Cucumbers are tender annuals that grow best in temperatures ranging from 60° to 90°F (15°-32° C).
- Sow cucumber seed in the garden or set out transplants 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring.
- The ideal soil temperature for growing cucumbers is 70°F.
- Sow cucumber seed indoors as early as 6 weeks before transplanting into the garden.
- Protect cucumbers from unexpected frost or chilly nighttime temperatures early in the season. Use floating row covers or plastic tunnels to keep the chill away.
- Cucumbers require 55 to 65 frost-free days from sowing to reach harvest.
- Where to Plant Cucumbers
- Planting and Spacing
- Growing Cucumbers in Containers
- Watering Cucumbers
- Feeding Cucumbers
- Caring for Cucumbers
- Companion Plants
- Flowering and Fruit Formation
- Cucumber Pests
- Cucumber Diseases
- Harvesting Cucumbers
- Storing and Preserving Cucumbers
- Monoecios and Gynoecious Cucumbers: The Difference
- Types of Cucumbers
- Cucumber Yield
- Cucumber Varieties to Grow
- About Cucumbers
- Cucumber Harvest: Learn When And How To Harvest Cucumbers
- When to Pick a Cucumber
- How to Tell When Cucumbers are Ready to Pick
- How to Harvest Cucumbers
- Storing Cucumber Fruit
- Keeping Cucumbers Fresh: Learn How To Store Cucumbers
- How Long Do Cucumbers Last?
- Tips for Preserving Cucumbers
- Boston Pickling Cucumber
- When to Pick Cucumbers
- When and How to Pick Cucumbers for the Best-tasting Harvest
Where to Plant Cucumbers
- Grow cucumbers in full sun. Cucumbers can tolerate partial shade.
- Cucumbers prefer loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare planting beds in advance of planting by adding 2 to 3 inches of aged compost, commercial organic planting mix, and aged manure to beds. Turn the soil to 12 inches deep
- Place black plastic sheeting over the planting bed in spring to warm the soil in advance of planting.
- Cucumbers prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Cucumbers can tolerate alkaline soil to a pH of 7.6.
- Set trellises or supports in place to grow cucumbers up or mound the soil to create a small hill off which cucumber vines can run. Use a trellis 4 to 6 feet tall. Create a mound at least 16 inches across and several inches high; space mounds 4 to 6 feet apart.
Cucumbers are tender annuals that grow best in temperatures ranging from 60° to 90°F.
Planting and Spacing
- Sow cucumber seeds 1 inch deep.
- Sow seeds at the base of the vertical support or on a mound at 6 to 8-inch intervals.
- When seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin to the strongest plant spaced 12 to 18 inches apart for vining cucumbers on vertical supports and 24 to 36 inches apart for bush varieties.
- Cut weak seedlings off at soil level with scissors to avoid disturbing the roots of remaining plants.
- Set a trellis, tripod, or cage in place at planting time if you are growing vining varieties. A 12 to 18-inch diameter wire cage is ideal for growing vining cucumbers. You can make a cage from a 4 to 5-foot section of wire fencing or construction mesh.
- To grow an early crop, you can start cucumbers indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring then transplant seedlings to the garden 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost.
Growing Cucumbers in Containers
Many dwarf or mini-cucumber varieties will grow in a pot as small as 6 inches wide and deep, larger is better. Check the description of the cucumber and its space requirements. ‘Potluck’ is a small growing variety. Larger cucumbers for containers include ‘Patio Pik’ and ‘Bush Whopper.’ Use a 12- to 18-inch trellis, stake, or other support to increase the yield of container-grown cucumbers.
- Keep the soil evenly moist with regular watering. Do not let the soil dry out. Cucumbers are about 95 percent water and require regular water for fast, even growth.
- Set a soaker hose or drip irrigation at the base of plants. Give cucumbers at least 1 inch of water each week during the summer.
- Always water at the base of plants. Moisture on cucumber leaves can result in fungal diseases such as powdery and downy mildew.
- Leaves may wilt in the afternoon in hot weather; that is because plants are taking up water faster than roots can supply.
- If plants are wilted in the morning, the soil is too try and needs immediate water.
- Mulch around plants to slow soil moisture evaporation and to avoid soil compaction caused by heavy watering.
- Too little water or inconsistent watering can cause cucumbers to become oddly shaped or bitter tasting.
