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How to Grow Cucumbers

Baby Cuke

This was the first baby cucumber of my garden.

Cukes are one of my favorite vegetables. Seldom do I not have a few in my crisper drawer. They vary in delightful ways, from “burpless” varieties to ones bred just for pickling to slicing varieties. They come in round, long, short, yellow, green, and white varieties. They are all great in salads and cold soups and sauces. No summer garden (or South Florida winter garden) should be without them.  If given direct sun, evenly moist, fertile soil with good drainage, success is all but guaranteed. Before planting, work in lots of good organic compost if you have it to help the soil retain moisture.

There are two types of cucumber plants, like tomato plants, there are vining types and bush types.  ”Salad Bush,” “Bush Champion,” and “pickle bush” are all types that can be grown in a 5 gallon bucket on a patio.  Just one plant can produce many cucumbers if it’s watered daily.

The vining type of cucumber is well suited to the raised bed vegetable garden.  You can grow them in the back row of your square foot garden, and let them climb up the trellis.  Or, you could build a cucumber support such as this one that allows you to grow lettuce underneath it.

Cucumber Trellis

Cucumber Trellis

The only problem I see with this support is that it’s not large enough to support full growing cucumber plants. They would still need a trellis upon which to grow or they’ll spill over into the yard.

Utilizing one of your beds for cucumbers would be ideal for them.  Plant the seeds in the back 4 square feet of your bed. Most varieties come with instructions to plant 3 or 4 seeds in a little mound, 18″ apart.  This translates to a square foot garden in one of two ways.  Utilizing the back two rows of square feet, plant 3 or 4 seeds in the middle of each 4 sq. ft. square.  Or, you can plant one seed per square foot in the last row only.  They need plenty of room for the roots to grow, so don’t crowd them.  Cucumbers like peppers, which would be good planted in the squares just South of the cucumbers. In the front row plant herbs or lettuce or radishes or carrots.

South Florida has a particularly nasty little beetle that has destroyed my vining crops in my past attempts to grow organically. I called the Broward County extension and spoke to the master gardener about this problem. My cukes, cantaloupe and squash were doing fine until one day the leaves got spotty, then turned into hairnets, then died. He recommended one spray that is the “closest thing to organic” insecticide that would work. It’s Bayer’s multi purpose spray and I now use it on the growing plants before they send out blossoms or fruit.  If you do choose to use an insecticide of any kind, use it only at dusk so you don’t kill your bees.  Bees are your friends, and their benefits will be discussed in a later blog. In the mean time, protect your bee population by never spraying in the mornings especially when they’re gathering nectar.  If you kill your bees, you will have no cucumbers unless you pollinate them yourself.

Happy Gardening!

Marian

29 comments to How to Grow Cucumbers

  • Ida

    I have lots of flowers but no cucumbers and it has been about 2 weeks since they bud. What might have happened. We do have bees so that shouldn’t be the problem. Help please

    • admin

      Be patient. The first bloom isn’t always the one that bears fruit. Look at the base of the blossoms. Do you have both male (without a little cuke at the base) and female blossoms? If so, fear not. You’ll have cukes soon.

  • Wayne

    I have a cucumber in a topsy turvy that has done very well, but only a few cucumbers are maturing. over 90% of the cukes have shriveled and died on the vines. any suggestions? it is watered twice a day.

  • jen

    I first tried to send you this in an email, but there is an add pasted half over the security question.
    Anyway, my question is this, for the last few years all of my cucumbers have been turning orange or yellow, and ball shaped instead of tuber shaped. They are also only about 2 inches long before this happens. I first thought that I was watering too much, or not enough, but now I am at a loss. Any help or insight would be great!
    thanks!

  • Jen,

    Fully ripened cucumbers are orange or yellow. If you enjoy the citrusy favor, and large seeds they are still edible. At this stage, the seeds can be harvested for next year. Some varieties are “ball” shaped instead of “tuber” shaped. Especially the lemon cucumber that is yellow and about 2-3 inches.

