Planting Cucumbers - A How-To Guide

planting cucumbers

The process of planting cucumbers usually begins with seeds. Transplants are not easily used because cucumber seedlings don't do well if their roots are disturbed.

If you live in a very cold climate and have to start your seeds indoors, we suggest planting them in some sort of biodegradable pot.  This way, you don't have to disturb the roots of the seedlings at all when you transplant them - you can just plant the whole pot in the garden and it will break down over time.  One way to get biodegradable pots is to make your own out of newspaper, using this tool.

Cucumber Seedling

Cucumbers can be planted 2 weeks after the last expected frost in your area. The seeds generally will not germinate until the soil temperatures reach about 60 degrees F.  However, seeds will germinate much better if soil temps are closer to 70 degrees F.  Cucumbers are usually ready to harvest 50-70 days after planting, depending on the variety.

Cucumbers are available in vining varieties and bush varieties. The vining varieties spread out along the ground or grow up a support structure, like a fence or trellis. The bush varieties are smaller, compact plants that require less space. Vining varieties typically produce more fruit over a longer period of time. Bush varieties typically produce a few less cucumbers.

Bush varieties of cucumbers can be spaced 2 feet apart. Vining varieties should be spaced 4 feet apart.  However, if you're going to grow your cucumbers vertically, then the vining varieties can be spaced 2 feet apart.  If you are planting cucumbers in containers or have limited garden space, look for bush varieties, unless you have a support structure in place for a vining variety to climb on.

Click here for more information about different cucumber varieties

Steps for Planting Cucumbers

Cucumbers Growing In Mounds

If you are planting cucumbers in a traditional vegetable garden, begin by creating small mounds or hills. These hills should be about 1 foot across and 3-4 inches high. Use your finger or the handle of a shovel or trowel and create holes 1 inch deep. Create 2-3 holes per hill and space them a few inches apart. Drop a seed into each hole and cover with a loose layer of soil. Once you have planted the seeds, water them in well.

The mounds serve 2 purposes - they ensure the soil is loose and airy which encourages root development, and they guaranteed that the root systems won't sit for extended periods of time in soggy soil.

In our own garden, we typically till the soil really well about a week before be plant our cucumber seeds.  We then scatter a balanced granular fertilizer over the area at a rate of 1 pint per 100 square feet of garden space.  We also scatter pulverized lime as our soil is a bit acidic and lacks calcium.  We then till again to work these additives into the soil.  After that, we water the area pretty good, just so the fertilizer starts to break down into the soil.  About a week later, we till one last time, build our mounds and go about planting cucumbers.

If you want to plant cucumbers vertically, you'll need some sort of support structure. You can use a fence, trellis, or a heavy duty tomato cage. You can also construct your own support structure using 4-5 feet of heavy duty wire or wood. The structure needs to be able to support 10-15 pounds, as a couple of mature cucumber plants may have several large cucumbers on the vine at one time. Some studies suggest that cucumber plants produce better if they are grown vertically. This may be attributed to the better air circulation around around the plants themselves.  In our own garden, we've noticed that we have less problems with plant diseases and fungal infections if we grow our cucumbers vertically.  In addition, the cucumbers are much easier to pick because we don't have to bend over nearly as far.

Hanging Cucumber

If you are planning to grow cucumbers vertically, place a support structure in the center of the hill and plant 2-3 seeds around the support structure. Again, plant the seeds an inch deep and water them in well.

If you are planting cucumbers in a container, there is no need to create mounds. Choose a container that is a least 24 inches across and 18 inches deep. The container should have adequate drainage holes. Again, plant 2-3 seeds in each container. Plant them an inch deep and water them in well. 

Now that your cucumbers are planted, it's time to think about watering, fertilizing and harvesting them.

Mature Cucumber Plant

Click here to learn about fertilizing and watering cucumbers

Click here for help with cucumber plant problems

Click here for information about harvesting cucumbers

Click here for some of our favorite cucumber recipes

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