- An easy way to measure soil moisture is to stick your index finger in the soil; if your finger comes away dry, it’s time to water.
Side-dress cucumbers with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish or kelp emulsion or a liquid organic fertilizer every 10 to 14 days during the season.
- Add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to planting beds before planting. Compost has all the nutrients cucumbers need for fast growth.
- Side-dress cucumbers with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish or kelp emulsion or a liquid organic fertilizer every 10 to 14 days during the season.
- Feed cucumbers with low nitrogen, high phosphorus, and potassium formula. Be careful to follow label directions; over-fertilizing can stunt or harm plants.
- Side-dress cucumbers at midseason with aged compost to renew soil nutrients.
- Keep planting beds free of weeds; weeds compete for soil nutrients and water. Cultivate shallowly to avoid disturbing roots.
More tips: Cucumber Growing.
Caring for Cucumbers
- Mulch around cucumber plants with straw or chopped leaves. Mulch will help conserve soil moisture, keep vines and fruits clean. Slugs and snails find if difficult to move across straw or pine straw mulch.
- Grow cucumbers with beans, corn, peas, pumpkins, and squash. Do not grow cucumbers with potatoes and herbs.
Cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. The first flowers to appear are male flowers. Female flowers have a small bulge at the stem end–as shown here.
Flowering and Fruit Formation
- Cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. The first flowers to appear are male flowers that will not produce fruit.
- Female flowers appear a week or so after male flowers. A female flower will have a cucumber-shaped swelling at the stem end of the flower; this is the unpollinated fruit.
- Female flowers are pollinated when bees or other insects carry pollen from the male flower to the female flower. Some male flowers may die and drop before female flowers appear. Be patient or sow seeds every couple of weeks so that there are male and female flowers in the garden at the same time.
- To attract bees to flowers, spritz plants with dilute sugar water.
- If plants are in a greenhouse or hoop house where pollinating insects cannot come or if pollination is slow or does not occur, use a soft-bristled brush to hand pollinate flowers; dust the inside of a male flower then carefully dust the inside of a female flower. A female flower will have an immature fruit on its stem, a male won’t.
- Gynoecious, hybrid cucumbers require pollinator plants; monoecious plants with female flowers.
- Cucumber fruits hanging from a trellis or vertical support will grow straight under the force of gravity.
- Cucumbers growing on the ground should be set on a tile or piece of wood so that the fruit does not have direct contact with the soil; this will allow cucumbers to mature with less exposure to disease and insects.
- Cool-weather, rain, and insecticides can delay or harm pollination.
- Cucumbers can be attacked by aphids, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and slugs.
- Control aphids by hosing them off with a blast of water or pinching out infested vegetation.
- Cucumber beetles chew holes in leaves and can spread cucumber bacterial wilt when feeding on plant tissue. Hand-pick them off the vines and destroy them.
- Squash bugs suck plant sap causing leaves to wilt. Squash bugs will also attack seedlings. Dust plants with diatomaceous earth around the base of plants.
- Slugs can scrape ragged holes in leaves. Spread diatomaceous earth around the base of plants.
- Cucumber plants are susceptible to scab, mosaic, and mildew.
- Keep the garden clean of debris and weeds that can harbor pests and disease.
- Remove diseased plants immediately; put them in a paper bag and throw them in the trash to avoid the spread of disease.
- Plant disease-resistant varieties. Look for the following coding to indicate disease resistance: leaf spot (LS), anthracnose (A), bacterial wilt (BW), mosaic (M), scab (S), and downy mildew (DM).
- Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles; plants suddenly wilt and die just as they begin to produce. Control beetles as soon as they appear.
- Powdery mildew and downy mildew, fungal diseases, will cause cucumber leaves to turn grayish-white late in the season. Slow the spread of fungal diseases by spraying plants with horticultural oil or neem oil.
- To help prevent fungal diseases, plant resistant varieties, and space plants further apart to increase air circulation.
More on cucumber problems: Cucumber Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.
Check and harvest cucumbers daily to stay ahead of the harvest.
- Cucumbers will be ready for harvest 55 to 65 days from sowing.
- Harvest cucumbers as soon as they reach mature size; cucumbers left on the vine past maturity will suppress the production of new flowers and fruit.
- Check and harvest cucumbers daily to stay ahead of the harvest.
- Slicing cucumbers are best picked when they are 6 to 8 inches long.
