Growing cucumber in container

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Cucumbers For Pots: Learn About Planting Cucumbers In A Container

Summer cucumbers, with their lively flavor and crisp texture, are fun additions to the garden. However, the often viney plants can take up a lot of room and reduce the space available for other types of plants. Planting cucumbers in a container conserves garden space, while still providing you with a good growing environment for the fruit.

Cucumbers for Pots

Some varieties grow better than others in containers. Excellent options in selecting cucumbers for pots are the bush varieties such as Hybrid, Salad and Picklebush. These will still require some staking but have a more robust plant that adapts well to containers.

Cucumbers need a male and female flower to pollinate unless they are parthenocarpic, which means they set fruit without pollination. A small parthenocarpic variety perfect for container grown cucumbers is Arkansas Little Leaf. Bush Baby is a very small 2- to 3-foot vine, but it

requires numerous plants to ensure pollination.

Fruit yield can be just as high with container grown cucumbers. Just research the type of fruit you want (burpless, pickling) and make sure its maturity day matches your zone.

Planting Cucumbers in a Container

Growing cucumbers in pots hydroponically has been a common commercial method of cultivation. The home gardener can mimic the process or simply grow them in a container with soil. The best results will come from healthy plant starts rather than seed, however.

Make a soil mixture specific to cucumber needs with one part each of compost, potting soil, perlite and peat moss. Container grown cucumbers need plenty of water, but you must ensure they have good drainage as well. You’ll need a large container with several drainage holes. You may either use a plastic or ceramic pot for planting cucumbers in a container, but it should be at least 12 inches across and 8 inches deep.

Growing Cucumbers in Pots

Container cucumbers are every bit as crisp and fresh as those grown in the ground. Growing cucumbers in pots allows you to start the plants earlier than those planted in soil. You can move young plants to a greenhouse or sheltered area if necessary.

Container cucumbers should be set out in pots in early May in most areas. Put a stake or trellis in the pot when the cucumber is young. You can tie the vines to the support as the plant grows.

Keep the pot in a brightly lit area with temperatures 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.). Watch for bugs and fertilize with a low nitrogen food.

How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 60 F to 90 F – Do not plant until soil reaches 65 F.

Days to emergence: 3 to 10 – May germinate in 3 days at 80 F to 90 F. Germination may take 10 days or longer at cooler temperatures.

Maintenance and care: 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 4 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.

Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require fertile soil, nitrogen fertilizer, and/or additions of high-N organic matter sources. Pale, yellowish leaves indicate nitrogen deficiency. Leaf bronzing is a sign of potassium deficiency.

To reduce pest and disease pressure, do not plant cucumbers where you’ve grown them in the last two years. Choose resistant varieties to prevent many diseases and/or trellis vining varieties to encourage good air circulation.

Pests: Stripped or spotted cucumber beetles – Construct tents of fine nettting or cheesecloth or use floating row cover over young transplants and seedlings. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control of beetles is important to prevent bacterial wilt in cucumbers but less important in other vine crops.

Aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.

Squash vine borer – Remove borers by hand and destroy. Destroy crop residues after harvest.

Diseases: Bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) – Remove and discard or destroy infested plants. Control cucumber beetles that spread the bacteria. (See striped or spotted cucumber beetles.) Control as soon as they appear. Some varieties are less susceptible to bacterial wilt but may not be readily available.

Powdery mildew – Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to improve air circulation. In autumn, rake and dispose of all fallen or diseased leaves and fruit. Plant resistant varieties such as Marketmore 76, Slicemaster and Raider.

Scab – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts will dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air circulation.

Cucumber mosaic virus – Remove and discard or destroy infested plants. Plant resistant varieties such as Pacer, Marketmore 76, Dasher II, Slicemaster, Spacemaster and Sweet Success. Manage aphids that spread virus. Eliminate perennial weeds such as milkweed, marshcress and yellow rocket; and avoid planting next to susceptible ornamentals.

Other diseases:
Anthracnose
Leaf spot
Downy mildew

Our Top 10 Container Gardening Tips

Most plants aren’t fussy about the type of pot they grow in. All they want is enough space to spread their roots and a few good drainage holes to allow excess water to drain. Pots come in a variety of materials, such as terra-cotta, ceramic, wood, and plastic. All of them work equally well, although terra-cotta pots have a tendency to dry out faster than plastic or ceramic, so you’ll need to water them more often. If you buy a new terra-cotta pot, soak it in a pail of water for a day or two to hydrate it before filling with soil. Some plastic pots might need drainage holes drilled in the bottom. Holes should be at least 1/2 inch wide; smaller holes might clog with soil and prevent the water from draining.

