- How Long Does It Take to Grow Cucumbers from Seed?
- When the Days to Maturity Count Begins
- Shortening Your Time to Harvest
- 1. Determine the best place for your garden.
- 2. Get the soil right.
- 3. Plan your garden’s layout.
- 4. Pick what you want to grow.
- 5. Water the garden as often as needed to maintain a uniform moisture supply.
- Becky Griffin
- All About Cucumbers
- Can I Grow Cucumbers?
- Cucumber Plant History
- Is Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable?
- Should I Grow Cucumber Seeds Or Plants?
- How To Cultivate Cucumber
- Cucumber Growing Tips
- Cucumber Insects & Diseases
- Cucumber Harvesting Tips
- Cucumber Recipes & Storage
- Tips For Growing Cucumbers
- Types of Cucumbers
- Starting Cucumbers
- Where to Plant Cucumbers
- Want to Learn About Fertilizing and Watering Cucumbers?
- Top Tips for the Best Fertilizer for Cucumbers
- Our Recommendation: Gardener’s Energy Buttons
- Using Cucumber Fertilizer: What, When and How
How Long Does It Take to Grow Cucumbers from Seed?
When the Days to Maturity Count Begins
A cucumber’s days to maturity number indicates when the plant will have harvestable fruit. It lets you know how long your growing season needs to be. But it doesn’t tell you when to start counting, because that depends on how you handle the seeds.
Seeds Started Indoors
For seeds you start indoors, start counting the days to maturity when they’re planted in the cuke patch.
Expert gardener’s tip: Because indoor-started seedlings usually need a hardening-off period before they’re ready for the garden, it’s best to add about a week to their days to maturity number.
Directly Sown Seeds
If you sow your cuke seeds directly in the garden, begin the count when they germinate (sprout). The soil’s temperature determines how soon that happens:
Other Factors Affecting a Cucumber’s Growth Rate
Weather is the biggest factor dictating how fast your cucumbers grow. Days below 70°F followed by nights below 60°F slow or even stunt their growth. Excessive or inadequate rain is another stress, especially after the vines begin flowering. Cucumber beetle damage to the leaves, flowers and roots can also delay things.
Shortening Your Time to Harvest
While you can’t control the weather, you can take other steps to speed your cucumber’s growth:
- Warm the soil by covering it with black plastic before planting in spring.
- Keep track of your weekly rainfall with a rain gauge. When it measures less than 1 inch, water with a drip system or soaker hose. One inch equals 6 gallons per 1 square foot of soil.
- Drape your young cukes with row covers to keep cucumber beetles away. They’re made from permeable fabric that lets sun, air and moisture reach the plants.
Finally, remember that days to maturity numbers are only guidelines. Don’t panic if your cukes seem to be dragging their roots. Given regular TLC, they’ll come through!
By Rashid Nuri of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Ag
Now is the time to plan and build an organic spring garden at your home. What is the first step?
1. Determine the best place for your garden.
The garden should be located in an area that is fully exposed to the sun. You will pay more attention to your garden the nearer it is to the house. Make sure that water is readily available.
2. Get the soil right.
The single most important factor in creating a successful garden is soil preparation. I call it dirt making. If you create good healthy soil, the plants which grow in that soil will also be healthy. Healthy plants are disease resistant.
Begin soil preparation by gently turning the soil. If this is the first time the land is being used to grow food, a tiller may prove helpful. Too much tillage destroys soil structure. Subsequent soil preparation can be done with a spade or garden fork.
After opening the soil add copious amounts of organic material such as compost, leaf mold, well rotted sawdust or decomposed animal manure. You can make your own compost or purchase it from most garden supply stores.
Compost is the key to successful gardening. Compost added to gardens improves soil structure, texture, aeration, and water retention. When mixed with compost, clay soils are lightened, and sandy soils retain water better. Mixing compost with soil also contributes to erosion control, soil fertility, proper pH balance, and healthy root development in plants.