- Clips cucumbers off of plants with a garden clipper, scissors, or knife. Pulling cucumbers off plants can damage plants.
- A fruit that turns yellow at the blossom end opposite the stem is overripe and will be seedy.
- Pickling cucumbers–sweet or dill–are best picked when 1 to 6 inches long. Pick pickling cucumbers every two days.
- Regular dills are best picked when 3 to 4 inches long.
- Burpless cucumbers should be picked at about 10 inches long.
- Hothouse-grown English or Armenian cucumbers are best picked when 12 to 15 inches long.
- Cucumbers left on the vine too long will have tough skins and will lose flavor.
More harvest tips: How to Harvest and Store Cucumbers.
Storing and Preserving Cucumbers
- Pickling and slicing cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.
- Hothouse cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Be sure the temperature is not too low or cucumbers will freeze and turn soft.
- Wrap refrigerated cucumbers in plastic or store them in a zipper bag to keep them crisp.
- Pickled cucumbers will keep for up to 1 year.
Monoecios and Gynoecious Cucumbers: The Difference
- Most cucumbers are monoecious, meaning plants produce both female and male flowers. Female flowers are commonly pollinated by insects after visiting male flowers.
- Hybrid cucumber varieties are gynoecious. Gynoecious cucumbers produce only female flowers. These plants must be set near a monoecious plant for pollination or must be pollinated by hand. Gynoecious cultivars include ‘Conquest,’ ‘Early Pride,’ and ‘Bush Baby.’
Cucumbers growing up A-frame trellis.
Types of Cucumbers
There are many types and varieties of cucumbers. Here are the differences:
- Bush cucumbers can grow 24 to 36 inches tall and wide forming a compact plant. Bush cucumbers are well-suited for container growing or small gardens. Plant bush varieties every two weeks for a continuous harvest.
- Vine cucumbers can grow to 6 feet high or more and 2 to 3 feet wide. Vining cultivars require more space but produce more fruit. Grow vining cucumbers on a fence, trellis, or tripods when possible to keep fruit off the ground.
- Pickling cucumbers have thin, pale green skin, bear fruit early, and concentrate fruiting in a 10-day period. Pickle cucumbers a few hours after harvesting for crisp pickles.
- Slicing cucumbers, for fresh eating, commonly are green-skinned and set fruit for 4 to 6 weeks. Slicing cucumbers include “burpless’ cultivars which are mild-flavored and easy to digest.
- European, English, or greenhouse cucumbers are seedless cultivars developed for greenhouse growing.
- Lemon cucumbers are yellow oval-to-round heirloom cucumbers. Lemon cucumbers are ideal for a single serving. Harvest lemon cucumbers just as they turn yellow; do not wait too long or they will be seedy.
- Asian cucumbers are thin, heavily ribbed cultivars; the fruit grows from 12- to 24-inches long.
- Gherkin is a term used for any pickling cucumber; however, a true gherkin is not a cucumber but the fruit of a different species, Cucumis anguria.
- Cornichons is the generic French term for any small cucumber.
- Grow 2 to 3 cucumber plants per household member for fresh eating.
- Grow 3 to 4 plants per quart for pickling.
Slicing cucumbers include “burpless’ cultivars which are mild-flavored and easy to digest. Harvest burpless varieties at about 10 inches long.
Cucumber Varieties to Grow
Lemon cucumbers on vine in November.
Cucumbers are divided into the slicing cucumbers for fresh eating and pickling cucumbers. There are dozens of varieties to choose from. In the list below “gyn” denotes gynoecious which produce only female flowers and must be grown near a monoecios plant; others are monoecios, they produce both male and female flowers.
More on cucumbers to grow: Cucumber Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow.
- Cucumber is a weak-stemmed tender annual that grows. Some varieties grow like a bush, others are vining.
- Leaves are somewhat heart-shaped with rough margins; leaves and stems are covered with prickly short hairs.
- Flowers are yellow.
- Fruits are commonly pale or dark green but some varieties are yellow or white; fruit ranges in size from 3 inches (7 cm) to more than 24 inches (61 cm) long.
- Botanical name: Cucumis sativus
- Origin: Asia
More tips: How to Grow Cucumbers That Are Not Bitter Tasting.
Store-bought cucumbers can’t compare to those picked fresh from the garden. One or two months of the year is all the time we can hope to enjoy this garden favorite in our area.
