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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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About Cucumbers

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 encourages better air circulation, fruit production and improves overall plant health.

cucumber salad with dill

Are Cucumbers a Fruit?

While most people consider cucumbers to be a vegetable, they are considered to be a fruit because they start from seed and grow from the plant’s flowers.

Cucumbers fall within the squash and pumpkin families, which are also classified as fruits.

close up of gardener's supply self-watering raised garden beds filled with herbs and vegetables in the potager garden in my early summer garden tour

How to Grow Cucumbers in Your Vegetable Garden

I love growing cucumbers in raised garden beds.

We have a resident groundhog and other critters that like to burrow, so we try to make it difficult for them to break into the vegetable garden.

This year, I started a new garden with these AWESOME self-watering raised garden beds.

Because my raised beds are sited on our septic field, the drainage field below makes it difficult for critters to come up underneath the beds.

And the corrugated metal makes it more challenging for chipmunks and the like, to climb up into the beds.

When we had the former vegetable garden, we built raised beds from cedar and laid chicken wire underneath.

So plan accordingly, if critters are an issue in your garden.

self-watering raised garden bed

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.

Stick to more organic options like THIS one.

Raised garden beds for vegetables and herbs

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.

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 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.

raised bed garden

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.

After seedlings sprout, thin plants to roughly 8-12 inches apart.

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.

raised bed garden for vegetables and herbs

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.

landscaping for curb appeal

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 Disease 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.

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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 a rain or when the plant is wet to avoid spreading disease.

To store, keep in 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!

cucumber salad with dill

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, delicious and pairs well with any grilled dish.

cucumber salad with dill

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.

close up of easy salad with cucumber, tomato, onion recipe

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!

Refreshing Cucumber Sandwich with Cream Cheese

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    1. Nice! What kind of veggies are your growing? I love fresh off the vine cucumbers! They are so good!

  1. Stacy,
    I love cucumbers also. Mine have been producing really well. I have a great appetizer recipe that I found buried in a drawer at our beach cottage. I can’t wait to share it. I had forgotten all about it.

  2. Stacy, I have tried to grow cucumbers here with sketchy results. I do love cucumbers and perhaps need to do more research as to why I don’t have any luck in our climate. So wonderful that you have a bumper crop!

    1. Thank you Mary! It’s really interesting to dig deep into problems – I love figuring out the stuff that isn’t growing well.

  3. So many great tips Stacy. I am so bad at vegetable gardening, I appreciate the info on the pollination.

  4. Pingback: Fresh Herb & Cucumber Recipes - Appetizer Dip & Pesto recipes
  5. Stacy, thanks for the great information about cucumbers. For some reason I have been unsuccessful in growing them here in Phoenix. But I think it might have to do with my soil. Not sure but I will pay attention and try them again. Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. I really appreciate that Mary and I hope you find success growing them!!! They are so yummy picked fresh.

  6. With the way my family eats cucumbers I NEED to start growing them! 😆😆 Next year… Pinned to remember!

  7. I love your raised bed garden. Not only is it beautiful, but it makes gardening so much easier.
    I’m so looking forward to seeing you at Haven.

    1. Mine are just starting to flower…soon! My zucchini is not doing as well as I’d like though. Bummer.