3. Plan your garden’s layout.
Make beds in the garden that are separated by walkways. You do not want to walk in the area that you plant with vegetables. Walking on a vegetable bed compacts the soil and retards plant growth.
Utilize the garden space wisely. Select crops you will eat and enjoy. You must like what you plant or the garden space and the food will both be wasted. Decide what you want to plant and where you will plant it. Know what you will plant after the spring season crop is finished. Southern exposure has the most light. Tall crops should be planted on the north and west side of the garden to prevent shading of smaller plants.
4. Pick what you want to grow.
Plant cool season crops at this time of year. Broccoli, cauliflower, mustards, collards, lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy vegetables as well as beets, turnips and carrots These crops require shorter days and cooler soil to thrive. Many varieties survive cold and frost, which is the reason we can grow greens throughout the winter in the south.
Use known or recommended cultivars for your main planting. Always buy good quality open- pollinated or heirloom seed from a reputable company. In my opinion, you will be better off not buying hybrid or genetically modified seed. Many nurseries have transplant seedlings available that save time.
The dates below are for early season crops planted in metropolitan Atlanta, which is located in USDA plant hardiness Zone 7 or, arguably, Zone 8. Check with your local extension agent or garden nursery for planting dates where you live.
Spring Vegetables And Their Planting Dates
- Asparagus, Jan 15 – Mar 1
- Beets, Feb 15 – April 1
- Broccoli, Feb 15 – Mar 15
- Cabbage, Jan 15 – Mar 15
- Carrots, Jan 15 – Mar 29
- Cauliflower, Mar 1 – Apr 1
- Collards, Feb 15 – Mar 15
- Kale, Feb 1 – Mar 10
- Lettuce, Jan 15 – Mar 1
- Mustard, Jan 15 – Apr 1
- Onions, Jan 1 – Mar 15
- Peas, Jan 15 – Feb 15
- Potatoes, Irish, Jan 15 – Mar 15
- Radish, Jan 15 – Apr 1
- Spinach, Jan 15 – Mar 15
- Turnips, Jan 15 – Apr 1
You can plant these cool season crops over the next few months. Then it will be time to begin planting summer crops. Watch the moon and learn its phases. My own experience demonstrates that things grown above the ground should be planted during the waxing moon, and things that grow below the ground on the waning moon.
5. Water the garden as often as needed to maintain a uniform moisture supply.
In the absence of rain, an inch of water once a week will probably be adequate for heavier soils. Light sandy soils might require water more often. It is best to water early in the morning so foliage will dry quickly. This helps prevent diseases.
Good luck with your garden! Growing food can be a most rewarding and very spiritual experience. Not only will you benefit from consuming the healthful food you produce, but you will also bring yourself closer to the ultimate realities of creation.
Fresh slicing cucumbers are a favorite summer crop. Extension Horticulturist, Robert Westerfield, has written a helpful circular called “Growing Cucumbers in the Home Garden” that will get you started.
Slicing cucumbers may have long vines. With proper planning, and a few tips, you can have manage cucumber vines in the community garden. There are a few cultivars that are bush-type cultivars, meaning they won’t take as much space. Salad Bush Hybrid is advertised to take up about 1/3rd the area of a traditional vining cucumber. Bush Crop and Fanfare are also commonly grown bush cucumbers. Realize that they will still have some vines.
If you want to try the vining cultivars you can stake or trellis them. Wire-grid growing panels are perfect for cucumbers. Or, recycle a portion of fencing. Trellising cucumbers has the added advantage of getting the fruit off of the ground which helps prevent fruit rots. This also allows for increased air flow around the plant leaves which may cut down on disease problems. Be conscientious of your fellow gardeners by not creating unwanted shade for your neighbor with your trellis.
