Cucumbers are plants with numerous uses. Knowing how to grow cucumbers means getting constant ingredients for salads, side dishes, smoothies, juices, pickles, and homemade beauty products. Cucumbers are also easy to plant and grow, perfect for beginner garden owners. If you want to grow your own cucumber plant, this simple guide will help you.
Table of Contents
1. Knowing the Types of Cucumbers
There are several types of cucumbers based on their growing methods, uses, and varieties. Here are simple explanations to start your search:
- Based on growing methods
Cucumbers consist of vining and bush varieties. The vining ones are the most common, and they also provide more abundant harvests than the bush types. However, the bush varieties are easier to plant in containers or small gardens, perfect if you only need small amounts.
- Based on uses
Cucumbers consist of slicing and pickling varieties. The slicing types are larger with thicker skins. The pickling varieties are smaller and with thinner skins.
- Based on popular varieties
English cucumbers are among the most popular slicing varieties, with mild flavors and thin skins. Kirby cucumbers are popular for pickles, with small seeds and thin, almost crispy skins. American and Persian cucumbers are popular for cooking, and you can put them in stir-fry dishes. Lemon cucumbers are small, slightly round, and have a mild taste.
All these varieties are common for home gardeners. Understand your needs before choosing the ones suitable for your home garden.
2. How to Grow Cucumbers from Seeds
Planting cucumber seeds directly in a garden is the easiest way to grow these vegetables. You can choose the bush varieties for more practical growing and harvesting. Here are the steps to follow:
- Find the best season to plant
Cucumbers love warm season with a lot of direct sunlight. If you live in a four-season country, you can start planting the seeds around four weeks after the last winter frost melts.
- Prepare the soil
Find a place that receives direct sunlight in your garden. Prepare the soil by raking it and adding aged manure or compost.
- Plant the seeds properly
Dig holes that are around ½ inch deep, with a one-inch distance between each hole. Drop the seed and cover it gently. Press the top soil, but don’t make it too compact.
- Water the seeds
Water the seeds after you plant them. Do it regularly (especially if the weather is hot). Cucumber seeds love regular watering, so never let the soil goes cracked and dry.
If everything goes well, you will start seeing seedlings growing from the soil. From there, it is only about time and regular watering until you see cucumbers.
3. Planting Cucumbers Vertically
Planting cucumbers vertically is the best option if you want “cleaner” harvest or have problems with space. The support should be around five to six feet, and you can use a trellis, wire mesh fence, or garden netting. The lower part of this support should be at least six inches from the ground.
Here are the steps to grow cucumbers with this method:
- Prepare the soil
After placing your supports in well-lit spots in the garden, till the soil while mixing compost or manure. The tilling should be about eight inches deep, and the compost or manure is one inch deep. Create garden mound around the support, with an extra two to three inches above the surrounding soil.
- Plant the seeds
Create small holes with ½ inch depth and 12 inches distance between each hole. Don’t forget to mulch the soil in the holes, once during seed planting and once after the seedlings grow.
- “Guide” the vines
Make sure the growing vines attach themselves on the support by twining them around it. You may need to tie the growing vines on the support, but don’t make the binding too tight. Leave one inch of a gap to accommodate growth.
Don’t forget to prepare an irrigation system or water them regularly. To get the best harvests, don’t let the cucumber plants wilt even once.
4. Growing Cucumbers Indoor
Growing cucumbers indoor is almost the same as the other two methods. You can use just one pot (if you only need a few cucumbers) or multiple pots in one row. However, there are several things to remember:
- Use proper pot soil
Garden soil is different from container soil. You cannot use garden soil in a pot, because it can clump or cause bacterial disease. Use proper container soil that will not clump. Find the one that has fertilizer in it or mix slow-release fertilizer when preparing the soil.
- Prepare support
If your cucumbers grow in vines, you still need to prepare supports. Use a stick or place your pots near window railings or other available support systems.
- Install gardening lamp
Cucumbers love warm, direct sunlight, so if you plant them indoors, you must place them on spots where the sunlight can hit them. If there are no such spots, you must install a gardening lamp to give them the proper amount of light.
Whatever method you use, make sure to fertilize and water the cucumbers regularly.
5. Caring and Harvesting the Cucumbers
Cucumbers need constant watering, and you must water them at the soil level to avoid mildew. To know the best time for watering, stick your index finger through the soil. If it is dry past the first joint, it means you need to water the cucumbers immediately. Morning to early afternoon is the best time to water them.
You must also fertilize the cucumbers every two to three weeks. Use liquid fertilizer recommended for cucumbers and similar vegetable plants (you can ask your local gardening store staff). Cover the seeds and seedlings with nets to prevent pests.
Finally, when harvesting cucumbers, make sure to do it quickly before they get too large. This is to prevent the cucumbers from developing natural bitterness. You can harvest slicing cucumbers when they are six to eight inches long, and pickled cucumbers when they are two inches long.
Knowing how to grow cucumbers is great to provide your kitchen with fresh ingredients. Try these steps at your home and see how fast these popular vegetables grow in your garden or planters.