    Thank you for this post. Vines of Miniature White cucumbers grow 3ft and would work well on a this smaller trellis. I love extending the growing season this way :)

  • Jean Wolchina

    I brought home a big cucmber plant in a large pot with a built in basket for standing and two tomato plants the same. I put them out by the fence cause I wanted the Cuke to run. Have gotten a few large cukes off of it but the leaves (With the exception of a few) have turned brown and the plant doesn’t look good anymore. When I brought it home it had several runners and flowers and now it looks pityful. I water all about evry two days which seems to be about right but I just don’t know about the cuke. Can you help?

  • elsie

    I have a cucumber plant with lots of yellow flowers and some large and small cucumbers. In one week the leaves started to wilt, cucumbers small and large had little holes with ‘stuff’ coming out. They must be some type of borer? Do I get rid of the plant? If so, can I add to the compost pile? Can I treat the plant or is it too late. I have a lemon cucumber plant a few feet away that is still in good shape. What to do?

    • Call your county extension master gardener and find out what type of predator this is. If it can be treated he’ll let you know. But NEVER put diseased or infested plants in your compost pile. If you have to trash the plant to save the rest, pull it, stick it in the garbage, and spray the remaining soil liberally with Neem oil, an organic pesticide. Good luck! I’ve found that cukes are susceptible to beetles here – one day all my cuke plant leaves had turned into hairnets. But every region is different, so the master gardener in your local county is a good choice for an answer.

  • nixon

    I made a raised planter that is 6 inches deep. Is this deep enough to grow cukes?

  • [...] Cucumber Trellis by My Raised Bed Vegetable Garden [...]

  • Fred

    We have 16 different veg gong in raised beds. All are doing well, but the cuks have not broken thru the ground. Just four little mounds. They were planted about three weeks. Any ideas or suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Fred

  • Eric

    Just wanted to say thank you ! have learn a lot about cucumber’s that i didn’t know existed(beginner farmer in training)

    also – Neem oil – does this work for other ten just cucumbers ? if you have to pull it out -

    Thanks

  • Donna

    I have grown cucumbers all my live in Maine. I come to Florida and they start off with so many flowers and the plant is very healthy and then when I get a few cumcumbers and the plants leaves are full of holes and then dry up. I sprinkle 7 on them and then I sprayed 7 with dish soap and I just can’t get a good cumcumber plant after that. What am I doing wrong?

    • Donna, I have had the same problem. I called our county extension Master Gardener and he said that the best spray for Florida pests is the one made by Bayer, and it’s their all purpose spray. Begin spraying the leaves as they grow, because once you get the little yellow spots, the predators have won. If any of you out there have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment.

  • shondra

    I have cucumber plants that are about 2 weeks old and are about 5 inches tall but only have two leaves. What is going on?

  • Patty

    I would like the measurement/directions to build one of these please…thank you…
    Patty

  • JOHN

    Will this type of planting cucumbers work in northern new jersey

  • Mandy

    I am having similar issues with my vining cucumbers and the leaves turning yellow, wilting, and something boring into my not quite ready to pick cucumbers. Is it possible to trim the yellow leaves and the vine will recover? Leaves further up the vine seem okay still; it is like it is yellowing from the ground up. Also, once I notice a cucumber with a hole, should I pick it and toss it?

  • Cindy

    I just picked 2 large cucumbers they are very big (long and Fat), but not ripe. They are yellow. I cut them open and they had lots of seeds inside. They are sort of white and green inside. Do you think this could have been caused by all the rain we had this month? What do I do throw them out?

  • Steph

    Huge pickle fan! I’m planning on growing cukes next season for sure..
    Great information on here thank you!
    I’ve started a Facebook page called Nerdy Moms with Green Thumbs
    after working in a Garden Centre for years it’s nice to hear feedback and methods for growing.
    Thanks again!

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