Depending on how large your cucumber fruit matures, it may need support on the trellis. Old panty hose or onion bags are perfect for this. As the fruit becomes big, gently cup the cucumber in the hose or onion bag and tie it to the trellis. Be careful not to bruise the fruit or tear it from the vine. Burpless hybrid, Straight Eight, Sweet Success, Sweet Slice, Diva, and Marketmore 76 are good vining cultivars for Georgia.
Community gardeners list past poor fruit quality as a reason not to grow cucumbers. If you know a bit about the biology of the cucumber plant you might have better success. Cucumbers have two kinds of flowers. They have male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers. Staminate flowers do not bear fruit. Bees move pollen from staminate (male) flowers to the
pistillate flowers for pollination and subsequent fruit production. This means if you, or your fellow gardeners, are using broad-spectrum insecticides you may be reducing the quality and quantity of your cucumbers by killing possible pollinators. It is possible to hand pollinate cucumbers if you see few bees.
You may have heard of gynoecious cucumbers. These produce mostly female flowers. They often have a heavier yield because of the increased number of female flowers. I’ve seen posts around the web suggesting that the few male flowers be removed. Don’t do that! It takes male and female cucumber flowers to make fruit! General Lee and Calypso are two gynoecious types worth a try.
Be bold and try cucumber planting. Your salads will be the better for it! For more information on growing cucumbers with success contact your local UGA Extension Agent.
- Recent Posts
Community and School Garden Coordinator at UGA Extension Becky Griffin helps school and community gardeners succeed! This includes organizing school garden teacher training with county agents, assisting schools with STE(A)M goals, and creating resources on starting and sustaining successful gardens.
Becky is a Georgia Certified Beekeeper and works with community and school gardeners to increase beneficial insect habitat.In 2019, she will coordinate the Great Georgia Pollinator Census (https://GGaPC.org).Ask her about it!
Latest posts by Becky Griffin (see all)
- The Seed Catalogs are Here! – January 8, 2020
- Plant Reproduction Basics – November 20, 2019
- Increase Your School Garden Scope by Saving Seeds – November 12, 2019
All About Cucumbers
Can I Grow Cucumbers?
No summer garden is complete without cucumbers. They are very easy to grow and are very prolific. Planted in a section of the garden that receives full sun and has an evenly moist, fertile soil, success in growing cucumbers is almost guaranteed.
Like other summer vine crops, cucumbers are heavy feeders and demand a steady supply of water. Work plenty of organic matter (compost, well-rotted manure) into the soil before planting to help it retain moisture and to provide the nutrients the cucumber plants will need throughout the season. A soil pH of 6.8 or higher is preferred.
If space is limited, cucumbers will do just fine on a patio or deck if it receives full sun. Bush cucumber varieties like ‘Sald Bush’,’ ‘Bush Champion’ and ‘Picklebush’ can be grown in containers. A five-gallon or larger pot can easily support one or two plants and provide fresh cukes all summer long!
Cucumber Plant History
Although the cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is thought to have originated in northwest India where it has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, the wild ancestors of the fruit have been a part of the human diet since almost the origin of man. Excavations near Thailand revealed cucumbers were eaten as early as 9750 BC. Pickling was certainly invented early as well. By the time of the Pharaohs, Egyptians ate brined cukes at nearly every meal. In the Bible, the Israelites in the wilderness complained to Moses that they missed the cucumbers they had enjoyed in Egypt.
Is Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable?
In a supreme court case in 1983 (Nix vs hedden), it was deemed that cucumber was to be legally categorized and taxed as a vegetable. The supreme court made this decision based on the usage of cucumbers, which was similar to that of vegetables such as: carrots, potatoes, parsnips, cauliflowers, cabbage, lettuce, beets, and celery.
But is it really a vegetable, or is cucumber a fruit? Cucumbers fit the typical definition of a fruit meaning that they develop when the flower is fertilized and also contain the seeds of the plant. Cucumbers are even part of the same genus (cucumus) as Cantaloupes which are definitely a fruit. However, according the supreme court in 1983, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other “fruits of the vine” that are grown in kitchen gardens and used in main courses in meals, rather than in desserts as fruit are, are to be considered vegetables.
