There’s no better feeling than growing your own vegetables. There’s something especially satisfying about seeing your efforts pay off, and cucumbers are one of the best vegetables to grow. They taste great in a salad, on sandwiches, or even pickled — there’s a style of cucumber for everyone. So, when should you plant cucumbers?
The best time to plant cucumbers is in spring or summer, though you can plant them as early as February in very warm states. The soil needs to be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you test it before you plant the cucumber seeds for the best results.
Let’s take a closer look at when the best time to plant cucumber seeds is, as well as the different types of cucumbers and how to take care of them.
Best Months for Planting Cucumber Seeds
The best months for planting cucumber seeds very much depend on where you live. If you live in a state that has mild temperatures, summer is probably best. You shouldn’t plant them any earlier than April since chances are it’ll be too cold for them to survive otherwise. In hotter states, however, you may be able to plant as early as February.
The main thing is to make sure the soil temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s any colder than that, the seeds won’t be able to grow. You can find out if the temperature is right by using a soil thermometer (on Amazon). However, if the temperature in the air is higher than 65˚, the soil is likely fine, especially if the plot is located in the sun.
If you need to heat the soil up to get cucumbers planted a little early, you can cover it in plastic sheeting (on Amazon) — preferably of a dark color to really lock that heat in. Do this while the sun is shining on the soil and then test the temperature after an hour or two.
Vining Cucumbers vs. Bush Cucumbers
If you’re going to grow cucumbers, you’ll have to decide which type you want to grow. Let’s take a look at the options.
Vining cucumbers grow on vines with large leaves and are the most common type of cucumber. There are usually more cucumbers on this plant, so if you take care of it right, you shouldn’t have trouble getting results. They also tend to be cleaner since they grow so far above the soil.
Bush cucumbers come from a smaller plant, but if you don’t have much space to grow these vegetables, they might be the better option for you. You can also grow bush cucumbers inside of containers, which makes them even more ideal for those who don’t have large gardens at home.
Within these two categories of cucumber, there are three main varieties: slicing, pickling, and seedless. Garden cucumbers are the most common ones you’ll find in the United States, but the type of cucumbers you’d like to grow ultimately depends on what you want to do with them. Make sure you consider this before buying seeds.
Which Cucumbers Are Best for Pickling?
The Boston Pickling Cucumber is bred specifically for this purpose and is a vine cucumber. While you can technically pickle any cucumber, this one will give you a very nice crunch.
How Long Do Cucumbers Take to Grow?
Since there are many different varieties of cucumber and conditions in which they grow, how long yours will take to grow depends on various factors. However, you probably won’t see them fully grown before 50 days, and they may take as long as 70, so account for that range when you plant them.
How to Care for Cucumber Plants
When it comes to the initial planting stage, make sure the soil is above the specified 65 degrees Fahrenheit, as we mentioned above. Get your cucumber seeds (on Amazon) and place them about an inch deep into the soil.
Cover them again and gently press the soil down to make sure it’s flat against the seeds. Then, water them until the soil is moist (but don’t drown them).
Once you’ve planted cucumber seeds in the soil, you won’t have to do very much maintenance on them before you have vegetables ripe for picking. You have to make sure they receive an inch of water every week, but, other than that, you don’t have to do anything else.
If you do fail to water them or drown them in it instead of just giving them a little moisture, you might discover a dead plant.
When and How to Harvest Cucumbers
So, you’ve planted the cucumbers and they’ve successfully grown, but how do you know when they’re ready?
You should use a sharp knife to pluck them from the plant while they’re still small and feel pretty tender. If you harvest them when it’s still early in the day, this will encourage more growth.
You should pluck often so that more vegetables will grow. The more practiced you get at growing cucumbers, the more you’ll be able to eye them up and tell when they’re ready.
Once you’ve harvested the cucumbers, you usually have around a week before they go bad. If you slice into one but don’t use the whole cucumber, wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge to prevent it from going bad quickly. This is good practice even if you haven’t cut into a cucumber yet, as it’ll help draw out its lifespan.
If you want your cucumbers to last even longer, try freezing them. Make sure you freeze them in a sealed container and give them time to defrost before you want to use them.
Some potential issues with growing cucumbers include pests that can cause mildew to appear on the plants, or pests simply eating away at your vegetables. Find plant-safe deterrents and use a fungicide (on Amazon) at the first sign of mildew to try and prevent the plant from dying.
Cucumber beetles are particularly notorious for getting to this vegetable (hence the name), but slugs and aphids can also be an issue. Straw at the base of your plant should help keep slugs away.
There could also be pollination problems. Cucumbers need pollen, but bees will often come to the cucumbers and take that pollen away. Using a pesticide can help solve this problem.
Cucumbers are an easy vegetable to grow for those who are just getting into gardening, or even those who’ve been doing it for a long time and just want an easy project.
Vining cucumber plants in particular will produce a lot of vegetables as long as you keep watering and harvesting them, so plant the seeds and watch your cucumbers grow!