The way you harvest and store them can go a long way towards extending the season.
- Harvest daily and when “just the right” length for eating is reached. With “slicing cucumbers” that’s about 6 or 7 inches long. They’ll be green and firm.
- If your plants give you more than you can eat, store, or share — recycle them. Put them in the compost pile or just dig a hole in a garden bed and put them in. (Chop with shovel first if you want, to make decomposing faster.)
If you allow them to become overripe, the plant will slow production and possibly cease to bear fruit. (Over-ripes will be fat with lots of yellow.)
- As with most vegetables the more you pick, the more you get. Harvesting promptly helps insure a higher yield.
This almost hidden cucumber is ready to be harvested.
- Avoid harvesting when the plants are wet. (True with any garden vegetable.)
- Avoid harvesting in severe heat and if the plants are wilted.
- Harvest in the cooler part of the day. Early morning is best. Late evening is good too. As you harvest your fruit, keep your basket in the shade so the fruit won’t be exposed to the sun.
- Take care not to damage the plant when you harvest. Carefully cut the cucumber from the stem. Doing this prevents accidental damage to the plant.
If you plan to store the cuke for any length of time, leave an 1/8 to 1/4 inch of stem on. This helps a bit in extending its storage life by “sealing” that otherwise open end.
- If you garden with mulch, more than likely your cucumbers will be nice and clean. If there’s dirt, gently brush it away. Store unwashed. Cucumbers straight from the garden have a protective film on them. Washing will destroy it.
Cucumbers, fresh from the garden.
When I grew cucumbers for market, I stored them in the crisper box of my older refrigerator. I first put in a cotton hand towel (a double layers of papers towels will work) and laid the cukes in. I didn’t move them again until it was time to go to market.
I use this same method to preserve my cucumbers for up to a month after my plants stop producing.
This works with my newer refrigerator too, but I keep an eye on the glass top. If moisture builds up, I gently take the cukes out, dry everything, and put in a new fresh cotton cloth and replace the cukes.
Option for single or used cucumber:
If you’re storing a single cucumber or a part of a cucumber you can wrap it in plastic wrap. It’ll keep nicely. Mine never last that long, but I’ve heard others say they’ve kept cucumbers 10 days or more this way.
With a little care you can have cucumbers about a month longer than your garden gives them to you.
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Cucumber Harvest: Learn When And How To Harvest Cucumbers
It’s hard to wait for those first tastes of your summer harvest, and cucumbers are no exception. You should know when to pick a cucumber in order to experience the crisp, juicy flesh perfect for salads, pickling and many other uses. But when and how do you harvest them?
There are two main types of cucumber. Slicing varieties are meant to be eaten fresh, while pickling types are bumpy, rough and require blanching and pickling for best flavor. Whichever variety you choose to grow, you need to know how to tell when cucumbers are ready to pick.
When to Pick a Cucumber
Cucumbers need a long growing season and are ready for harvest in 50 to 70 days. Harvesting ripe cucumbers at the right time ensures sweet fruits that have no bitterness. Cucumbers left on the vine too long have a bitter taste that ruins the fresh flavor. The fruits ripen at different times on the vine, so it is essential to pick them as they are ready.
Harvest when the fruit is the right size, which is usually eight to
ten days after the first female flowers open. Cucumbers must be picked before they show the first signs of yellowing, which indicate the fruits are past their prime.
How to Tell When Cucumbers are Ready to Pick
The question, do cucumbers ripen after you pick them, must be met with a resounding, “no.” Unlike some fruits, cucumbers do not continue to develop after harvest. Ripe cucumbers have a firm, green flesh. The exact size depends on the use and variety. Pickling fruits may be two to six inches long. Slicing cucumbers are best at 6 inches and the “burpless” varieties are best harvested at 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter.
During the peak of the season, you’ll be harvesting ripe cucumbers every day or two. The optimum time for picking is early in the morning when the vines are cool. Now that you know when to pick a cucumber, it’s time to learn how to harvest cucumbers.
How to Harvest Cucumbers
Remove fruits that are stunted and not growing, have rotten ends or are past their prime. This prevents the plant from focusing energy on fruits that are a waste anyway.
Use garden shears or pruners when harvesting ripe cucumbers. Removing the fruit with a sharp implement will prevent injury to the vine by twisting or pulling. Cut the stem ¼ inch above the fruit.
