If you’re looking for a high-yielding vegetable that produces plenty of fresh fruits, growing cucumbers at home is an excellent choice. They grow fast, don’t need a lot of care, and they taste delicious.
Getting started with cucumbers
The best way to start cucumbers indoors is by germinating them in a greenhouse, heated propagator or on a sunny windowsill. Alternatively, you can sow them directly outdoors in late May or June. Just be sure to cover the ground with a cloche or fleece after planting to help the soil warm up and avoid frost damage.
Choosing the right pots for cucumbergrowing
A good-sized pot can make a big difference in terms of your harvest. It should be deep enough to allow the roots to spread out and support the plant’s weight. It also needs plenty of drainage holes to avoid waterlogging and root rot. Choose a wide-mouthed, squat pot that can accommodate at least two plants or a five-gallon bucket that will hold three to four.
Planting in hills or rows
If your garden plot is large, consider planting cucumbers in hills or rows that are spaced about four feet apart. This is an old-fashioned way of planting, but it’s a great way to ensure that each plant gets the right amount of light and soil nutrients.
You can also use a tall trellis to keep the fruits off the ground, or to give them extra support as they grow. You can make a simple trellis by tying a heavy-duty string between a pair of horizontal supports in the greenhouse, or you can buy an elaborate trellis kit from your local gardening supply store.
Crops in pots need plenty of room to develop properly, so be sure to choose a container that’s at least 18 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s full length. You can also use up-cycled containers, such as five gallon buckets, half-barrels, or wine boxes.
Cucumbers can be grown in large containers filled with peat-free multi-purpose compost. They need a well-draining medium and consistent moisture to produce fruit. In a hot, dry climate, it’s especially important to water frequently — at least an inch every week — to ensure that the fruit stays hydrated and crisp.
Soil temperatures should be between 60 degrees F and 75 deg F for healthy plant growth. If the temperature drops below that, growth will stop and general vigor will decline. To check soil temperature, set up a soil thermometer near your crop and watch it daily.
When the soil reaches that temperature, transplant your crop into its new location, spacing seedlings about 24 inches apart. They’ll be ready to pick in about 10 weeks.
The first cucumbers should be harvested by early summer, when they’re about 6 inches long and have a smooth skin that’s easy to slice. You can pick them when they’re still young and tender, or wait until they’re ripe for sweeter, more mature fruits.
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