Growing cucumbers in your backyard garden is easy and fun! There is nothing like picking fresh cucumbers from the garden to make a salad for dinner.
Cucumbers are a member of the gourd family originating in Asia and Europe and have been cultivated for more than 3000 years. They are now grown through out the world with each country having their favorite variety and growing season.
Cucumber habit is a trailing vine spreading as much as 6 feet. A rapid grower, most varieties mature in 55-65 days. The quick growing habit makes them easy to plant every 2-3 weeks for fresh cucumbers all summer.
I started growing cucumbers with vertical gardening to save space. I was pleasantly surprised, not only did my yield increase but the cucumbers were straight and clean.
Cucumbers have both male and female flowers and the insects were actively buzzing among the vines pollinating each flower. It is easier to see your flowers if you like to hand pollinate your cucumbers.
Cucumbers average 3-6 inches for pickling cucumbers, 10-12 inches for slicing cucumbers and English and Asian cucumbers can get 12-18 inches long.
Cucumbers are 95 percent water but contain a pretty good amount of nutrients as follows.
One medium cucumber (100gms):15 Calories
Vitamin A 35 units
Vitamin B1 .060 mg
Vitamin B2 .054 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Phosphorus 21 mg
Calcium 10 mg
Iron .3 mg
Protien 1 gm
I usually grow two varieties of cucumbers, one for eating and one for pickling. Boston Pickling is my favorite for making dill pickles . Matures in 55 days, bears nice evenly shaped fruit 3-7 inches long. I use these for my dill pickles. This heirloom variety is an old favorite.
I received some free seeds and one of them was called Muncher Cucumber. I really liked this eating cucumber. It matures in 65 days, can be eaten while small or larger. My favorite size to pick is 5 to 6 inches. It remains slim and the seeds are small. It has a sweet juicy fruit and produces well all summer. I picked these till fall. This cucumber was so prolific I shared them with family, neighbors and even juiced them.
Cucumbers make a great salad mixed with tomatoes and a light dressing. Growing cucumbers on a trellis increased my yield over previous years.
Try different varieties to find your favorites.
Cucumbers are a warm season crop but do well in most parts of the country since they mature quickly. Try planting cucumbers where you planted beans or peas the year before. Peas are an early crop and after they are harvested in the spring, replace with cucumbers.
Work well rotted compost into the soil. A good 5-10-5 fertilizer formula added to the soil will provide nutrients needed as the cucumbers grow.
Soil should be warm after all danger of frost has passed. You can grow cucumbers in rows or hills spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. If growing on a trellis support, plant in rows. I like to grow cucumbers on chicken wire or fence panels. Check my vertical garden page for different support methods.
Make your rows running east to west if possible, 12 to 18 inches wide and 18 inches apart, enough to walk down. Place your vertical supports on the north side of your row.
See how I set up the vertical supports on my
pumpkin page. When the weather is warm plant your cucumber seeds 6 inches from the fence every 8 inches on the south side.
When your cucumber plants reach 12 inches you can begin to train the
vines to grow on the support. Tie the vines loosely with jute twine.
Every few days tie vines to the supports.
Cucumbers grow quickly and need a constant supply of water. Mulching around your young cucumber plants will help maintain moisture. Water at least 2 times a week with a deep watering depending on your outside temperature.
When cucumbers begin to form, keep an eye on them. They seem to grow overnight. Pick cucumbers when fruits are 3-4 inches for pickling and 6-8 inches for slicing.
Plant marigolds on the north side of your trellis to help repel beetles. The flowers add color and eye appeal to your vegetable garden.