The long burpless cucumbers are sensitive to bruising. Lay them gently in a basket or box as you gather ripe fruit.
Storing Cucumber Fruit
Cucumbers are best fresh but they may be stored in the crisper for up to three days. You can just place the fruits in loose plastic or perforated bags. Avoid stacking them and keep them from smashing against the side of the crisper drawer. Commercial growers use wax coatings when storing cucumber fruit to prevent moisture loss.
Pickling cucumbers will keep a bit longer and do not necessarily need to be refrigerated. Store them in a cool, dark place for up to five days before preserving them.
Keeping Cucumbers Fresh: Learn How To Store Cucumbers
Gardening newbies tend to make one big mistake with their first garden, planting more vegetables than they could possibly use in one season. Even seasoned gardeners can go overboard with seed catalogs and make this common gardening mistake. Fortunately, many vegetables and fruits have long shelf lives. Some vegetables, such as cucumbers, don’t have a long shelf life but can be preserved in ways that extend the storage life. Continue reading to learn more about cucumber storage.
How Long Do Cucumbers Last?
Fresh cucumbers can last about two weeks if stored properly. They can be very specific about storage temperature, lasting longest when stored at 55°F. (13°C.). When storage temperatures are below 40°F. (4°C.), pitting will develop on the cucumber skin, and water-soaked spots may also form.
Keeping cucumbers in perforated bags provide aeration to the fruits, keeping cucumbers fresher longer. Before storing fresh cucumbers, wash them thoroughly, and remove any residual dirt or debris. Do not use soaps or abrasive materials. Rinse the cucumbers and let them completely air dry before placing them in ventilated plastic bags and storing in a cool, dry place.
Tips for Preserving Cucumbers
Cucumbers can also be prepared in recipes such as Greek salad and other cucumber salads, salsa or tzatziki sauce, then canned to get the most out of excess cucumber harvests. If you have a plethora of cucumbers and your family and friends no longer take your calls at harvest time, try preserving some in homemade cucumber jelly which adds a cool, crisp flavor when paired with chicken or pork.
Thinly slice extra cucumbers and place in a food dehydrator for long lasting, healthy cucumber chips. You can even put excess cucumbers in a fruit juicer and then freeze the juice into ice cubes for a refreshing, summery flair to ice water, lemonade or cocktails.
Of course, the most common way of preserving cucumbers is by making pickles or relishes with them. Properly preserved pickles and relishes will give cucumbers the longest shelf life. Only pickling varieties of cucumbers should be used to make pickles. With just a Google search, you can quickly end up headed down a never-ending rabbit-hole of pickle and relish recipes, so it helps to know a little about canning vegetables in advance.
Boston Pickling Cucumber
Light requirements: Full sun.
Planting: Space 36 to 60 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.) If you’re trellising vines, space plants 12 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Cucumbers need moist but well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.8.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist by applying roughly 1 inch of water per week. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to keep leaves dry and slow disease development. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation, but wait until soil has warmed before covering it.
Frost-fighting plan: Cucumber is damaged by light frost (28º F to 32º F). If a surprise late spring frost is in the forecast, protect seedlings with a frost blanket.
Common issues: Inadequate or inconsistent moisture causes oddly shaped or poor-tasting fruit. If plants suddenly wilt and don’t recover, the vine has been infected with bacterial wilt, spread by cucumber beetles. Also keep an eye out for squash bugs, slugs, aphids, and powdery mildew. Squash bugs attack seedlings. Slugs like ripening fruit. Aphids colonize leaves and buds.
Harvesting: Pick cucumbers whenever they’re big enough to use. Check vines daily as the fruit appear because they enlarge quickly. The more you harvest, the more fruit the vines will produce. Oversized fruit is bitter. Cucumbers with a yellow end are overripe. Harvest using a knife or clippers, cutting the stem above the fruit.
Storage: If you’ll use cucumbers within 1 or 2 days, store at room temperature. Exposing cucumbers to temperatures below 50º F can hasten decay. If you must refrigerate cucumbers, wrap them in a dry paper towel and slip into a loosely closed plastic bag. Store them in a warmer part of the fridge and for best flavor and quality, use within 1 to 3 days.
For more information, visit the Cucumbers page in our How to Grow section.
When to Pick Cucumbers
By Erin Huffstetler | 06/18/2018 |
This post may contain affiliate links. View our disclosure.
