How to Grow a Cucumber Garden

Whether you peel them, pickle them or press them onto your eyes, cucumbers can be a fantastic vegetable to grow yourself. Here are some home gardening secrets to help you on your way.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cool, Calm and Crisp

Growing cucumbers can be a wonderfully rewarding adventure. No veggie tastes fresher than a cucumber cut right off the vine. The more quickly you harvest your ripened cukes, the more that will grow in their place during the season. 

Head Start

Cucumbers are very sensitive to cold and should be planted when soil temps reach about 60 degrees in a spot that receives full sunlight. If you’re worried the weather hasn’t warmed up enough yet, you can start them inside using a heating pad and/or a sunny windowsill.

Creating Cucumbers

Because cucumber plants can be a “bush” or “vine” variety, the plant spacing needs will vary. Bush types have been bred to take up only 2 to 3 feet, with extremely short vines, while vining cukes can run between 6’ – 15’.

Space Cadets

Cucumber seedlings should be planted a minimum of 12” apart if trained up a trellis, and three feet apart if they’ll be growing without a support. Cucumber seeds need to be planted one inch deep and lightly covered with soil, in a well-drained part of your garden. 

You've Got Options

Depending on your space, they can be left to sprawl across the ground, or trained up a trellis for best air circulation.  

Watering Worries

Prune away the lower leaves of your cucumber plants in order to avoid airborne disease. Cucumbers need between 1 to 2 inches of water per week, delivered at the root of the plant. Causing water stress while the plants are flowering can result in bitter tasting fruits. In hot weather, make sure you adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Moving On Up

Cucumber plants shoot out tiny thin tendrils, which wrap around other plants—and each other. This is how they climb up trellis and netting. Looking for an excellent companion plant? Cucumbers play well with beans, corn, radishes and pollinator plants like nasturtiums.

Got Milk?

Powdery mildew fungus is a popular enemy when it comes to gardening. To ward off this pesky problem, spray a mixture of one part milk and one part water on your plants about every 10 days or so.

Beautiful Blossoms

Each female flower that appears on your cucumber plant has the potential to become a cucumber. Male flowers, as seen here, tend to appear first, and often in clusters. 

Let's Talk About Sex

Both male and female must be present in order to cross-pollinate, so don’t be surprised if it takes a bit before you begin to see female flowers on your plant. You’ll recognize them as female when you see the tiny, slim fruit that forms behind them.

Busy Bees

In order to bear cucumbers, the flowers must then be pollenated by industrious and irreplaceable bees. Consider planting bee-friendly flowers, such as nasturtiums or marigolds, near your cucumber plants in order to keep those bees coming around. 

Countless Cukes

In 2010, over 57 million cucumbers were produced worldwide. There are three main categories: slicing, pickling and burpless. Within each group, the varieties seem endless. 

Lemon Cucumbers

These vining sweeties are as easy to grow as the more common types of cucumbers. They’re never bitter and make a flavorful and colorful addition many recipes. Harvest just as they begin to turn yellow to avoid them having too many seeds. Should mature in around 65 days.

Pick Your Pickle

Although pickling cucumbers tend to make the crispiest pickles, you can actually pickle any variety. Whether you enjoy your cucumbers right from the garden or preserved with tangy seasonings, it’s safe to say: homegrown is best.