What’s more refreshing on a summer day than a fresh cucumber right out of your garden? Enjoy them right off the vine sliced up in salads or let them float atop a pitcher of ice water. Quick to mature, cucumbers are a great choice for new gardeners, and are the second favorite home grown vegetable, right behind the tomato. So what’s up with growing these green beauties? A few basics and you’ll be amazed how soon you’ll be enjoying them.
Slicers or Picklers
Decide which cucumbers you want to grow. Do you want them to slice and eat or do you want to pickle them? Either (or both) will require you to choose the right seed or plant. Seed packets will tell you which is which. Pickling cukes are generally lighter in color, a bit smaller and have bumpy wrinkled rinds.
Plant your seeds half an inch deep in well drained organic soil 6 inches apart. Keep the soil moist at all times but not soggy. When you have three true leaves, thin out the weak seedlings, leaving 3 feet between plants. This always seems painful for me, tossing a live plant, but if cucumbers are placed too close to each other, they’re not going to produce a lot of fruit.
Room to grow
Cucumbers need a lot of room to grow. If you have a trellis or some sort of support, they love to “trail” up. Their vines will stick and attach to anything. If you let them grow along the ground they’re going to need at least 3 feet between plants. When planting young seedlings, this will seem like a huge waste of your garden real estate, but once they start “vining” you’ll be glad you spaced them.
Cukes are heavy feeders. After the vines produce runners and flowers appear, fertilize with organic compost, organic fertilizer or well aged manure. Bury the fertilizer a few inches deep around the base of the plants. A good clue that your plants need more food is yellowing leaves.
Growing cucumbers is pretty easy. Feed and water them and give them plenty of room to grow. Plant new seeds every two weeks and you’ll have crisp green cukes well into the fall.