Cucumbers are a refreshing vegetable, whether you add them to a garden salad or grill them on the BBQ and add them to your favorite summer meals.
Cultivating cucumbers in your vegetable garden is also a rewarding and exciting experience. But if you’ve ever grown veggies in your garden, you know it can be difficult to determine when they are ready to harvest, not to mention how you should harvest them.
Fortunately, this guide has compiled all the best tips and tricks for determining when your cucumbers are ready for harvest, the tools you’ll need, how to harvest the veggies, and even how to extend the growing season so you can get the most of your crops.
When to Harvest Cucumbers
While there are nearly 100 varieties of cucumbers, there are three main types: slicing, pickling, and seedless. Pickling cucumbers are shorter and wider, seedless cucumbers are longer and thinner, and slicing cucumbers lie somewhere in between. Despite the names, each type is ideal for pickling or eating fresh.
The variety of cucumber will determine the length it should be and there for when it’s ripe enough to harvest, so check the tag or seed packet. Pickling cucumbers should grow to about two to four inches long, slicing cucumbers will be six to nine inches long, and a seedless cucumber is typically ripe at 14 inches.
As a good rule of thumb, remember that many cucumbers are ready for harvest around 50 to 70 days after germination. Since you should plant them in the early spring, they will likely be ready for picking throughout the warm days of summer.
If you’re not sure if they’re ready, it’s best to pick cucumbers when they’re a bit smaller than expected. They tend to become mushy and bitter if they are too big. And, if your plant isn’t growing properly, check for cucumber beetles and yellowing leaves.
Tools You’ll Need
To properly harvest the delicious cukes growing in your garden, there are a few tools you’ll need. Thankfully, they are items many gardeners already have in their tool shed. Check out the essentials below!
- Gardening gloves
- Sterilized pruning shears
- Collection container
How to Harvest Cucumbers
Now that you’ve compiled your tools and know when to pick your cucumbers, it’s time to harvest. Fortunately, the process is incredibly simple. But, before you dive in and begin pulling the cucumbers from the stems, it’s important to note that you should not twist or pull the fruit to harvest it. It can uproot and damage the entire plant.
Instead, use sterilized pruning shears, holding the fruit in one gloved hand and snipping the stem with the shears. Remember to carefully place the cucumbers in your container or basket to avoid bruising. Continue to harvest cucumbers as they grow, repeating the process throughout the entire season. Once the crop starts coming in, harvesting is usually an everyday task.
Tips for Extending the Cucumber Season
While it can be tempting to leave your cukes on the vine and allow them to continue growing, they may not taste as good if they grow too large. Also, if you pick the cukes as soon as they’re ready, the plant will usually produce longer into the season. But if you’re looking to get the most out of your cucumber plant, try a few of the following methods.
- Consider sowing seeds indoors. Since cucumbers are planted a little after the first frost, you can get a head start and transplant them into the garden once spring arrives.
- As the end of the season nears, consider pruning smaller fruits so the plant can focus on producing the larger cukes.
- Plant different varieties that will mature at different rates.
- Remove all damaged fruit and leaves so the plant doesn’t waste energy.
Tips for Storing Cucumbers
Once you’ve harvested your cukes, refrigerate them to get the most out of your crops. Store the cucumbers in the crisper in perforated bags to ensure proper ventilation. Avoid stacking them or placing them next to other fruits and vegetables since this may block airflow. Also, don’t wash them until you are ready to eat, as this can cause them to rot or grow bacteria. You can also pickle the cukes to further preserve them.
Dill With It!
Harvesting your cucumbers is just as simple as growing them. They are ready for picking once they reach maturity, but harvesting sooner is better than later. Once they are ready, about 50 to 70 days after germination, you will be all set to harvest the cucumbers all summer long. Come to the end of the season, remember to prune away small fruits so the plant can focus on producing the last few mature veggies.
Will you be harvesting cucumbers this season? If so, let us know how you intend to cook or store them down below!