Growing cucumbers in the garden for eating and preserving is easy. You will love the abundance of cucumbers you will have for eating fresh and pickling.
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How to Grow Cucumbers in the Garden
Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. I love growing cucumbers in the garden for eating and preserving because they are so fresh and delicious on a hot summer day. And of course, I love making pickles!
Cucumbers are fast growing and are one of the first summer crops to really take off. There are different ways you can plant cucumbers. Here is the method that I have found to be most successful for growing cucumbers.
I start some plants indoors a couple of weeks before I want to put them outside. Cucumbers germinate quickly, so you will want to start them inside only two to three weeks before your last frost date. If you start cucumbers indoors, make sure to harden them off before planting them in your garden. They do a lot better if they are acclimated to the full sun, temperature and wind of the outdoors.
I also plant some cucumbers directly in the ground once the last frost date has passed. This way I will have a continuous supply of cucumbers throughout the season.
Cucumber Planting Method
Find a place in your garden with full sun. You will want about 6-8 hours of sunlight.
I create a small hill about a foot across and about 6-8 inches high. I place a few seeds in each hill about one inch deep. You will want to have three to four plants per hill.
When I transplant cucumber plants that I started in the greenhouse, I use the same hilling method. It seems to help with drainage and I have had better cucumber harvests since planting this way.
Make sure that you have good soil fertility. This can be done by adding compost, manure or other organic material to your soil.
Cucumbers need plenty of water. Try to get them about an inch or so of water per week. Without adequate water, your cucumbers will not have as delicious of a flavor.
Trellising for Vining Cucumbers
Another must-have for cucumber plants is a trellis. There are bush varieties of cucumbers, but vining cucumbers love to climb. Having vining cucumbers trellised makes them easier to harvest. I currently use cow panels, but I have used chicken wire in the past. You could even use a pole or a wooden trellis. There are all kinds of trellis options.
Companion Planting for Cucumbers
Another thing to think about when you grow cucumbers in the garden is companion planting. With companion planting, you are planting plants together that benefit each other in some way. Here are the companion plants I have with my cucumbers:
Sunflowers: Sunflowers are great for a natural trellis. They also provide some shade during the hottest parts of the day.
Radishes: Radishes are supposed to help repel cucumber beetles. I plant a few seeds in each hill. You will not want to harvest the radishes. Rather, leave them to flower in the hills.
Herbs: I have dill and borage planted with my cucumbers. Both of these attract beneficial insects. They both also go really well with cucumbers
When harvesting cucumbers, try not to pluck them off the vine. It's better to use scissors, clippers or a knife to cut them off.
My Favorite Cucumbers to Grow
This year, I chose a few varieties of cucumber that I have grown in the past along with a couple of new varieties.
I like to have different kinds of cucumbers for different uses. I buy all of my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, so this is where I got all of these varieties.
For fresh eating, I have Japanese Long cucumbers. These are mild and have few seeds. The seedless varieties are sometimes called “burpless” cucumbers. These get to be up to ten inches long. They stay tender and have thin skins.
I have a variety called Muncher cucumber. These are versatile because they can be eaten fresh or be used for pickling. I generally pick them small and eat them fresh. These are another burpless variety. They are sweet and delicious.
Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers are fun to grow. They have small vines that are more delicate than regular cucumbers, but they grow like crazy. The fruit looks like a little watermelon. They have a mild flavor with a slight lemon taste. They can be pickled, but I usually just snack on them in the garden.
The Chicago Pickling cucumber is a great pickling cucumber. Any type of cucumber can be pickled, but there are certain varieties that stay more crunchy and absorb the flavors better. I prefer to use the pickling cucumbers for that purpose. These definitely have to be watched closely because they grow so quickly.
Finally, I have the Kish White cucumber. I got some free seeds for these from the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival. This is my first year growing them. So far, they have a mild flavor, but I still feel like I need more experience with them.
As you can see, growing cucumbers in the garden is easy and fun.
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Garden Clippers These are like the garden clippers I have to cut my cucumbers so the vines don't get pulled on.
Boots It's always nice to have some boots for the garden.
Basket Here's a cute basket for collecting your cucumber harvest.
Large Tub Here's a larger tub for your big harvests.
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