Crunchy cucumbers fresh from the garden is something all gardeners would love to enjoy, but to get an excellent harvest, when do you plant cucumbers?
Cucumbers thrive in hot weather and drink lots of water. So growing them in hot weather produces amazing fruits.
They are frost intolerant and should not be set in the soil before the temperatures warm up to about 70 degrees. Please wait at least 2 weeks after the last frost date to plant them.
Cucumber plants are in two forms – vine and bush.
Vines are the common ones growing with the support of a trellis, a fence, or bamboo sticks, while the bush types like the Burpless Bush hybrid forms a more compact plant.
Vining cucumbers yield more fruit throughout their growing season than the bush. The bush variety is suitable for containers and small gardens. You can increase the productivity of your bush varieties by planting several crops during the cucumbers growing season in the succession of 2 weeks apart.
Where Should You Plant Cucumbers?
Cucumbers are grown in favorable conditions that include:
Full Sun. Cucumbers tolerate partial shade but love full sun.
Well, Drained Soil. Cucumbers love loose, well-drained soils rich in organic matter. Prepare your planting beds in advance by adding 2 to 3 inches of aged compost, aged manure, or commercial organic planting mix. Turn the soil up to 12 inches deep; your soil is ready for planting.
Warm The Soil. When the temperatures are still low during spring, cover the soil with a black plastic sheet to keep the soil warm before planting.
Check The Soil pH. Cucumbers can tolerate alkaline soil of pH 7.6 but prefer pH 5.5 to 6.8.
Set Up Your Support. Suppose you are growing vine cucumbers; set up your trellis or support that will come in handy in holding your cucumber vines up. Create a small hill using a soil mound where you will plant the cucumber vines. Use a trellis or any other support every 4 to 6 feet tall.
When To Plant Cucumbers?
The best time to plant cucumbers is several weeks after the last date of frost. After the last frost date, get ready to start your cucumber seeds. It would help if you seeded or transplant your seeds or seedling outside in the ground earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost date.
These vegetables are extremely susceptible to frost and cold damage. Wait for the soil to warm up to at least 70ºF for germination. Do not plant outdoors too soon!
To get a good head start, sow your cucumber seeds indoors at least 3 weeks before you transplant them in the garden. The ground temperatures must be at least 70 degrees F or 21 degrees C.
How To Plant Cucumbers
Now that we know when to plant them let’s look at the right way to plant your cucumbers.
Sow your seeds at least an inch deep. Sow your seeds on a mound or at the base of a vertical support 6 to the 8-inch interval.
Thin your seedlings when they are 3 to 4 inches tall. Leave them spaced out at 12 to 18 inches apart for bush varieties.
Cut off weak seedlings at the soil level with scissors to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining plants.
Set a tripod, trellis, or cage in place during planting time if you grow the vine cucumbers. A 12 to 18-inch diameter cage is ideal, or a cage from about 4 to 5 feet.
To target an early harvest, start your cucumbers indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost date in spring. Then, after the soil warms up outside, transplant your seedlings to the garden.
Taking Care Of Your Growing Cucumbers
Once you have planted your cucumbers and the weather is good, it’s time to take care of them.
The main care requirement is water. Cucumbers need constant watering! Water at least one inch every week or more if the temperatures are getting high. To test your soil for water, put your finger in the soil. If it feels dry past the first joint, it’s best you water. Inconsistent watering makes your fruits bitter tasting.
Water in the morning or the afternoon, avoiding pouring water on the leaves to not encourage leaf diseases. Instead, suppose possible to use a hose pipe or drip irrigation to keep the foliage dry.
Mulch your plants to help them hold in moisture
Begin to water frequently when seedlings emerge and increase to a gallon per week, per plant after fruits form.
When seedlings reach 4 inches, thin the plants to be well spaced at least 1 ½ feet apart.
Side dress your plants with more organic matter or well-rooted manure. You can use a fertilizer too if you wish, but it’s not recommended. Instead, use a fertilizer that has low nitrogen and high potassium and phosphorous formula. Apply the fertilizer at planting, a week after bloom, and every 3 weeks directly to the soil around the plants. Do not over-fertilize, or the fruits will get stunted.
Spray your vines with a sugar-water solution to attract bees and set more fruit.
How To Deal With No Fruit Problem
If you notice that your cucumber does not set fruit, it’s not a disease rather, it’s a pollination issue. It means the plant produced all male flowers.
This plant produces male and female flowers simultaneously, but sometimes it may not happen early in the plant’s life. Female flowers are the ones with a small cucumber-shaped swelling at the base that will become the fruit.
Lack of fruit may also be due to poor pollination by bees, especially during cold or rainy temperatures. If all else fails, you can hand pollinate.
Once you have grown your cucumbers, harvest them on time to prevent them from getting a woody and bitter taste.
There is nothing as delicious as a sliced fresh cucumber. You get to enjoy the crunchy feel as you chew on them not forgetting the fresh taste of cucumber juice coming out.
Go on and enjoy growing your own cucumbers, you will have so much fun and a good harvest to take home. So enjoy your gardening journey to the fullest!