2. Choose the Right Soil

Fill your containers with a quality commercial potting soil. Never use soil directly from your garden because, when dry, it will harden into a solid mass. Quality potting soil should include generous helpings of some of the following amendments: peat moss, compost, perlite, vermiculite, and/or rotted manure. Inexpensive potting soils are not always a bargain, so read the label before you buy.

3. Pick Healthy Plants

You can grow almost anything you want in a container — even trees and shrubs will thrive in a large enough pot. Most people prefer to grow flowers, vegetables, or herbs for their patio, porch, deck, or terrace. Enjoy an edible banquet by mixing a few of each type in the same pot. Strawberries and lettuce, for example, taste as good as they look and make great companions for sun-loving annual and perennial flowers.

Learn how to grow your own salad container garden.

4. Match Light Conditions

When selecting plants, read the plant tags before you buy so you know whether they grow best in sun or shade. You don’t want to mix sun- and shade-loving flowers in the same pot. Top annuals for sun include petunias, geraniums, calibrachoa, and verbena. Some good annuals for shade include begonia, caladium, impatiens, and Torenia. All vegetables and herbs need full sun.

Browse plants that work well in containers in our Plant Encyclopedia.

5. Plant in Layers

For a gorgeous layered look, be sure to include a tall, showy plant (thriller), a bushy medium-size plant (filler), and a trailing blooming plant (spiller) in your containers.

Container-Gardening Tip: Select varieties that complement each other in color and leaf form, too. There are many plants that are more prized for their gorgeous foliage than they are for their flowers.

6. Water Frequently

Container plants require more frequent watering than those growing directly in the garden. Water whenever the soil surface feels dry to the touch. During hot, sunny periods you’ll probably have to irrigate every day. This is especially important for hanging baskets that dry out faster because they are buffeted by the wind. You can use a watering can, garden hose, or install a drip irrigation system with a timer that waters your plants automatically every day.

7. Fertilize Regularly

To keep flowers and vegetables in top form all summer, you’ll need to fertilize them. Some potting soils have slow-release fertilizer already mixed in, but it’s still a good idea to add a few drops of liquid fertilizer every time you water. Flowers and vegetables are heavy feeders and will thrive with an extra dose of plant food.

8. Remove Faded Blooms

Annual and perennial flowers will look better when their old, faded blooms are removed. This process, called “deadheading,” will encourage a whole new crop of flowers to form. On larger species, such as geraniums, simply clip away the dead flower heads with your fingers or pruning shears. For annuals with tiny flowers, such as sweet alyssum, shear back the entire plant by about 1/3 with scissors or lawn clippers.

Check out this trick to keep your flowers blooming.

9. Renew and Replace

Even with excellent care, some annuals and perennials will begin to look tired by late summer. Instead of trying to revive them, carefully remove the plants from the pot and pop in one or two replacements to give your container a second life. Most garden centers offer replacement annuals in mid to late summer.

10. Clean Up Before Winter

A hard frost marks the end of the gardening season across much of the country. Once your annuals and vegetables have died, toss them on your compost pile and empty your containers. Ceramic and terra-cotta pots can crack if left outdoors over the winter with soil in them. If you want to save any perennials or roses you have growing in containers, plant them directly in the garden now.

more container gardening tips

  • By Doug Jimerson

Last summer I decided I wanted to have a garden. Knowing that there was a possibility of moving to our new homestead, it became evident that having a traditional or raised bed garden was not going to cut it that year. So I decided to container garden.

Container gardening has the advantage of being able to pick up your produce and take them where ever you are going. It also works well for people in urban areas who live in apartments that have little to no yard.

After doing research, I was surprised to find out how many things I could grow in containers and the fact that it was relatively simple to do so. After a year of experimenting and learning, here’s what I have learned.

What First Time Container Gardeners Needs to Know

1. Lots of variety

I’m not kidding when I say there are a lot of things that you can grow in containers. Did you know you could grow lemon and lime trees in containers? Yep.

Dwarf lemon trees can be maintained indoors and you do not have to get the standard Meyer lemons but could opt for the ones that are as big as oranges and sweeter than the traditional store bought kind. Consider me sold.

