When it comes to growing cucumbers, following a few key tips can make all the difference between struggling plants, or a massive harvest.
And if you love cucumbers, a big harvest means plenty of cukes for salads, fresh eating, pickling and more! Here is a look at 7 key tips to help you grow your best crop ever:
The 6 Secrets To Growing Cucumbers
#1 Plant For Early Morning Sun
Cucumbers need a lot of sunlight to produce a bumper crop. Cucumbers rely heavily on photosynthesis to build strong, sturdy and productive vines. A process that is centered around the sun entirely.
Locate your crop in an area that receives a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight each day. And if at all possible, make sure your plants receive early morning sunlight.
Early morning sunlight helps to dry off vines and foliage from early morning dew. Dew that if left to linger, can create the perfect conditions for mildew and blight.
#2 Great Soil = Great Cucumbers
Whether planted in the ground or in containers, cucumbers need rich, fertile soil to grow strong and thrive. In addition, that soil needs to be light and airy to allow for good drainage.
When planting, add in 6 to 8 cups (a few shovels) of compost to each planting hole. Compost adds vital nutrients that can easily be absorbed by the cucumber plants. But even more, it also loosens the soil to create excellent drainage.
Want to build even more power? Add in a quarter cup of worm castings to the compost. The worm castings / compost combo can make a huge difference in the health and productivity of plants.
#3 Plant In Mounds
When planting directly in the soil, plant your crop in slightly tapered hills. In containers, make sure the primary stem is planted above the surrounding soil as well.
Cucumber plants are highly susceptible to rot. But a bit of “raised planting” helps keep the main plant stem out of sitting water during heavy rains or watering.
Create tapered mounds approximately 18″ in diameter, that are 3″ to 4″ high in the middle. And remember – add in that compost!
#4 Transplants Vs. Direct Seeding
Although cucumbers can be grown easily by direct seeding, we prefer starting our seeds early and transplanting. The added growth and strength of a transplant gives the plant a better chance to avoid and fight dreaded cucumber beetle attacks.
When planting, plant two transplants per cucumber mound. If seeding, plant 3 seeds and thin to the 2 strongest after a few weeks. By growing multiple vines per mound, they intertwine for added strength.
#5 Be Careful What You Plant Nearby
What you plant around your cucumbers will play an important role in their productivity. One thing to avoid for sure is growing cucumbers near potatoes.
Potatoes release a substance in the soil that greatly hinders the growth of cucumbers. And planting them nearby can have devastating effects on your cucumber crop.
But there are some crops that are highly beneficial, like radishes. When grown nearby or with cucumbers, radishes help to repel harmful insects like cucumber beetles and aphids that attack tender cucumber plants.
When planting cucumbers, simply seed 5 to 10 radish seeds on the edges of your mounds. The seeds germinate fast, and will help stave away the beetles. (See: Companion Planting 101)
#6 Crop Rotation
Cucumbers, much like tomatoes and peppers, can easily develop soil borne disease when planted in the same space year after year.
Rotate your crop to a new location in the garden each season. This allows the soil to recover, minimizes disease, and reduces the possibility for long-term infestation.
For best results, wait at least three years before rotating back to plant cucumbers in the same location.
#7 Harvest Regularly
Once cucumber plants begin to grow and produce, they need to be picked on a regular basis to continue to produce.
When overloaded with a harvest, plants will instead put their energy towards making existing fruit larger, and not into producing new blooms.
In addition, cucumbers left on the vine too long will become woody, full of seeds, and bitter. Check plants daily, cukes can go from 2″ inches to 12″ in just a day or two!
A bit of slow and steady fertilizing can help to keep plants producing as well. Apply a light dose of compost tea or organic fertilizer ever 2 weeks until plants begin to form their first cucumbers. Once they begin to fruit, fertilizing can cease. Product Link : Dr. Earth’s Organic Fertilizer
There you have it, seven huge secrets for growing cucumbers successfully. Now get out there and grow your best crop ever!
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary
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