A glass of refreshing cucumber water is just what you need in the sweltering heat of summer. Imagine the cucumber is plucked straight from your garden, completely organic and free of commercial pesticides! Sounds enticing, right?
Growing these cool, crunchy salad kings at home can make your summer dreams come true. Cucumbers have their share of common diseases but are pretty straightforward to grow from seeds. Consume them throughout the warmer months and pickle the rest for use throughout the year. If you’re interested, here’s your guide to growing cucumbers from seeds!
Here is what you will need to grow cucumbers from seeds.
- Cucumber seeds
- Watering can
- Gardening tools
- Black plastic cover (optional)
Step 1 – Choose the Variety
While there are numerous cucumber varieties to choose from, they are widely classified into two types: vining and bush.
As the name suggests, the vining varieties grow tall, reaching about 12 feet. They also require more space and a supporting structure to keep them upright. However, with proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest. Grow them in the ground or in raised beds for best results.
The bush varieties are more compact, growing only 2 to 3 feet tall. Plant these if you lack the space or want to grow cucumbers in pots.
You can also opt for a disease-resistant variety like ‘Carmen.’ Outdoor vining varieties include ‘Picolino’ and ‘Mini Munch.’ If you’re searching for bush varieties try growing ‘Burpless Tasty Green,’ ‘Bush Crop,’ or ‘Spacemaster’ cucumbers.
Step 2 – Determine the Location
Cucumbers grow best in warmth under full sun with at least six hours of daily sunlight. However, they appreciate some shade in areas where the summer is exceptionally hot during the peak hours. Also, choose a spot sheltered from the wind.
Step 3 – Prepare the Ground
Cucumbers need rich, fertile soil to grow and bear fruits. So, rake about 6 to 8 inches of soil and mix in about 2 inches of well-rotted manure in your selected spot. Maintain the soil pH between 6.5 to 7 and ensure it is well-draining and moist.
You can also add compost, aged manure, or peat to improve the aeration of heavy, dense, soil. If you live in a northern area, opt for light, sandy soil that warms rapidly in spring to prepare for sowing. Add organic matter to improve the quality of a plot with clay soil.
The ideal soil temperature for planting and germinating seeds is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a cooler climate, cover the area with black plastic to keep temperature optimal.
Pro Tip: You can soak cucumber seeds for about 12 hours before planting for higher yields and faster germination.
Step 4 – Sow the Seeds
Sow the seeds directly outside between late May and early June, about 2 weeks after the threat of frost has passed. Check the last frost date in your region to determine the best time to plant the seeds.
Sow your seeds at a depth of 1 inch and space them a few inches apart. Arrange the rows at 3 to 5 feet intervals (depending on the variety) to give your plant ample room to grow. You can also plant cucumber on small 12-inch hills or mounds. Space the mounds about 6 feet apart and plant six to eight seeds per mound about 1 inch deep.
It can take about four to 10 days for the seeds to germinate. Once seedlings emerge, thin them to three to four plants per mound.
Step 5 – Protect the Plant
Mulching is an excellent way to help the soil retain moisture and keep pests like aphids, cucumber beetles, and slugs away. It can also function as a barrier between the fruits on bush varieties and the moist soil, protecting them from disease. Mulch around the plant with a 1-inch thick layer of shredded leaves, straw, or other pesticide-free mulch.
Cover the newly planted seeds with fleece or cloche to keep the soil warm in cooler climates. You can also place netting or row covers to protect your seeds from pests that can dig out the seeds.
If you are growing vining varieties, place a trellis around the plant to help the vines climb and protect the fruit from coming in contact with the ground.
Step 6 – Look After the Plant
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when growing cucumbers is not watering the plant enough. Cucumbers are incredibly thirsty plants that need frequent watering as soon as seedlings appear.
Whether you install a drip irrigation system, use a soaker hose or employ watering cans, make sure to direct the water at the base of the plant and keep it away from the leaves. Water in the morning to allow the leaves to dry out any water droplets that land on them. If the leaves are wet overnight, it can lead to leaf disease.
They need about 1 inch of weekly watering, through rainfall or manually. You may have to water more during weeks with soaring temperatures.
Since you prepped the soil before sowing, lightly fertilize the sides of the stem with compost or aged manure. Otherwise, feed the plant with a 5-10-10 liquid fertilizer a week after flowers appear. Continue fertilizing every three weeks until harvest time.
Cultivate Crunchy Cucumbers
Whether you like to munch them raw, add them to your salads, or pickle them, you must grow cucumbers! They have an abundant yield, and if you stagger the sowing, you will have a fresh supply throughout the season.
So, what are you waiting for? Start gathering the supplies and share below in the comments how your efforts fared!