Whether you grow cucumber plants in the garden, in containers, or even in straw bales, there are a few simple tips can help grow your plants to your biggest harvest ever.
Cucumbers can be a finicky crop for sure. In addition to being susceptible to disease, they can also fall victim to the dreaded cucumber beetle and other insects as well.
But strong, healthy plants are the first line of defense against both pests and disease. And the 3 simple key tips below can certainly help you to grow strongest plants ever, and lead to an outstanding harvest!
3 Secrets To Growing Great Cucumber Plants
#1 Give Them A Steady Supply Of Water
One thing is for sure, cucumber plants love water. In fact, the slender long fruits (yes, technically they are a fruit) are made up up nearly 95% water!
Because of this, plants need a steady supply of H2O to grow to their full potential. And the word “steady” can’t be emphasized enough here!
Cucumber plants are one of the first plants to dry out, whether it be in a garden, or container setting. Their vines, stems and foliage begin to wilt quickly when water is in short supply.
And that wilting causes serious stress to the plants, and to future bloom and fruit production levels. It also makes them much more susceptible to attack from disease and pests. (See : Protecting Cucumber Plants From Mildew and Beetles)
Many vegetable plants (tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc.) can survive and thrive on 1″ per week of water. But cucumbers on the other hand need double that at around 2″ for maximum health and production.
That means watering plants 2 to 3 times per week when rain isn’t falling. How much water? As a general rule of thumb, 1/4 to a 1/2 gallon of water per plant, per watering.
And whatever you do, mulch those plants! A few inches of straw underneath cucumber plants helps retain valuable moisture in the ground, and in the roots of the plants.
But remember, as with nearly everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Be careful not to over-water. This can cause yellowing of the foliage, and lead to mildew and other issues.
If your plant foliage begins to turn yellow, back off on the watering.
#2 Feed Your Cucumber Plants Regularly
Cucumbers, like many common garden crops, need a steady of supply of nutrients to thrive.
Unfortunately, even the best soil begins to lose those nutrients as plants grow. This happens in garden soil, and even more so when planted in containers or raised beds. And when that happens, plants can’t grow to their full potential.
And that is where fertilizing plants with a steady, slow dose of nutrients makes all the difference!
Cucumber plants need a small dose of fertilizer every few weeks for maximum growth and production. The best way to do this is by using liquid versions that absorb via the roots and foliage.
Picking The Right Fertilizer
Compost tea, worm casting tea, or a soluble organic fertilizer all are great choices for fertilizing plants. Fertilize plants every two weeks for the first 8 to 12 weeks to promote strong growth, and bigger yields. (Product Link : Performance Organics Water Soluble Fertilizer)
As with watering, too much of of a good thing can be harmful when it comes to fertilizing. Over-fertilizing leads to excessive foliage growth with little to zero blooms. Slow and steady is the key to success! (See Our Article : When & How To Fertilize Vegetable Plants)
#3 Keep Your Crop Well Picked
Finally, last but not least, pick those cucumbers early and often! The easiest way to slow or even stop cucumber production is by allowing fruit to stay on the vines too long.
When overloaded with too many cucumbers, or when too many fruit are growing excessively large on the vine, the plant stops using energy to produce new blooms and fruit in order to continue growing the existing fruit larger.
And we all know that over-sized cucumbers are not the tastiest of fruits!
Pick early and often to keep plants producing at their maximum levels all summer long.
Here is to getting the most from your cucumber plants this year – and to a record harvest! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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