Should I Grow Cucumber Seeds Or Plants?
Like other cucurbits, cucumbers don’t like to have their roots disturbed and can be tricky to transplant. However, if you want an early start on the season, it’s worth the risk to start a few cucumber plants indoors in peat pots about two or three weeks before setting out. Because cucumbers are easily injured by frost, planting should be delayed until the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees and all danger of frost is past. This is often at least two weeks after the last frost date.
The preferred method of cucumber planting is direct seeding in the garden after the soil has warmed as the seeds will not germinate in a soil chillier than 60 degrees. Just push two or three cucumber seeds an inch into the soil, spacing the plantings 18 to 36 inches apart. (Bush varieties will tolerate a closer spacing.) If the soil is moist and warm, the seedlings will pop out of the ground in a matter of days.
How To Cultivate Cucumber
Cucumbers really don’t need much attention once established in the garden. Here are three tips to ensure a great harvest.
Add cukes as succession plantings. Because cucumbers crave heat, they can follow cool spring crops of peas, spinach, and lettuce.
Provide steady moisture. A continuous water supply is necessary for the best quality fruits. A drip irrigation system is ideal in the cucumber patch. If this is not possible, water deeply once a week, applying at least one inch of water. Frequent but shallow watering will reduce overall yields.
Cucumber Growing Tips
To improve overall cucumber production, consider using the following two techniques. Use black or brown plastic mulch. Because a warm, moist soil is essential for top production, use dark plastic mulch on the cucumber bed. This will speed up growth and increase yields by conserving soil moisture and maintaining a high soil temperature. The mulch will also keep weeds at bay.
Cucumber Insects & Diseases
The major insect pests that attack cucumbers include cucumber beetles, aphids, and spider mites. Cucumber beetles can cause the most damage, particularly to seedlings, and carry wilt disease from plant to plant. A floating row cover placed immediately over emerging or transplanted seedlings will decrease cucumber beetle damage by keeping the moths from laying eggs on the plants. Be sure to remove the cover when cucumber plants blossom to allow pollination. Applications of pyrethrum or rotenone will also significantly reduce pest damage.
Cucumber Harvesting Tips
Like most vegetables, cucumbers are tender and tastiest when harvested young before their seeds are fully developed. Slicing cucumber varieties are generally ready for harvest when about six to eight inches long; pickling types at three to five inches. Don’t allow the fruits to become overripe on the vine as this signals to the plant that the seed-development process is nearly complete and it will shut down. Keep mature fruits picked to encourage further production. Harvest the fruits early in the morning before the sun hits the cucumbers for the best flavor and texture.
Cucumber Recipes & Storage
Personally, I think cucumbers are at their best served raw, sliced or grated into salads, dressed with yogurt or sour cream, or simply eaten whole. Wash and trim the cukes, then cut into spears, slice, or grate just before final preparation. There is no need to peel homegrown cukes (taste and nutritional value suffer) unless the recipe requires peeling. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like a cold cucumber salad – whether it’s German with sour cream, chopped chives, and a sprinkling of paprika or Oriental with raisins, black olives, and chopped water chestnuts.
You can even cook cucumbers in a variety of ways if you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen! Try adding diced cukes to soup, or sauté slices in butter and serve with fresh dill or mint.
Unfortunately, cucumbers don’t store well because of their high water content. The fruits will keep for up to a week in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. For the enormous surplus many of us have in midsummer, pickling cucumbers is the only way to go. Get out your favorite pickling recipes (sweet, sour, sweet and sour) and put up as many as you can store. That way, you can enjoy homegrown cukes throughout the winter and quite possibly into next spring.
