How to Grow CUCUMBER
Whether for pickling or slicing, cucumbers are easy to grow if you give them good soil, full sun and sufficient moisture, and wait for weather to warm before planting.
Seeds or Seedlings
3 to 10 days, 60F to 105F
Well Drained, High Fertility
Full Sun, Part Shade
8" to 15 " apart
DAYS OF HARVEST
50 to 60
Cucumbers are very sensitive to cold. They need warm soil and air, whether direct-seeded or transplanted. Don’t rush to plant too early. Seed will not germinate if soil temperature is below 50 F, and germinates only slowly at 68 F.
Direct-seed 1 to 1 ½ inches deep, either in rows (2 inches apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart) or in hills (3 to 6 seeds per hill, hills spaced 3 to 5 feet apart).
Thin to 8 to 15 inches apart in rows or 2 to 3 plants per hill. Snip off plants when thinning to avoid disturbing the roots of nearby plants.
For early crops, use black plastic mulch and row covers or other protection to speed warming and protect plants. Direct seed into holes in plastic. Cucumbers seeded into black plastic usually produce larger yields, as well earlier ones.
For extra early crops, start plants inside 3 to 5 weeks before transplanting. Sow 3 seeds per pot in 2-inch pots. Thin to one or two plants per pot. Grow above 70 F during the day and above 60 F at night. Be careful when hardening-off plants not to expose them to cold temperatures.
Plants with one or two true leaves transplant best. Transplant into black plastic mulch or warm garden soil after danger of frost has passed and weather has settled. Be careful not to damage roots when transplanting. If using peat pots, make sure they are saturated before transplanting and completely buried. If using row covers, remove when flowers begin to blossom to assure good pollination.
For a continuous harvest, make successive plantings every 2 to 3 weeks until about 3 months before first fall frost date. About 1 month before first frost, start pinching off new flowers so plants channel energy into ripening existing fruit.
To save space, train vining cucumbers to a trellis. (Make sure the trellised plants don’t shade other sun-loving plants.) This also increases air circulation (reducing disease problems), makes harvest easier and produces straighter fruit. Set up trellis before planting or transplanting to avoid root injury. Space plants about 10 inches apart. Pinch back vines that extend beyond the trellis to encourage lateral growth.
Most cucumbers have both male and female flowers. The male flowers blossom first and produce pollen, but no fruit. Other varieties produce female flowers predominately or exclusively. Seed packs of these varieties include a few seeds (usually marked with dye) of another variety that produces male flowers to provide pollen. Make sure you don’t remove pollinator plants when thinning.
Generally the time to harvest for cucumbers is approximately sixty to seventy days from planting to harvest. Cucumbers can be picked at anytime there is fruit, of course depending on the cucumber variety and use of the fruit. Cucumbers should be picked early in the morning and refrigerated immediately. The larger a cucumber gets, the more of it's flavor is lost, becoming bitter and unpalatable. Cucumbers that have turned yellow are past their peak. Once the first cucumbers are ready to be harvested cut the vine about a half an inch above the fruit. Harvest all of the vegetables before maturity to ensure quality fruits and a higher yields. During harvest time, cucumbers should be picked at least every other day, with daily harvesting being ideal.
Slice fruit lengthwise and scrape seeds out with spoon. Allow seeds and jelly-like liquid to sit in jar at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. Fungus will start to form on top. Stir daily. Jelly will dissolve and good seeds will sink to bottom while remaining debris and immature seeds can be rinsed away. Spread seeds on a paper towel or screen until dry.
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