There are also your standard tomatoes, peppers from bell to banana, basil, mint, just about any variety of berries, and much more.

2. Prepare and plan

Look at what you eat. What in your regular meals can you grow in a container? Is there something that you would like to try? Check that out.

Once you have done those things, make a list. When you do this, it ensures that you will not go to the garden center unprepared. I consider this to be a crucial step because you will go to the garden center and either not buy anything at all or do like I always end up doing and come home with your trunk and your backseat full!

3. Keep a Notebook

Last summer I had one heck of a time with my tomatoes. At the start they were great, then something happened (I don’t remember what), then we had tomato worms, then we dealt with them being in too much sun.

You see that “something happened”? I should have kept a notebook.

One of my friends at work told me they had started a gardening notebook and I thought that was a great idea. There are some pretty cute ones you can find online or just keep a simple one, whichever works best for you.

4. Understand the Type of Containers you can Purchase

The majority of my produce last summer were grown in a topsy turvy container. I had two big standing ones that held banana peppers, jalapenos, and my basil. Another held tomatoes and cilantro. And then there were the ones that were designed to just hold bell peppers and just hold strawberries.

All of our topsy-turvy containers were bought on sale from Big Lots during the fall.

The terra cotta pots are holding the blueberries. I opted for a much sturdier, long-lasting pot for these as I intended to keep them for multiple years. Looking back, I should have done this with the strawberries.

Be creative when it comes to your pots. My girls have painted the terra cotta pots. You can use plastic buckets as well.

Another thing to note is that terra cotta does not like cold weather. On the rare occasion that the temperature dropped below freezing where I live, I made sure I brought the blueberry bush into our garage.

5. Understand that Plants Die

Although not entirely plant related I feel this story sums up a part of life that most people are not willing to admit. The other day a student of mine was talking about how they were good at sewing. I, being the teacher, did not bat an eyelash when I said, “I’m good at seam ripping”.

When you grow plants, sometimes they die. It’s a part of it. It doesn’t mean you stink at gardening, it means something happened. Hopefully, you can figure out what that something is, learn from it, pick yourself up and try again. After all, you’ve got to eat!

6. Make Sure Your Pots Have Adequate Drainage

If you do not have enough holes in your containers, the plants will sit in the water they did not absorb. Just like with other things, this water will eventually cause the plant to rot and die.

Many store-bought containers still do not have adequate drainage. All you have to do though is drill, punch or carve a bigger hole in the container.

7. How to make room for vine produce

The idea of growing pumpkins in a container is a bit overwhelming but with some creative thought, it can work.

For one, choose a smaller variety. These varieties are good for painting and then cooking for pumpkin pie or whatever your pumpkin heart desires (there are so many different varieties of pumpkin stuff these days).

Next, pick a big pot that holds at least ten gallons. Then train them up the trellis. To make sure they have enough grip, I highly recommend cloth on your trellis.

For green beans, if you live in an apartment you could choose to put a tomato cage and add twine to the cage for the green beans to grow. I have also seen people take two different pots and make a bridge between the two that the green beans grow up. It is so pretty!

8. Choose Good Potting Soil

Good soil should have peat moss, perlite, and compost. All soil is not equal so don’t opt for the cheapest variety if it does not have these items in them.

You could also make your own soil by composting.

9. Look at the Sun

Knowing how much sun your produce is going to need, is important and many people tend to overestimate how much sun their plants are actually getting.

If you live in an apartment with a lot of shade you will do better to grow your lettuce outside and your tomatoes inside in an alternative lighting situation.

If you are not sure how much sun your land gets, use a sun calculator to help ensure you get the right information. Naturally, you want to be successful in your gardening and this is one way to ensure that!

10. Look into Combination Gardening

Did you know you can grow multiple items in one container? Yes. A great example of this is a herb container.

Be sure to do your research though because there are some plants that like having their own space. For example, mint will take over an entire pot or an entire (regular) garden; therefore, it is always best to let mint live by themselves!

Another reason to do your research, is because some like more sun than others.

11. Save Your Plant Tags

I had read this somewhere and thought it was very useful info, yet for some reason only managed to do that with my Coolepenos. Coolepenos supposedly have the taste of jalapenos without the spice.

Anyways, I added the ticket to my Coolepenos and then put everything else in without adding the plant tag. For about six weeks I knew what nothing in that topsy-turvy was except for my Coolepenos and the basil (because of the very distinct smell of basil). Lesson learned and I hope you learned as well.