Tips For Growing Cucumbers
Cucumbers are great for pickling, tossing in salads, or eating straight off the vine.
Types of Cucumbers
There are two main types of cucumbers: slicing and pickling. Each type comes in several different varieties. The slicing types are long and usually grow to about 6 or 8 inches (15-20 cm.) in length while the pickling types are shorter, reaching around 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm.) once mature.
There are now many bush or compact varieties of cucumbers available that are ideal for growing in limited space.
Cucumbers can be started indoors from seed, either purchased or saved and harvested from previous plants, in peat pots or small flats and transplanted to the garden a couple weeks thereafter but only when all danger of frost has passed. Before you move them to the garden, however, harden the plants off in a protected location to lessen any stress that may occur during transplanting. During cool periods, cucumbers can be covered with plant protectors as well.
Where to Plant Cucumbers
Cucumbers like warm, humid weather; loose, organic soil; and plenty of sunlight. They grow well in most areas of the United States and do especially well in southern regions.
When planting cucumbers, choose a site that has adequate drainage and fertile soil. Good soil will have plenty of organic matter, such as compost. Adding compost to the soil will help get your cucumbers off to a good start, and applying an organic fertilizer, such as manure, will help give the plants nutrients during growth. When you begin preparing the soil, remove any rocks, sticks or other debris and then mix ample amounts of organic matter and fertilizer into the soil.
Cucumbers may be planted in hills or rows about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) deep and thinned as needed. Since cucumbers are a vine crop, they usually require a lot of space. In large gardens, cucumber vines may spread throughout rows; within smaller gardens, cucumbers may be trained for climbing on a fence or trellis. Training cucumbers on a fence or trellis will reduce space and lift the fruit off the soil. This method also can provide your garden with a neater appearance. The bush or compact varieties are quite suitable for growing in small spaces or even in containers.
Want to Learn About Fertilizing and Watering Cucumbers?
Most experienced vegetable gardeners know that keeping cucumber plants adequately watered is the key to high quality fruit production. Cucumbers have a very high water content. It’s impossible for the plants to produce lots of cucumbers if they are starved for water.
A cucumber plant requires about an inch of water every week to maintain fruit production. If no rain falls in your area, it’s up to you to give your cucumber plants the water they crave. When watering cucumbers, focus your efforts at the base of the main stem. Try to avoid watering the foliage as this may cause diseases to develop. It’s usually a good idea to water in the morning hours. That way, the afternoon sun will evaporate any unused water. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system is ideal, but a simple watering can or jug will also do the job nicely. Make sure to water slowly so that the soil around the base of the plant is not eroded away.
After the cucumber plants have produced blossoms, it may be beneficial to apply a balanced, all purpose fertilizer. An all-purpose water soluble fertilizer will work fine. You can also use a balanced granular fertilizer. When choosing a granular fertilizer, pay attention to the three number code on the bag. Look for 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. These numbers indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium that are contained in that particular bag, respectively. The nitrogen will help the plant foliage grow as much as possible. The phosphate and potassium will help with fruit production. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Most are applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Scatter the granules on the ground around the base of the plant. Avoid letting the granules touch the plant itself, as it may burn or have other adverse effects. Water the fertilizer in well after applying.
You can also use a water-soluble product like Miracle Gro. Just mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it when the blossoms first appear. If you are lucky enough to have your plants survive long enough, you can fertilize them again about a month after the first fruits are produced.
If you intend to grow cucumbers organically, several natural fertilizer products are available at your local garden center. Another option is to work a fair amount of compost or organic material into the soil prior to planting.
Now that you’re done fertilizing and watering cucumbers, it’s time to think about harvesting.
Top Tips for the Best Fertilizer for Cucumbers
Other Things to Consider
If you plant your cucumbers in well-drained soil enhanced by fertilizer, you’re not quite on the pathway to growing perfect cucumbers every time. There are a few more metrics you must consider if you’re gunning for results to make you happy.
