Are you tired of buying cucumbers from the grocery store that lack flavor and freshness? Why not try growing your own cucumbers in a garden?
However, if you’re new to gardening, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to growing cucumbers in a garden.
From preparing the soil to harvesting the fruit, we’ll walk you through the steps to help you grow delicious cucumbers that you can enjoy all summer.
So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s get started on this exciting journey of growing your own cucumbers!
Preparing the Soil and Planting
Growing cucumbers in a garden requires proper preparation of the soil and planting. Here are some tips on how to prepare the soil and plant cucumbers successfully:
1. Choosing the Right Site for Planting Cucumbers
The first step in preparing the soil for growing cucumbers is to choose the right site. Cucumbers grow best in full sun, in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. It is also essential to choose a site that is protected from strong winds.
2. Testing and Amending Soil as Necessary
Before planting cucumbers, it is crucial to test the soil’s pH level and nutrient content. Cucumbers grow best in soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If the pH level is too low or high, the soil must be amended accordingly.
By adding compost, manure, or leaf mold, you can improve the soil’s structure, make it easier to get nutrients, and keep water in the soil.
3.Sowing Cucumber Seeds or Planting Seedlings
Cucumbers can be grown from seeds or seedlings. If sowing seeds directly into the soil, it is best to wait until after the last frost in the spring. Sow seeds about an inch deep and six inches apart. Once seedlings emerge, thin them to 12 inches apart to ensure proper spacing for growth.
If planting seedlings, it is essential to transplant them when they are 3–4 inches tall and have developed a few true leaves. It is important to handle seedlings gently to avoid damaging the roots.
Can Cucumbers Grow On The Ground?
There are two ways of planting cucumbers in a plot of soil: in rows or in mounds. Rows are more uniform and lead to a more efficient use of space. A raised row has the benefits of hills or mounds, better soil drainage, and a higher soil temperature, while also having the benefit of more plants in the same amount of space.
Cucumbers can grow on the ground and are grown that way commercially in the field. Rows are typically planted 4-6 feet apart, with cucumber plants spaced around 12–18 inches apart in the rows.
There are many benefits of growing with a trellis and not many with growing on the ground except for the avoided cost of the trellises and labor putting them up, taking them down, and training the vines up them.
Supporting Cucumber Plants in Garden
Cucumber plants are known for their vine-like growth habit, which can cause them to sprawl out and take up a lot of space in the garden. Supporting cucumber plants can help manage their growth and keep them healthy. Here are some ways to support cucumber plants:
Different Ways to Support Cucumber Plants
There are several ways to support cucumber plants, including trellises, stakes, cages, and A-frames. These structures can help keep the plants off the ground, improve air circulation, and make it easier to harvest the cucumbers. It is important to choose a support structure that is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the vines and fruit.
Using Trellises, Stakes, or Cages to Manage Vine Growth
- Trellises are a popular method of supporting cucumber plants. A trellis is typically a tall, narrow structure made of wood, metal, or wire mesh. The vines are trained to climb the trellis, which helps to keep them off the ground and promotes upward growth.
- Staking is another option for supporting cucumber plants. This method involves driving a stake into the ground next to the plant and tying the vine to the stake as it grows.
- Cages are also a popular option for supporting cucumber plants. Cages are typically made of metal or wire and are placed around the plant, allowing the vines to grow up and around the cage.
- An A-frame is another option for supporting cucumber plants. This structure is made of two trellises that are joined at the top to form an “A” shape. The vines are trained to grow up one side of the A-frame and down the other, providing support and promoting upward growth.
The Best Way to Grow Cucumbers In a Garden
The best way to grow cucumbers is on a trellis and in a raised bed. Using a trellis to grow cucumbers has tons of benefits, including more efficient use of space, more sunshine on the foliage, higher yields, and less chance of disease. A raised row bed increases soil temperature and drainage.
Cucumbers grown in the garden can be grown however the gardener likes. The best way to grow cucumbers in the garden is with a trellis.
A trellis uses vertical space, and rows don’t need as much space between them. Growing cucumbers on a trellis will lead to them getting more sunshine and air flow. It also makes for better visibility of cucumbers as they’re growing, which helps pick cucumbers in the optimal harvest window and keeps the plant producing.
Another cool thing about growing cucumbers in the garden with a trellis or support is that you can use whatever you want to train the cucumber plant up. Here’s an article that’s all about the benefits of using a trellis in a garden.
All cucumbers grown in greenhouses are grown on support systems. The reason trellises are not used in all field crops of cucumbers is cost. For any small gardener, using a trellis is the way to go and can even be used when growing in a container.
