When it comes to the best way to plant cucumbers in your garden, raised beds or containers, you simply can’t beat planting seeds directly into the soil instead of using transplants. Not only can it save money on transplants, but as you will see below – it can give you healthier plants, and a more productive crop!
In order to have a bountiful harvest, there are quite a few garden plants that almost always require using transplants instead of direct seeding. At the top of that list are tomatoes and peppers.
For starters, both of these popular crops have long seed to harvest times. Tomato plants on average can take from 90 to 120 days to go from seed to fruiting. Likewise, pepper plants can take anywhere from 70 to 100 days. In fact, some hot peppers can actually take up to 120 days or more to mature fruit!
Because of those long production times, using transplants for tomatoes and peppers is a must in most climates. There simply isn’t enough growing days for seeds to grow into mature plants with ripe fruit. The same is true for other vegetables with long seed to harvest times too.
But cucumber plants on the other hand are a totally different story. With seed to fruit times that can be as short as 55 days, they grow and produce fast. That of course, makes direct seeding more than possible. But there are a lot more reasons that planting cucumbers via seed instead of transplants makes sense!
The Many Advantages Of Planting Cucumbers By Seed
If there is one method we have found to be true year after year in our gardens here at the farm, it is that planting cucumber seeds is always a better choice than using cucumber transplants. Not just for the speedy seed to harvest time, but because seeds grow stronger plants and more extensive root systems.
Even more, planting cucumbers by seed also allows your plants to have a better chance to deal successfully with pests, disease and common cucumbers plant issues such as mold and mildew. Issues that can often destroy cucumber transplants in the cool, wet weather of spring in a flash.
Here is an in-depth look at the advantages of planting cucumbers by seed versus transplants, along with a few secrets to success when planting your seeds this spring!
How To Best Plant Cucumbers – Why To Plant Seeds Instead Of Plants!
Spring Transplanting Issues For Cucumbers
Cucumber transplants can experience a lot of issues when planted into the soil in early spring. All vegetable transplants go through a bit of shock when first planted, but for cucumbers, the shock can create major short and long term issues.
For starters, the cool and often wet spring can mean plants simply sit in the soil without much growth. And that lack of growth isn’t only up top, but underneath in the roots too. And the longer the plant sits, the more it can succumb to pests, rot, mildew and mold.
If you have ever planted cucumber plants in early spring and watched the leaves yellow, it is often because they are too wet and cold. And when that happens, they sit stagnant in the soil.
With seeds however, there is no interruption or shock as they begin to grow. Since they never get disturbed with transplanting, they simply grow and develop uninterrupted. They also are accustomed the soil and temperatures right from the start.
Because of that, the root systems develop much stronger from seed than transplants do. We see this play out in our test garden year after year. And better roots means more productive plants!
Dealing With Pests & Disease – The Best Way To Plant Cucumbers
Pests and disease issues can also be minimized when planting seeds instead of transplants. When transplants first go in the ground, their stems and leaves are extremely tender. Because of that, plants are easily damaged by the elements. And once damaged, they are easy prey for pests and disease.
Listen In Below To Our Podcast On The Secrets To Growing Cucumbers!
Why are plants so vulnerable? Because up until being transplanted, the foliage has not been exposed to the outside elements. Because it is so tender, it often fails quickly in inclement early spring weather. And once the leaves sustain damage, the plant begins to suffer quickly too.
By planting seeds, however, you allow the plant to “grow up” in its environment. There is no shock. As leaves form and fill out, they do so stronger and healthier because they are already adjusted to the growing conditions.
So now that we have covered why seeds are the better planting choice for cucumbers – let’s cover how to best plant seeds for your best crop ever!
How To Plant Cucumber Seeds For Success
When getting ready to plant your seeds, the first key to success is waiting for your soil to warm. Never plant cucumber seeds until the threat of frost is gone and the soil has warmed to at least 60°(F).
Why? Because cool soil not only hinders germination, it can rot out the seeds in the soil as well. In addition, cool soil spells trouble for young, tender seedlings even if they do germinate. And don’t worry about getting a late start. Seeds planted in warmer soil will outgrow and outperform seeds planted weeks earlier in cool, wet soil!
Cucumber stems and root systems suffer when they become waterlogged. So much so that they can easily rot, mold and even completely die off if saturated enough. But planting your seeds in small mounds or hills can help combat this.
By planting on a slightly raised hill, excess water drains away more easily. Even more, on a hill, the water cannot pool around the main stem. This is a huge benefit when it comes to eliminating rot and mold.
Always try to plant your seeds in mounds! Even if you are simply planting a single plant in a container or raised bed, plant your seeds in a small raised hill within the container or bed to help with this issue.
Plant Your Seeds With Power – The Best Way To Plant Cucumbers
Just as with any other vegetable or flower plant, growing in fertile, well draining soil is the best recipe for success when it comes to growing cucumbers. And the best way to create great soil is by adding compost to your planting area!
As you create your planting hill, always mix in a few cups of compost into each planting hill. Compost is great for helping to speed germination and power quick root growth. It also aids in keeping good moisture in, while allowing excess water to drain away.
In addition to compost, we love mixing in a cup of worm castings to each planting hill right where we plant our seeds. The castings are perfect for supplying the seedlings with a slow and steady diet of nutrients. Affiliate Link: Pure Worm Castings
When planting in a garden setting, plant six to eight seeds in each hill. Once they germinate, thin to your best three to four plants. In a container or small planting area, plant a few extra seeds as well and thin to your best plant. The key is to always plant a few more seeds to ensure germination.
Mulch & Watering – The Best Way To Plant Cucumbers
Just as important as adding nutrients to your seedlings is applying mulch. After planting, cover your seeds with a light coating of straw, shredded leaves or grass clippings. This will keep weeds out and moisture in for the seeds to germinate. Keep it on the light side to allow the seeds to come through the surface.
Here is to planting your cucumbers by seed this year, and enjoying an amazing harvest early this summer! Happy Gardening, Jim and Mary.
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