For instance, where you plant your crop is essential. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure the spot you choose receives a full amount of sunlight, and that each cucumber vine is spaced 6 to 10 inches apart from each other. The former will promote good growth, while the latter will minimize vine entanglement.
When you plant the cucumber seeds in the fertilizer-rich soil, you’ll want to make sure they’re at a depth of about 2 inches, and then you’ll want to work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep. You may want to consider covering the seeds with netting until they start to grow to ensure pests don’t dig them out and eat them.
And while it almost goes without saying that you should water your cucumbers, it’s important that you remain consistent with the process. If you don’t, your cucumbers may develop a bitter taste to them.
You can expect to reap the rewards of your hard labor when the cucumbers reach about 6 to 8 inches long. If you’re harvesting dills, the length will be 4 to 6 inches. If you’re trying your hand at pickles, you can pluck them when they grow to 2 inches in length.
Our Recommendation: Gardener’s Energy Buttons
Working with fertilizer shouldn’t have to be a chore. And while it may be a bit funny to think of fertilizer as being technologically advanced, the fact is that the substance has evolved to make its usage less time-consuming and more intuitive.
We like the Gardner’s Energy Buttons for this very reason. Its slow-release pellets of aged manure do a lot of the timing work that you would have to worry about back in the day. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of mixing fertilizer and whatnot, this can make your job a whole lot easier.
This doesn’t take you completely off the hook, of course – there is still plenty of things you need to do to your cucumber plant to ensure a proper, satisfying harvest. However, using a technically advanced fertilizer such as this one can go a long way in helping you meet that goal. And that alone should make exploring the world of fertilizer worthwhile.
Using Cucumber Fertilizer: What, When and How
What to Feed Your Cukes
Cucumbers grow best in soil enhanced with organic fertilizer because organic fertilizer does things for the soil that a synthetic one simply can’t:
- Organic fertilizer releases its nutrients slowly, feeding your plants much longer than a synthetic one.
- Organic fertilizer has none of the mineral salts that burn young cucumber roots .
- Organic fertilizer nurtures the soil microbes that break down nutrients for easy uptake. And it improves the soil’s texture with spaces for beneficial bacteria and air pockets to supply the roots and earthworms with oxygen.
To get your cukes off to the best possible start, work plenty of organic fertilizer into the soil about a month before planting. Good choices include organic compost available from most garden supply stores or — if you can get it – well-aged manure from organically-fed livestock.
Preparing the Bed
Loosen the top 10 to 12 inches of the cuke bed with a spade and then work in a 2-inch layer of your chosen fertilizer. Mound the mixed soil in hills and mix another 2-inch layer into the surface. The fertilizer slowly releases its nutrients so that after you plant, your cukes will have a steady food supply.
The Mid-Season Meal
The first step to growing cucumbers with the heaviest harvest is to fertilize for the heaviest bloom. As soon as the first sunny-yellow cucumber flower appears, dose your cukes with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
Picking the Best Balanced Fertilizer
A balanced fertilizer is one with equal N-P-K (nitrogen-potassium-phosphorous) numbers on the label. A granular, slow-release formula will feed your cukes through the blooming and fruiting phase without burning their roots.
Expert gardener’s tip: For the best results, use a granular fertilizer formulated with calcium, sulfur and magnesium for healthy, chlorophyll-rich leaves. If it contains bacteria and humic acid, even better. They’ll make the nutrients more absorbable.
Applying Granular Fertilizer
The application rate for most granular fertilizers is between 1 and 2 tablespoons (14.8 and 29.6 ml) per plant, or 1 to 2 pounds (1.1 to 2.2 kilograms) for each 25-foot (7.62 meter) row. To avoid over-fertilizing, however, use the amount recommended on the label. Simply spread the fertilizer over the soil at least 8 inches (20.3 cm) away from the bases of the cukes, rake it in and water well.