Farmers that grow pickling cucumbers that produce for a shorter time than slicing cucumbers will use a harvester like the one above and cut out large labor costs for picking.
Slicing cucumbers grown in a field may use trellises or not, depending on the farmer.
Benefits of Growing Cucumbers on a Trellis
Using a trellis leads to more full sunshine on the foliage and tighter spacing between rows, which leads to higher yields. Plants that get more air are healthier and less likely to get diseases. This is especially true for cucumbers, which often get powdery mildew.
Having the cucumbers off the ground allows for gravity to form uniformly shaped cucumbers and keeps them away from pests in the soil and the chance of rot from sitting in wet soil for prolonged times.
Having cucumber plants on a trellis also allows for a better visual of the cucumber plant, which leads to picking at the right time and easier harvesting. Picking cucumbers at the right time is extremely important for cucumbers and promotes higher yields.
When cucumber plants are on trellises, you can see them better, which makes it easier to know when to pick them and pick them at the right time. One cucumber can easily escape a grower’s view on the ground but less easily on a trellis.
How To Grow Cucumbers On A Trellis
Put the trellis in place before planting the cucumbers. Start to train them up the trellis from a young age, and be gentle with them as you intertwine them throughout the trellis. A trellis that has enough spacing in it that you can pick the cucumbers from either side of the fence is nice.
If the trellis has holes spaced too closely, some cucumbers can be tough to reach, and some might end up growing through that tight space and becoming misshapen. Proper pruning is important to create optimal foliage and air circulation. There’s a great video on pruning below.
You can make a trellis out of lots of things, including an existing fence. Google “DIY trellis” and you’ll find lots of cool ideas. Here are a few different types and what they are good for.
How Tall Should A Cucumber Trellis Be?
A cucumber trellis should be at least 6 feet high. Different vining cucumbers grow to different lengths. An A-shaped or tent trellis will allow the cucumber to use both sides of the trellis.
If you’re using a vertical trellis, you can always prune at the top and let some side growth occur. The ways to support these plants are endless. This is a great video on how to prune cucumber plants.
Variety Of Cucumber To Grow With a Trellis
Selecting the right cucumber variety is crucial for a successful cucumber harvest. There are various types of cucumbers to choose from, each with unique characteristics that make them better suited for different growing conditions. Here are some tips for selecting the right cucumber variety to grow in a garden:
Determining the Type of Cucumber to Grow
Cucumbers are generally divided into two types: slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. Slicing cucumbers are larger, smoother, and have thicker skins, making them ideal for use in salads and sandwiches. Pickling cucumbers are smaller, crisper, and have thinner skins, making them perfect for pickling. What you want to do with the cucumbers will help you decide what kind to grow.
Consideration for the Climate and Soil Condition
Cucumbers are warm-weather crops that require well-drained soil and full sun to thrive. However, different varieties have different temperature preferences. Some kinds of cucumbers, like Armenian cucumbers, do better in hot, dry climates, while others, like English cucumbers, do better in cooler climates. It is also essential to consider the soil conditions when selecting cucumber varieties. Some cucumber varieties are more tolerant of poor soil conditions than others.
Evaluating Seed Catalogs or Nurseries for Available Options
There are numerous cucumber varieties available in seed catalogs or nurseries. It is important to look at the options and choose a variety that will do well in the garden. Seed catalogs have a lot of information about each variety, like how it grows, how big its fruits are, how resistant it is to diseases, and other things that can help gardeners make a good choice.
Commercial Methods of Growing Cucumbers
Cucumbers are grown commercially in fields and in greenhouses. A typical field has somewhere around 60,000 plants per acre but can range from 40,000 to 150,000 cucumber plants per acre.
Most fields are picked by hand every two days or so, as long as the plants are producing. Some fields are harvested by machine, and this happens only once. The field is then plowed under, and a second crop of cucumbers or something else can be grown. This paper from PennState Extension shows a sample budget for a small cucumber farm.
Cucumbers grown in greenhouses are always trellised. They are taken better care of than field crops and demand a premium because of their uniform shape, size, and color. This article does a great job of explaining greenhouse cucumber growing methods, including the drape method, umbrella method, V-cordon method, and lean-and-lower method.
There are many different ways to grow cucumbers, and I hope that you’ve come to the same conclusion that I have: using a trellis is the way to go. Growing cucumbers with a trellis saves space, increases cucumber yields, and decreases the risks of pests and disease.
Have fun with your trellis and do a DIY setup or go with a standard wire fence or anything in between!
Please leave any thoughts, questions, or experiences on cucumber growing with and without a trellis.