Planting and Growing Cucumbers
Cucumbers are tasty and you can use them in many different ways: to make salads or sandwiches, juices or even cucumber water. It’s not surprising many people want to grow cucumbers in their gardens or even their homes.
The good news is that you can easily grow cucumbers in a pot and vertically on a trellis. This will save you some space and you can produce a nice crop.
Growing cucumbers this way will make harvesting easy and it will also reduce the risk of diseases.
Different Types of Cucumbers
There are many cucumber types you can choose from:
- Slicing: Sweet Success, Sweet Slice
- Pickling: National Pickling and Multipik
- Exotic varieties: Armenian
It’s important to know that you can pickle both slicing and pickling types if you pick cucumbers while they are still small.
Using a Cucumber Trellis
You can save a lot of space if you grow cucumbers vertically. You can use a handy cucumber trellis in your home garden to produce some crops. All you need is a few feet of space in your backyard or even on a terrace. All you need to do is to build a trellis to train them upward.
Remember, growing cucumbers in a traditional way requires more space, since many cucumber varieties can spread 6 to 8 feet in diameter. Trellis method is very handy for saving space. A cucumber trellis offers many advantages:
- It makes harvesting easy. It is easy to find the cucumbers and pick them.
- It keeps cucumbers off the ground. This way, they will be less exposed to pests and diseases.
There are also some cucumber varieties you can grow in containers: they actually make excellent container plants. It’s important to install a cage or trellis in the pot as soon as the cucumber is planted so it can be trained upward. In case you wait, it will be difficult to train the vine onto the trellis without causing damage to the vine.
How to Plant Cucumbers in the Garden
There are two main ways of planting cucumbers: transplant method and direct sow. Both work, but it’s often better to go with direct sowing, because you need to apply much care not to disturb the roots while transplanting. In order to save time you can purchase small plants. Alternatively, these small plants can be started in pots and transplanted later, when they are ready.
The first thing you need to think about when planting cucumbers is to prepare the soil. When looking for the best spot, go for loose, warm ad nutrient-rich soil. Humus works best for cucumbers. Prepare it to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, because you need to give plenty of room for roots to grow. You should make sure that the area is well-drained because cucumbers can’t thrive if the area is constantly wet.
If you want to plant more than one cucumber plant, you need to ensure that they are properly spaced. Leave at least 4 to 5 feet apart to allow some space walk between the vines and to ensure good feeding. You may also consider metal or untreated wood trellis to train the vines upward. As discussed above, it will save you some space. In case the soil has not been enriched with compost or humus, you should use some fertilizer. Remember: cucumbers are fast growing plants so it’s very important to give them all water and nutrients they need during the growing season.
Before you plant cucumber seeds, you need to make sure that the danger of frost has passed. Cucumbers are subtropical plants and they require warm temperatures. When the soil is warm enough, make some furrows about an inch deep into the beds. Drop 3 or 4 seeds in each hole. Cover the seeds completely with soil but make sure not to pack it too tightly.
Alternatively, if you use small transplants, you need to be very gentle and careful because small cucumber plants can easily be damaged during transplanting. If you choose to go with transplants, make sure to purchase small plants in bio-degradable containers that can be planted directly into the ground so you don’t have to disturb the little plants.
How to Care for Cucumbers?
After you have planted the seeds or transplants, it gets easier. All you need to do is to ensure that the plants are well-watered (not overwatered, though) and weed-free. When the plants are small, water more frequently because the root system is near the surface so it will dry out quickly. You should apply mulch around the plant so you can help retain moisture and prevent weeds. When the plant grows larger, the watering should be less frequent but deep.
Cucumbers are susceptible to several pests and diseases, especially in the early stages of their growth. Most of the varieties available in the local garden centers tend to be healthy, but it’s always important to be careful. In case you notice some problems, you can use insecticides to get rid of pests. Don’t use insecticides in the garden during the time when pollinating insects such as bees are working the flowers.
If you want to ensure that your cucumbers are not bitter, it’s best to choose varieties not known for their bitterness. Other than that, you need to ensure that your cucumbers receive enough water – often times, bitter cucumbers are those that haven’t received enough watering. Remember: cucumbers need more water than most of the other garden plants.
If your cucumbers are bitter, try this tip to remove bitterness:
1. Take a can (about one gallon) and make holes all around the bottom of the can with a pointed can opener.
2. Burry the can in the ground next to your cucumber plant.
3. Using a garden hose, slowly fill the can with water a few times a week.
This will give your cucumbers extra water to remove bitterness. At the same time, you won’t over-water the rest of your garden. Also, because the can is buried, with the holes in the bottom, the water is released deep in the ground so it can water thirsty cucumber roots directly. This method is also good because it prevents mildew. Cucumber vines are prone to powdery mildew if they are left wet overnight. It’s therefore important to water your cucumbers in the morning so the foliage can dry completely before the night.
Cucumbers grow fast and they produce fruit very quickly. If you take a good care of them you will soon have a nice crop for your salads, sandwiches and pickles.