Also, if you have the time you can decorate your own tags. My tag stayed colorful throughout the summer so I was happy with it. If I need to get the kids busy one day, we might create our own.

12. Container Plants Love Water

Gardens that are growing directly in the ground have the benefit of having water from other sources down below. Container plants don’t get that benefit. Once the surface of the soil gets dry, it’s time to water them again.

Also, if they have a good ventilation system (through holes on the bottom) do not worry about them getting too wet either. They will get just the amount they need and then share the rest with whatever is under the holes.

During the hotter days in the summer watering daily will become a necessity. Don’t stress about it. When my girls came home from school they would water the garden. Once summer was in full swing it became my 10 am ritual.

13. Get a Bigger Pot Than It Needs

I say this because of what I said above. Container plants love water. If they have a container with a lot of soil, guess what that soil is going to do? If you guessed contain water than you are correct!

So, opt for a size bigger when you can and fill it with soil, not other things.

14. Give Them Extra Nutrients

Just as with water, when planted in the ground, there is a good chance the earth is already doing some composting on its own. Being in a container means that the plant does not have access to these extra nutrients; therefore, it is important for the plant to get extra nutrients.

The produce gets extra nutrients from multiple sources. One great source that has already been mentioned, but is worth mentioning again, is compost. This easy item that can be made at home and helps nature take its course.

There are other options as well. For example, tomatoes and other acid-loving produce enjoy coffee grounds so when you are done with your daily dose of caffeine instead of putting the used grounds in the trash put them in a bucket. Stir it when you get home (to help it dry faster, thus avoiding mold) and add it to your tomatoes once a week.

If you are worried about blossom end rot, add washed and crushed egg shells to your tomatoes for extra calcium in your plants.

One thing to notice here is doing your research will prevent unneeded purchases.

15. Pick Them if They are Dead

Picking the dead items off your plants will prevent them from growing the healthier produce better, so at a minimum of once a week, pick the dead items off the plants in order to keep the overall plant healthy.

And if you are composting, these dead items will be beneficial as part of your organic matter.

16. Clean up When Winter Comes

If you want to keep your pots long term this is a necessity. Terra cotta pots will crack and break in the freezing weather if they have soil left in them. If you chose to have perennial plants and you live in an apartment then it’s time to bring you produce plants inside. If you live in a home, I recommend putting them in your garage near the edge of the house.

Cleaning up before winter sets in full swing is also important for ascetics as well. Home is a place that you should be proud of, a place that makes you feel your best. Having a clean home will ensure that these feelings happen.

My Final Tip…

My final tip to all our first time container gardeners is to be honest with yourself. If you know you struggle with growing strawberries but can get tomatoes to grow with your eyes closed, why not find a friend to swap produce with?

Maybe you love gardening so much you spend your extra money on it but are ashamed to admit that to your friends. That’s okay, it is what makes you happy.

Gardening is meant to be fun, to bring out something in yourself. Being truthful, open and honest with yourself will make it that much better!

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The best part of container gardening is that you can make it your own. Give it a signature twist with the plants you choose, the vessels you use, the décor you add or all of the above. Besides signing your personal autograph with your selections, planting in containers has many other advantages, too.

If you live in a condo, townhouse or just have a small lot, you can dress your yard or deck up with color and foliage. Beginning gardeners thrive on container gardening because if something dies, you can remove it and it’s not the same as having to completely reseed a lawn if that goes awry. Maybe your patio or deck gets good afternoon sun, but your yard offers too much shade to grow certain sun-loving plants. If you plant perennials (plants that keep growing year after year), you can bring the pots into your home during the cooler months and tend to them there.

Don’t forget to get your kids involved. You can spend more time together and if you grow the right food, they just might develop an interest in eating their vegetables. It’s a win-win.

Now that you know container gardening makes sense, how do you start? To have the most success, you’ll need to do a little research before driving to the nursery.

5 Tips for Container Gardening

1. Select containers with drainage holes so excess water won’t sit in the bottom of the pot. If you don’t see a few holes in the bottom, determine if you can make more either by cutting or drilling them.

2. Keep the soil in the pot by covering the holes with coffee filters, a paper towel, newspaper or window screening, but never use gravel or rocks.

