them get yellow but it needs to be uniformly green, crisp, and firm.  Harvest them by using clippers or a knife to cut the stem just above the vegetable.  Pulling on the cucumber can damage the vine so always clip it off.  

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As mentioned, cucumbers grow fast and if you do not keep them picked, the plant will stop producing as it matures.  Also, the cucumbers left on the vine too long will get tough skins that are not edible.  After you harvest them store them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to help retain their moisture.  The reason is that cucumbers are more than 90% water.  When you store them correctly in the fridge, they can last from 7-10 days.  Cucumbers are not always for eating.  You can puree them in the blender and use it for a facial.  If you plant them right you will have cucumbers all summer long and enough left over to share with friends, neighbors, and family.

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