Have loads of cucumbers growing on the vine, and wondering when you should pick them? Here’s how to tell when your cucumbers are ready to harvest, and how to pick them without damaging the vines.
How Long It Takes to Grow Cucumbers
Most cucumbers are ready to harvest 50-70 days after germination. This is true, whether you’re growing vining or bush cucumbers. Some varieties grow faster than others, so consult the seed packet or the plant tag that came with your seedlings to see how long yours are supposed to take. This will give you an idea of when you should start looking for ripe cucumbers. If you bought seedlings from a garden center, you won’t have any way of knowing when your cucumber plants germinated, but that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to tell when it’s time to harvest your cucumbers.
Signs Your Cucumbers Are Ready to Pick
Cucumbers become bitter and develop tough skins and seeds, if you leave them on the vine too long, so don’t wait for them to reach baseball bat size before you pick them. As soon as they turn green, feel firm to the touch and have reached the right size for the variety and your intended use, go ahead and pick them. Here are some guidelines for when to pick different types of cucumbers:
Burpless: 1.5 inches in diameter
Pickling: 3-4 inches long
Big Pickles: 6-7 inches long
Slicing: 6-8 inches long
Consult the seed packet or plant tag that came with your cucumber plants to see how long the particular variety you’re growing is supposed to get, and to get a feel for what they’re supposed to look like when you harvest them. Most cucumbers develop dark green skins, but some varieties have lighter skins. And some even have touches of yellow, even though that’s usually a sign of overripeness.
From the time a female flower appears on the vine, it only takes 8-10 days for a cucumber to grow to mature size, so be sure to check for ripe cucumbers often. The more often you pick, the more cucumbers you’ll get. If you have a vacation planned during the growing season, ask a neighbor or friend to pick cucumbers for you while you’re gone. You don’t want to leave cucumbers on the vine too long, or the plant will think the season is over and stop producing.
To prevent damage to the vines, cut your ripe cucumbers off with a pair of scissors or a knife. Leave an inch of the stem intact, so the cucumbers will store well. Cucumbers often have prickly spines covering their skin, so you may want to wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands. A vegetable brush will take the spines right off when you wash your cucumbers. Avoid picking your cucumbers when the leaves are wet. This is likely to spread disease.
Growing burpless cucumbers? Be sure to handle them carefully when you pick them. They have thin skins and bruise very easily.
Cucumbers won’t ripen after you pick them, so pinch off all the flowers 30-40 days before the first expected frost date for your area. This will cause the plants to put all of their energy into ripening the cucumbers that remain on the vine.
When and How to Pick Cucumbers for the Best-tasting Harvest
When Is a Cucumber Ready to Pick?
Your cucumbers’ varieties dictate the time to pick them. Although most are harvest-ready as soon as they become deep green, some cultivars are white, yellowish, pale-green or striped. Their seed packets’ pictures and days-to-harvest numbers give good indications of when to pick them.
Expert gardener’s tip: A cucumber vine continues producing fruit over a period of weeks. Once a female flower has been pollinated , the baby cuke at its base should be big enough to harvest within eight to 10 days.
Why Can’t I Wait until My Cucumbers Get Really Big?
Cucumbers taste best before they ripen completely. Waiting for yours to get really large might seem to be the best payoff for your time and labor but allowing them to ripen on the vine will make them too bitter to eat.
Do Pickling and Slicing Cucumbers Have Different Ripening Times?
As a general rule, slicing cucumbers should be harvested when they are between 7 and 9 inches long, and at 2 to 4 inches long:
- Harvest at 2 inches for gherkins or sweet pickles.
- Harvest at 3 to 4 inches for dill pickles.
Length doesn’t apply to burpless varieties of cucumbers; most of those should be picked when they measure about 1.5 inches around.
What’s the Correct Way to Pick Cucumbers?
Snip cucumbers off the vine with sharp scissors or pruning shears. Leave a 1-inch section of stem on the ones you intend to store; otherwise their stem ends may rot. Twisting cukes off by hand could pull a vine from its trellis or the stem from the fruit.
Expert gardener’s tips:
If your cukes are prickly, wear gloves while harvesting them and remove the spines with a vegetable brush before slicing or pickling.
Burpless cucumbers bruise easily. Set them gently in a basket or container and handle them as little as possible after harvesting.