3. Mix a slow-release fertilizer into your potting soil before planting.

4. Choose plants for the same pot with similar moisture requirements.

5. Vary the plants in the same pot with one upright, tall variety, one of medium height and a trailing vine of some sort. Place the tall plant in the back, mid-height ones in the middle and let the vines cascade over the pot’s edges.

6 Container Garden Decorating Tricks

6. Stagger pots on a ladder. Browse second-hand stores to locate a wooden ladder. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you can cover up imperfections with containers or vines.

7. Recycle old barrels. From wine barrels to nail barrels to kegs and everything in between, these containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Let colorful flowers, greenery or even vegetables take root in casks of your choosing.

8. Reuse old shoes. Drill some holes in the bottom for drainage and plant herbs or succulents in the top.

9. Create baskets of bounty. Find old baskets at thrift stores or yard sales, line with clear plastic (like the dry cleaners use), cut holes in it and you’re ready to add potting soil.

10. Make a mini-garden using a bird bath or water fountain. Use small plants, ferns, moss, driftwood, rocks and even tiny gardening décor.

11. Hang it up. Containers don’t all have to be on the ground. Vary your plantings with some hanging baskets for a burst of color at eye level or higher.

12. Cheat if you must. Nurseries have already done the work for you. Buy a fully planted pot or hanging basket and you’ve got a great start to your container gardening hobby.

  • 10 Herbs That Naturally Repel Bugs
  • How to Choose the Right Fertilizer for Your Garden

Growing cucumbers

About cucumbers

Before buying cucumber seed, check that they’re ideal for your needs. Greenhouse cucumbers need to be raised in growing bags under the protection of glass, ridge cucumbers are for growing in a sunny spot in well-drained soil outdoors. Alternatively, pick a variety that can be grown both indoors and out.

What to do

How to sow seeds

  • Sow in early spring if you plan to grow plants in a heated greenhouse or in mid-spring for unheated greenhouses or to go outdoors.
  • Fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with seed compost and make a 2cm (0.7in) hole with a dibber.
  • Push two seeds on their side into the hole. Cover, water and label.
  • Put in a propagator to germinate.

Aftercare

  • Seeds should germinate within a week – when seedlings are 2cm (0.7in) tall, remove the weakest of the pair.
  • Keep plants moist and stake with a small garden cane to provide support.

Planting out

  • If growing indoors, plant two cucumbers in a growing bag at the end of May and support with a garden cane attached to the ceiling of the greenhouse.
  • If your greenhouse is heated, plants can go into bags from March.
  • Plant outdoor cucumbers in early summer. A week or so before planting, acclimatise plants by putting them in a cold frame.
  • Alternatively, stand in the shelter of a shaded wall and cover with fleece. Prepare the soil well, adding plenty of well-rotted manure and space plants 90cm (35in) apart.
  • After planting, the top of the rootball should sit at the same level as the surface of the soil.

Training

  • Regularly secure stems of indoor varieties to the cane and once it has reached the roof, pinch out the tip.
  • Pinch out the shoots from side branches holding fruit, leaving two leaves after each. All female varieties produce fruit on the main stem, so remove laterals altogether.
  • Allow outdoor varieties to trail across the ground like marrows.
  • When plants have five or six leaves, pinch out the growing tip and allow side branches to grow. If stems do not bear flowers, pinch out at the seventh leaf.

Removing flowers

  • Many varieties have both male and female flowers on the same plants.
  • Both should be left on outdoor varieties, but pinch off the male flowers when they appear on indoor varieties to prevent the fruit from becoming bitter.
  • The flowers are easy to tell apart – the female flower has a swelling beneath it that will become a cucumber. Alternatively, choose all female flower varieties.

Watering and feeding

  • Cucumbers must be kept moist, but not soaking, to prevent a check to the fruit.
  • Once the fruit appears, give them a boost by feeding every fortnight with a fertiliser high in potash.

Harvesting

  • Remove fruit by cutting off with a pair of secateurs or a sharp knife.
  • Outdoor picking usually finishes by mid-September, while harvesting indoors can go on into mid October.

Five to try

Pots and containers for growing vegetables and herbs on patios, balconies and roof tops must be large enough for the crop to mature. A container must hold the soil and moisture that deliver nutrients to growing plants allowing them to leaf, flower, and fruit. The pot must be large enough to accommodate the plant’s roots. And a pot should be large enough that the height and weight of the above ground growth of the plant does not tip the container.

