How to Grow Cucumbers in the Vegetable Garden
Looking to start a vegetable garden this year? Learn how to grow a healthy cucumber harvest with these tips.
Aside from juicy garden tomatoes, cucumbers are a close second for me.
Love to grow them.
Love to eat them.
And I wish the season lasted longer here in my zone 6a Jersey garden.
Have you grown them before?
Here are some best practices for growing cucumbers.
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Cucumbers, also known as Cucumis sativus, are common vegetables that can easily be grown at home in the vegetable garden.
They are fabulous when pickled, eaten raw or in salads and grow best in warm weather.
Where I live, my Jersey garden produces the best cucumber crops July through September.
Cucumber varieties can be either long vines or bush varieties.
I enjoy growing the vine varieties and allow them to grow up a fence, trellis or obelisk to save growing space in my vegetable garden.
Trellising cucumbers also encourage better air circulation, fruit production and improves overall plant health.
Are Cucumbers a Fruit?
Botanically speaking, cucumbers are considered a fruit because they develop from the flower of the cucumber plant and contain seeds.
However, in common culinary usage, cucumbers are often considered a vegetable because they are typically used in savory dishes and are not as sweet as many other fruits.
Ultimately, whether cucumbers are considered a fruit or a vegetable may depend on the context in which they are being discussed.
Many people think of cucumbers as a vegetable, yet they are considered to be a fruit because they start from seed and grow from the plant’s flowers.
Cucumbers also fall within the squash and pumpkin families, which are also classified as fruits.
How to Grow Cucumbers in Your Vegetable Garden
Growing cucumbers in your garden can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you are a seasoned or beginner gardener. Cucumbers are a popular option to grow in the vegetable garden that are not only delicious and refreshing, but also super easy to grow.
With the right conditions and a little bit of care, you can grow your own fresh and tasty cucumbers right in your own backyard.
Learn how to grow cucumbers with these simple tips.
How I Grow Cucumbers in My Garden
I prefer growing cucumbers in raised garden beds while offering them something to climb up as they vine.
We have had resident groundhogs and other critters that like to burrow, so we try to make it difficult for them to break into the vegetable garden.
After starting a new garden with these AWESOME self-watering raised garden beds a few years ago, I loved the result of the harvest.
So when we moved to our new home, I knew we needed to build raised beds so I could grow them again.
Since we didn’t have time to build the first year in, we reused these amazing raised beds from Gardeners Supply.
In 2023, we completely revamped the potager garden, and built new raised garden beds to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
Test Your Soil
When planting any garden, it is so important to test your soil. Understanding soil conditions and making improvements to the soil is the best way to grow happy, healthy plants.
Where cucumbers are concerned, they grow best in a soil ph between 6.0-6.5.
What does that mean?
Cucumbers prefer slightly acidic soil that is moisture-retentive yet well-draining.
To improve your soil, add manure or compost in spring and fall, and avoid using weed and feed fertilizers. And stick to more organic options like THIS one.
If you grow cucumbers and other vegetables in raised garden beds, you’ll have more control over the quality of the soil.
Cucumber Plants Need Pollination
In order to grow fruit, cucumbers need pollination. They have male and female flowers on the same plant.
In general, male flowers appear first attached by a slender stem. In contrast, female flowers grow much closer to the main vine in a small round ovary shape. So bees and other pollinating insects are necessary to move pollen between male and female flowers.
To help effectuate this, consider adding companion plantings around the vegetables like marigolds, borage, calendula, or nasturtiums to attract bees for pollination.
As an aside, lack of pollination is the main reason why home gardeners don’t get fruit on their vegetable plants.
So be sure there are plants around that attract pollinating insects.
Planting Cucumbers in the Vegetable Garden
Cucumbers can be started by seed indoors or sown directly in the garden.
You can also purchase plants ready to go into the garden from your local nursery. It’s best to direct sow cucumbers after all danger of frost has passed.
Always follow the seed packet’s sowing directions but in general, sow seeds about 1/2 inch deep. And after seedlings sprout, thin plants to roughly 8-12 inches apart.
Supporting Cucumber Plants
For vining varieties, give them a structure or apparatus to grow on to create more vertical growing space, improve air circulation, and brings more light to the plant to keep it healthy.
You can use an obelisk, trellis netting, or even tomato cages like these.
Watering Cucumber Plants
Cucumbers need an inch of water per week.
When watering, make sure to water the base of the plant, soaking through to the roots, and avoid watering the leaves.
This watering practice helps minimize pest and disease problems.
Controlling Weeds Around Cucumbers Plants
It is so important to weed gardens because they pull nutrients away from plants we want to grow.
