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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Cucumbers

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If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy vegetable to add to your garden, look no further than the cucumber! Cucumbers are easy to grow and can be harvested in as little as 55 days.

Learn how to grow cucumbers including planting cucumbers, when to plant them, how to care for them, how to harvest them, and common pests and diseases that affect cucumbers. Let’s get started!

Cucumbers growing in the garden

When to Plant Cucumbers

Cucumbers do not enjoy cool weather, so plant them after the soil has warmed up in late spring and all danger of frost has passed. In general, cucumbers will grow well in zones three through ten, but check your seed packet for specific planting times based on your zone.

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If using seeds, be sure to prepare the soil well and choose the right variety for your space and needs. If using cucumber plants, you can purchase them at your local garden center or online. Be sure to choose a variety of plants that will mature in the amount of time you have before your first frost. Also be sure to check the roots of any purchased plants to ensure you’re not getting any plants with root rot.

How to Plant Cucumbers

If using seeds, cucumbers are best planted in hills, with three to four seeds per hill. Space the hills four to six feet apart and plant the seeds in the top of the hill. When the plants are about three inches tall and you have your first true leaves, thin them to one healthy plant per hill.

Thinning always seems tough since they’re perfectly good plants, but you need to give the plant adequate space to grow. See my post on How to Thin Seedlings for a tutorial and video.

If using plants, simply space them about four feet apart in rows that are spaced four to six feet apart. If you’re planning to use some type of trellis or support system, be sure to consider this when planting as well.

If you’re not sure what cucumbers to plant in your garden this year, be sure to check out my post all about the Best Varieties of Cucumbers for the Home Garden. This post goes into detail on the best varieties no matter if you want slicing, pickling, bush or unique varieties of cucumbers .Be sure to check it out!

How to Maintain Cucumber Plants

While cucumber plants are pretty low maintenance, they do require some care.

Watering– Cucumbers need about an inch of water a week, so be sure to keep your plants well watered. If you mulch around the base of the plant, this will help retain moisture in the soil and reduce weeds. (Not sure what watering system to use? Check out my post on the Best Garden Watering Systems.)

Fertilizing-If you’ve prepared your soil well before planting with compost or another type of organic fertilizer, you likely won’t need to fertilize your plants again. If you have nitrogen-rich soil, add some phosphorus to help with blooming and fruiting. You can use a balanced organic fertilizer (I love Espoma’s Garden Tone) or fish emulsion every two weeks during the growing season. (Remember, soil tests help you to know exactly what your plants will need to grow well.)

Weed Control– Weeds can compete with cucumber plants for water and nutrients, so be sure to keep an eye on your garden and pull any weeds as soon as you see them. Mulching will help reduce the weed population, but regular weeding is still necessary.

Pruning Cucumber Plants– Pruning isn’t necessary for cucumber plants, but if you want to tidy up the plant or remove some of the less productive vines, go ahead. (You can also trim off any dead or diseased vines.)

How to Grow Cucumbers Vertically

Trellising is a great way to grow cucumbers since it not only makes your garden look attractive and neater, but it can help increase yields and keep the fruit off of the ground where they may be more susceptible to pests and disease.

See my full post on How to Grow Cucumbers Vertically. Growing cucumbers on a trellis also makes container gardening much easier. For those with limited amounts of space, growing vertically eliminates the need for a large garden space. (I have this metal garden obelisk that I use for trellising plants in my garden, and I love it!)

grow cucumbers vertically
Cucumber plant growing on a trellis

When and How to Harvest Cucumbers

Cucumbers are typically ready to harvest 55-65 days after planting, depending on the variety. The cucumbers should be firm and bright green.

Try not to leave cucumbers on the vine too long, or they may become misshapen and will be more likely to attract pests. Your seed package or plant tag will give you the exact harvest range for the type of cucumbers you’re growing, so be sure to reference this.

Common Pests and Diseases of Cucumber Plants

While cucumber plants are pretty resilient, they can suffer from a number of pests and diseases. Some common cucumber pests include

  • aphids
  • spider mites
  • whiteflies
  • cucumber beetles
aphids on garden plant
aphids on a garden plant

These pests can cause damage to the leaves and fruit of the plant, as well as moving on to attack other plants in your garden. Keeping an eye on your garden a little each day is the number one tip for natural pest control, but even then, pests can still make an appearance.

To help protect your plants from these pests, be sure to practice good garden hygiene, including removing diseased plants or plant parts, as well as rotating your crops to prevent pests from developing resistance.

Row covers can also help protect cucumber plants from pests. Simply loosely drape the row cover over your young plants and secure it with a rock or another heavy object. This will keep garden pests off of your plants while still allow sun to penetrate. For articles on these specific pests, see my posts:

You can also check out my guide: Natural Pest Control for the Home Garden; it’s a great resource to have on hand to keep your garden free from pests and chemical insecticides.

So, give cucumbers a try in your garden this year. They are easy to grow and fun to preserve (think, dill pickles!). And if you have an abundant harvest, your friends and neighbors will be sure to thank you!If you have any other tips on growing cucumbers, be sure to drop a comment below and let this gardening community know. Gardeners are always learning!

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