Some plants are small enough that you can grow more than one plant in a container; other plants grow so large that you would not want to grow more than a single plant in a container.

Soil depth of at least 8 inches/ 20 cm will hold sufficient soil, nutrients, and moisture to support a good yield from almost every vegetable and herb grown in a container. (Expect to water two or three times per week.) Smaller containers holding less soil may require more frequent watering and fertilizing.

Suggested pot sizes for vegetable crops: (The pot sizes listed here are for standard clay or black plastic nursery pots.)

Good drainage is essential when growing plants in containers. Containers less than 10 inches/25 cm in diameter should have a hole ½ inch/ 1.2 cm in diameter to provide good drainage. Containers greater than 10 inches in diameter need two to four holes.

No ground for growing? You can still pick fresh cucumbers for your salad. Cucumber vines may get tangled and unruly in containers, but other than that cukes are well suited to container growing.

Cucumber Varieties for Containers

Container gardeners have given the thumbs up to several different cucumber varieties, including: Sweet Success, Suyo, Salad Bush, Bush Slicer, Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Salty and Crispy.

Proper Containers to Use When Planting Cucumbers

Cucumbers have deep root systems, so they need containers that are at least 16-inches deep. The bigger the better; experts say an extra two inches in depth can double your harvest.

A pot that is 20 inches in diameter is large enough to grow four to six cucumber plants. You can grow two or three plants in a five-gallon pail or one bush type cuke in a deep 10-inch pot. A rectangular planter box or window box is perfect for growing cukes, as long as you set up a trellis.

Ideal Planting Mix to Use When Planting Cucumbers in Containers

Fill your container three-quarters full with a high quality, well drained soil mix. Garden soil is heavy, slow to drain, and may contain insect and disease pests, so don’t rely on it completely.

Planting Your Cucumbers in Containers

Cucumbers are usually grown from seed that is planted after the soil warms up in the spring. Or, you can buy starter plants or grow your own seedlings indoors.

Plant six to eight seeds about one-half-inch deep in a cluster. When the seedlings have two sets of leaves, choose two or three of the strongest plants and pinch or snip off the others at ground level. It’s tempting to pull out the extras and try to plant them elsewhere, but you’re likely to damage the roots of the remaining plants if you do that. It’s definitely not worth the risk.

Except for varieties with short vines, such as Bush Slicer and Salad Bush, your container-grown cucumbers will need strong support. Cukes thrive growing up trellises teepees, where they are safe from soil borne pests and are easy to harvest. You can put the trellis inside the container before you sow the seeds, but it’s usually easier to set up a trellis behind the container. If you use a teepee, put the sticks in the container before you plant so you don’t disturb the seeds or seedlings.

Caring for Cucumbers when Planted in Containers

Cucumbers love sun and warmth. Give them at least six hours of sunlight every day and they’ll be strong and fruitful.

Container-grown cucumbers need frequent, half-strength fertilizing starting two to four weeks after planting. You can use a commercial fertilizer or an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or liquid kelp.

Soil mix in containers dries out more quickly than garden soil in the ground. The amount of watering your cukes need depends on the size of the containers and the spacing of the plants, as well as environmental conditions such as wind, temperature, sunlight, and humidity.

Check the soil daily by poking a finger into the top inch or two of soil. If it’s moist, don’t water. If it’s dry give the soil a slow even watering until water runs out the bottom of the container. It’s better to irrigate in the morning than a night.

Container-grown cucumbers are susceptible to the same pests as garden grown cukes. Check the plants frequently so you can nip any problems in the bud (well, actually, before they get in the bud).

Harvest frequently when fruits are small for an ongoing supply of crunchy cukes.

Want to Learn More About Container Gardening and Cucumbers?

Here’s a great .pdf file about how to Grow Vegetables in Containers.

The Texas A&M Extension offers this article about Vegetable Gardening in Containers.

Container Gardening Tips has great information relevant to Growing Cucumbers in Containers.

How to Grow Cucumbers

Planning the crop

Although cucumbers have a climbing habit, most varieties are better grown along the ground, particularly in areas with warm to hot summers. When on the ground, the fruit is less water stressed and more likely to remain tender, crisp and juicy. Cucumbers need a sunny position and a well-drained soil that has been generously enriched with well rotted manure or compost as well as some type of potash, such as wood ash. Many varieties tend to spread, but there are compact, almost bush-like varieties that have now been bred for people who have limited space.