The best method for controlling weeds is to pull or hoe weeds on the surface around cucumbers, then remove weeds from the garden.
Don’t leave them there or they can reroot in the bed.
I love to use THIS hand tool when cleaning up the gardens because it makes weeding go quicker, faster, and more effective.
Common Problems, Pest, and Diseases to Watch Out For
Some pest and disease problems associated with cucumbers include:
- the striped cucumber beetle
- spotted cucumber beetle
- powdery mildew
- fungal leaf spot and fruit rot diseases
- bacterial wilt
Other things to look out for is weather-related issues that can reduce pollination like the heat of summer, cold, rainy or cloudy days.
Best Companion Plants for Cucumbers
Companion planting involves strategically placing different plant species together in a garden to maximize their mutual benefits.
When it comes to cucumbers, there are several companion plants that can help improve growth, deter pests, and enhance overall garden health.
Here are some of the best companion plants for cucumbers and the reasons to use them.
- Marigolds: Marigolds are excellent companion plants for cucumbers because they repel many common cucumber pests, such as aphids and nematodes. Their strong scent acts as a natural deterrent, helping to keep these pests away.
- Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are known for their ability to repel cucumber beetles, which can cause significant damage to cucumber plants. Additionally, they attract beneficial insects like predatory beetles and parasitic wasps, which prey on cucumber beetle larvae.
- Radishes: Radishes are a great companion for cucumbers because they act as a trap crop for cucumber beetles. These beetles are attracted to radishes and will preferentially feed on them, reducing the damage to the cucumber plants.
- Beans: Beans, such as bush beans or pole beans, are beneficial companion plants for cucumbers due to their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Cucumbers are heavy feeders, and the nitrogen-fixing capacity of beans helps improve soil fertility, promoting healthy cucumber growth.
- Herbs: Herbs like dill, cilantro, and oregano can serve as companion plants for cucumbers. They attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which prey on pests like aphids and cucumber beetles.
- Sunflowers: Tall sunflowers can provide shade and wind protection for cucumber plants, helping to prevent them from drying out or being damaged by strong winds. Additionally, sunflowers attract pollinators, which can benefit cucumber plants during flowering and fruiting stages.
The Benefits of Using Companion Plants Around Cucumbers
- Pest control: Many companion plants repel or deter common cucumber pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. This helps create a more balanced and eco-friendly garden ecosystem.
- Increased pollination: Some companion plants attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which can enhance cucumber pollination and increase fruit yield.
- Nutrient enrichment: Nitrogen-fixing companion plants, like beans, improve soil fertility by adding nitrogen, which is essential for cucumber growth and development.
- Shade and wind protection: Taller companion plants, such as sunflowers, can provide shade and windbreaks, creating a more favorable microclimate for cucumber plants.
- Biodiversity and resilience: Planting a diverse range of companion plants promotes biodiversity in the garden, which can help reduce the risk of pest and disease outbreaks. It also enhances overall garden resilience and productivity.
Remember to consider the specific growing conditions and requirements of each companion plant when planning your garden layout.
How to Harvest and Store Cucumbers
Harvest cucumbers when they are the desired size. Note: if you leave very large cucumbers on the vine, the overall yield will decrease. So harvest accordingly.
When harvesting, be careful not to disturb the vine so you don’t damage new growth. I like to use pruners like THESE to harvest fruit in a snap.
Tip: avoid harvesting cucumbers after rain or when the plant is wet to avoid spreading disease.
To store, keep in a cold refrigerator or basement that is 55 degrees.
Not sure what to do with your harvest?
Consider pickling the cucumbers to store for year-round use. I’ve never done this before, but would love to try this year!
My Favorite Cucumber Recipes
When cucumbers are in season, there is nothing better than dropping sliced cucumbers in a fresh green salad.
But wait until you try this cucumber salad with dill recipe!
It is so fresh and delicious, and pairs well with any grilled dish.
But I also love this simple recipe for cucumber, tomato, and onion salad.
It is so light and refreshing to make in summer.
Plus it pairs well with any summer barbeque or low country boil dinners.
And if you are looking for a light and tasty sandwich, try this refreshing cucumber sandwich with cream cheese recipe.
Cucumber sandwiches are one of my favorites to enjoy.
They are perfect for any brunch, tea party or picnic!
More About Growing Cucumbers
Do you have any cucumber-growing tips you’d like to share? Do you grow them? Have a favorite variety? I would love to know more in the comments below.
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Garden Supplies I Use
I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.
- I like to use a good-quality garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use to get underneath roots, loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I like to use THIS ORGANIC FERTILIZER for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
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