How to Grow and Cultivate Cucumber : Easy to follow Steps

When reading about Middle Eastern food culture, I found that cucumbers play a huge role in their cuisine. Most main courses were accompanied with a cucumber salad. I began to wonder, what was I missing about this crunchy vegetable? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to how to grow cucumbers.

As it turns out, a fresh cucumber couldn’t taste more different from one that has traveled thousands of miles to sit on the grocery shelf. Growing cucumbers will not only produce the freshest, most flavorful cucumbers you can imagine, but they can be very lucrative, too.

About Cucumbers.

Cucumber is a weak-stemmed tender annual that grows 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) tall and sprawl on the ground or up over small trellises or supports. Leaves are somewhat heart-shaped with rough margins; leaves and stems are covered with prickly short hairs. Fowers are yellow. Fruit is commonly pale or dark green but some varieties are yellow or white; fruit ranges in size from 3 inches (7 cm) to more than 24 inches (61 cm) long.

Monoecios and Gynoecious Cucumbers:

Most cucumbers are monoecious, meaning plants produce both female and male flowers. Female flowers are commonly pollinated by insects after visiting male flowers.

Hybrid cucumber varieties are gynoecious producing only female flowers. These plants must be set near a monoecious plant for pollination or must be pollinated by hand. Gynoecious cultivars include ‘Conquest,’ ‘Early Pride,’ and ‘Bush Baby.’

Types of cucumbers

They include bush or vining plants; vining cultivars require more space but produce more fruit.

  • Pickling cucumbers have thin, pale green skin, bear fruit early, and concentrate fruiting in a 10 days period.
  • Slicing cucumbers, for fresh eating, commonly are green-skinned and set fruit for 4 to 6 weeks. Slicing cucumbers include “burpless’ cultivars which are mild flavored and easy to digest.
  • European, English, or greenhouse cucumbers are seedless cultivars developed for greenhouse growing.
  • Lemon cucumbers are yellow oval-to-round heirloom cucumbers.
  • Asian cucumbers are thin, heavily ribbed cultivars that grow from 12- to 24-inches long.
  • Gherkin is a term used for any pickling cucumber; however, a true gherkin is not a cucumber but the fruit of a different species, Cucumis anguria.
  • Cornichons is the generic French term for any small cucumber.

Within two months, you’ll have more cucumbers than you know what to do with! They grow well in container garden settings or in raised beds.

So find a place with maximum sunshine and fertile soil, and get ready to grow the best cucumber plants with these tips.

1. CHOOSE YOUR VARIETY

Cucumber varieties can be broken into two distinct camps: pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers. Each camp has its own different varieties, though fresh cucumbers are most often slicing cucumbers.

Pickling types seem to reach their peak faster and are usually bumpy and rough, while slicing varieties are smoother and have a better fresh flavor.

2. START YOUR CUCUMBERS INDOORS

If you want to harvest early, start your plants indoors a month before the last spring frost date. Cucumber seeds indoors will sprout with proper care, so be sure to provide air circulation and soil moisture to your small gardens.

Once you’ve passed the frost date, you’re in the clear to move the plants outdoors for the best homegrown crop yet.

3. HARVEST OFTEN

The more you harvest, the more fruit your healthy plants will produce. As most vine crops are wont to do, the cucumber vines will spread throughout the garden so be sure to either erect a trellis (see below) if your garden isn’t wide.

So if you want lots of cucumbers, harvest as often as possible to keep your plants happy.

4. DON’T LET THEM GET TOO BIG

Try to pick your cucumbers when they are of mature size. For slicing cucumber varieties, a mature fruit is around 6 to 8 inches. Pickling cucumbers mature fully around 3 to 4 inches.

Pickling styles are smaller fruits, which often can be helpful when using large mason jars that can hold multiple compact varieties at once. If the cucumbers get too large, they can be bitter or mushy, and will turn yellow, no matter the bush varieties.

5. KEEP THEM WARM

Cucumbers like warm weather and plenty of sunlight. Look for a spot that meets these conditions, and add compost to your soil to give them plenty of nutrients and get them off to a good start.

You can use organic fertilizer to encourage the transition from indoor cucumber plans to outside, though a warm soil temperature matters the most when the time comes to plant cucumbers.

6. BUILD A TRELLIS

Cucumbers like to vine, so you can trellis them to lift the fruit off of the soil, making your garden neat and pretty. If you have an old tomato cage around, you can use it or make your own trellis.

Lifting the vines off the ground promotes better airflow around the plant to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and bacterial wilt.

7. AVOID BITTER CUCUMBERS

If your cucumber is bitter, it may be experiencing heat stress or uneven watering due to alternating periods of drought and over watering.

You can cut out the section of the plant that is producing bitter cucumbers, move the plant to an area with more even temperature, or you can work hard to water evenly and regularly.

8. CONSIDER YOUR CLIMATE

Cucumbers love the heat and humidity, and they need even watering to prevent them from becoming bitter.

Look at the seeds or starts and make sure they are well adapted to your climate. Most seed packets companies have resources to help you find your growing zone.

Cucumber Diseases :

Cucumbers plants are susceptible to scab, mosaic, and mildew. Keep the garden clean of debris and weeds that can harbor pests and disease. Remove diseased plants immediately; put them in a paper bag and throw them in the trash to avoid the spread of disease. Plant disease resistant varieties. Look for the following coding to indicate disease resistance: leaf spot (LS), anthracnose (A), bacterial wilt (BW), mosaic (M), scab (S), and downy mildew (DM).

Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles; plants suddenly wilt and die just as they begin to produce. Control beetles as soon as they appear.

Downy mildew, a fungal disease, will cause some cucumber leaves to turn grayish white late in the season. Plant resistant varieties and space plants further apart to increase air circulation.

FUN FACTS

1. If you thought you could only make gazpacho with tomatoes, think again! Cucumbers make a delicious and refreshing chilled soup in the summertime.

2. Russia has an official Cucumber Day to celebrate the vegetable! The town of Suzdal celebrates the first cultivation of the cucumber from 500 years ago. It takes place every year in July, culminating in a cucumber-eating contest.

3. The viral sensation “cats afraid of cucumbers” created a hilarious number of videos where cat owners pranked their cat by placing a cucumber behind them while they ate. Apparently, cucumbers are a stealthy predator.

4. Spas are well known for putting cucumbers over your eyes, but do you know why? As it turns out, cucumbers contain ascorbic and caffeic acid, which soothes skin irritations and reduces swelling.

5. Cucumbers are high in vitamin B and electrolytes, and have a high water content. They are said to cure hangovers if you eat a few slices before going to bed.