How many to grow- Cucumber vines yield about 10 fruits each. For most families, six plants are enough for fresh use. Harvesting time for all but pickling cucumbers is 10 to 12 weeks after sowing, and for most varieties harvesting continues over a number of weeks. Pickling cucumbers are highly productive and harvesting usually begins in six weeks.

Varieties

Burpless Tasty Green: Famous for its digestibility and its skin’s lack of bitterness.

Spacemaster: Perfect for when space is limited; can be grown in tubs and large containers; resistant to cucumber mosaic virus; prolific, slender green fruit with excellent taste.

Armenian: A superb and popular burpless cucumber; fruits are pale green, quite long and ribbed.

Lebanese: Many people who do not like cucumber find that they enjoy this variety; small, slender, thin-skinned, burpless green fruits with crisp, mild flesh and a small seed cavity.

Lemon Cucumber: A heavy producer of round, lemon coloured fruits with crisp, non-bitter flesh.

Marketmore: A reliable variety; cylindrical green fruits with crisp texture and a sweet, mild flavour; resistant to cucumber mosaic virus.

Green Gem (Poinsett): productive, standard green variety; excellent texture and flavour; resistant to both mildew and anthracnose.

Chinese Long Green: A favourite with many gardeners because of its long, smooth, green fruits; best trained on a trellis.

Crystal Apple: A very prolific variety with plump, white-skinned, oval fruits and crisp sweet flesh.

Giant Russian: A prolific producer of very large, yellow-skinned fruits that are crisp, sweet and acid-free.

Kyoto: A very long, smooth, green cucumber best trained on a trellis; fruits are ideal for fresh slicing.

Tokyo Slicer: Excellent long, smooth, green cucumber with fine flavour and crisp texture, bearing prolifically over a long season; best trained on a trellis; resistant to cucumber mosaic virus.

Parisian Pickling (Vert Petit de Paris): Classic French pickling cucumber used for tiny cornichons; ready for picking in 60 days.

Ashley: Mild, early, cylindrical, green skinned cucumber.

Gherkin National: A reliable variety for those who prefer larger pickles.

Patio Pick: Ideal for a small garden or for growing in pots and tubs; often bears around 25 fruits per vine.

Growing tips

Cucumbers are planted in raised beds or in low mounds of soil (called ‘hills’), which improve drainage. Once the soil has warmed up to at least 21°C and after the last frost date, sow seeds, 2.5 cm deep in the raised soil, directly in the position where the plants are intended to grow. Sow four to five seeds in each site. Seeds usually germinate in six to nine days. Thin seedlings to leave the two strongest at each site. For the compact varieties, allow a spacing of 45 cm between plant clumps and 70 cm between rows. For the larger growing varieties, allow 60 cm between plant clumps and 80 cm between rows. When a plant forms its sixth or seventh leaf, pinch out the growing tip to encourage sideshoots. This helps to create compact plants that have more side branches, which will, in turn, bear more fruit. Cucumbers bear separate male and female flowers on the same vine.

The first flowers to emerge are usually male. Female flowers have a miniature cucumber (the ovary) right behind the flower, which is pollinated by bees. Regular watering is essential during the growing season. A thick hay mulch applied after the soil has fully warmed will help to retain soil moisture and reduce water requirements throughout the growing season. A supplementary application of pelleted organic manure or liquid seaweed fertiliser at the recommended strength can be applied when young fruits begin to swell.

In cool districts with unreliable or short summers, use varieties that have been developed for greenhouse, tunnel or frame cultivation. These are known collectively as ‘frame cucumbers’ (for example, Telegraph). Seedlings are raised in individual small pots. The seed is planted on its side and grown under protection, and seedlings are transplanted to their individual pots when they reach the six-leaf stage. Male flowers are routinely removed – newer greenhouse varieties, such as Sweet Success, bear female flowers only, resulting in seedless fruit. (Male flowers should never be removed from varieties grown outdoors.)

Pests and diseases

Powdery mildew, verticillium wilt and cucumber mosaic virus are the most likely problems. Slugs may cause damage to young plants.

Cucumbers are at their best if they are picked when crisp and sweet, but before they reach their maximum size. Pick continuously to ensure a higher yield over a longer period of time. Don’t pull the fruit off the vine as this can cause damage; cucumbers are best harvested with a sharp knife. Harvesting usually continues until the first frost.

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