Cucumbers are one of the most popular vegetables for home gardens, especially in rural and suburban areas. These plants are relatively convenient because they seem to do well, as long as you take the time to give them tender love and care and you don’t have any critters and creatures looking for their next dinner.
Cucumbers prefer well-draining soil that holds moisture. Provide slightly humid conditions. Plant in full sun and, if possible, protect from the weather. Indoor growing is best for cucumbers for best results. Grow vertically as cordons and remove any side shoots. Feed weekly with a high potash feed
Cucumbers are best grown in a cold frame, but they can also grow in a greenhouse, a home garden outside, or even on an apartment patio. This goes to show that cucumbers seem to have the ability to grow anywhere.
Types of Cucumbers to grow at home
There are two different types of cucumbers: slicing or pickling. Slicing cucumbers are known to grow up to 8 inches long, while pickling cucumbers are only known to grow up to 4 inches long.
Cucumbers have been separated into these two categories between pickling and slicing cucumbers, wherein the latter is also called the bigger cucumbers due to them tending to be softer and have more seeds.
Pickling cucumbers have black spines and thin skins, making them more suited for pickling than the bigger cucumbers. On the other hand, slicing cucumbers are large and round with thicker skins and lots of seeds, making them less suitable for pickling.
How to care for your cucumbers at home
Of course, plants have specific needs to thrive, and cucumbers are certainly no different! Below will be a much more detailed explanation of the best soil types, watering, and harvesting for your cucumbers.
Best soil to use for cucumbers at home
All types of cucumbers grow well in loose, sandy loam soil. They also grow well if you use coconut fiber with fertilizer pellets. However, cucumbers prefer fertile, rich soil. The pH of the soil should be between 5.5 and 7, but cucumbers grow best when their soil has a pH of 6.5 to 7. This also prevents fungal diseases.
If your soil is not reaching the desired pH levels, you may want to add compost, manure, fertilizer, or organic soil to your plant.
It may seem like too much work initially, but composting itself will bring many benefits to you and your garden, especially if you are growing various plants.
Compost can come from leftover food from your household as other organic materials like tree clippings are further expounded in this article that I wrote on composting for beginners. Feel free to check it here.
Rotation of cucumber plants at home and their benefits
Remember to rotate your cucumber plants each year. This preserves the nutrients in their soil and also prevents them from getting diseases. When rotated throughout the garden, they shouldn’t make it back to their original spot until at least three years have passed since being in that spot.
Watering your cucumbers at home
Cucumbers take up a lot of nutrients and a lot of water, so they will need to be watered frequently. Just like any plant, though, it is possible to overwater your cucumbers. To tell if your cucumber plant needs to be watered, put your finger into the soil to see how wet or dry it is.
If the top layer of soil is dry, that means they need more water. If they aren’t watered consistently, you will either end up with bitter-tasting cucumbers, or your cucumbers won’t grow.
Cucumbers typically only need to be watered about once a week, but this depends on the weather or the environment you are growing your cucumbers.
Harvesting your cucumbers at home
It’s important not to let your cucumbers get too big because this will also result in bitter-tasting cucumbers. It’s also important to make sure that you harvest your cucumbers before they start to yellow.
Once cucumbers start to yellow and become soft, they will be bitter and probably won’t be any good anymore for consumption.
Remember that cucumbers are one of those plants that do not continue to ripen after being harvested, so be sure only to harvest your cucumbers when they’re ready and not let their skin turn yellow.
Signs to look out for to harvest of cucumbers at home
Cucumbers typically take about 2 months after they were initially planted to be ready for harvest, and the easiest way to tell that your cucumbers are ready to be picked when they have reached the desired size and they have nice green skin.
Another way to keep track of when your cucumbers are ready to be picked is by watching the flowers. Cucumbers will be ready to harvest about a week after the female flowers have begun to bloom.
It’s funny how cucumber water can taste so much better than pickle juice, even though they come from the same source.Ellen DeGeneres
The easiest way to tell the difference between the female flowers and the male flowers is their stems. Male flowers grow in clusters on shorter, thinner stems and female flowers grow on thicker, longer stems, but there is usually only one flower on a single stem.
It is also important to note that the female flowers are the ones that produce cucumbers and the male flowers open up a week before their female counterparts.
Growing cucumbers at home
Growing cucumbers can be done either indoors or out, but for both ways, it is important to ensure that they are in a place where there is daylight. 5 hours of sunlight is enough to make them flourish, and if indoors, choose a spot wherein they can receive full sunlight.
It may be best to do some more research on the specific plant you want to plant with your cucumbers to see how much space they take up, what kind of insects they attract, etc.
Growing Cucumbers at home indoors
If you want to start your cucumbers early before frost has gone away for spring, you can start them in a pot indoors. Of course, you can also actually grow your cucumbers indoors, but there is a little bit more work involved.
Since your cucumbers are indoors, you don’t have bees to pollinate your flowers, so you have to hand pollinate them, or you won’t be able to grow any cucumbers.
It also may be a good idea to hand pollinate your cucumbers if you have your plant outdoors, but it’s not receiving as much attention from the bees as other plants may be. Hand pollination can also allow for a bigger yield, even if you have bees buzzing around, doing their job.
Hand pollination process for cucumbers
There are two ways to hand pollinate your cucumber flowers. However, the best way to hand pollinate your cucumbers is with a paintbrush. To pollinate your flowers, you locate the yellow pollen in your male flowers first thing in the morning, when the flowers open up for the day.
You take your paintbrush, gently roll it in the pollen from the male flowers, then paint the pollen onto the centers of your female flowers.
The other way to hand pollinate your flowers is by picking the male flower, breaking off the flower petals, and gently rolling the yellow pollen onto the centers of the female flowers.
Growing Cucumbers Vertically at home
Cucumbers are a vine crop, so if you plant them on the ground and grow, they can become a tangled mess. So while this may be how they traditionally grow, it may not be the most beneficial way to grow them in your garden.
Here are the benefits of growing cucumbers vertically:
|It allows you to save space for other plants.||Leaves are more exposed to sunlight, which also means they will dry faster if they get wet.|
|You will be able to see pests and diseases before they can harm your cucumber plant.||It is easier to check whether or not your cucumbers need to be watered.|
|It is easier to spot cucumbers that are ready to be harvested.||You are better able to find dead leaves or areas that need pruning.|
To grow your cucumbers vertically, you will need one of these three things: a trellis, wire fence, or garden netting.
As your cucumbers start to grow, you can wrap the vines around the supporting object to help train them to climb. However, it is important to keep in mind that wire ties, twine, and string can cut into cucumber vines and potentially kill them.
Beneficial Crops to Grow With Cucumbers at home
Since cucumbers require so much water and many nutrients, some plants cannot grow with them, such as trees and potatoes.
However, there are crops you can grow alongside your cucumbers that will actually be beneficial to the health of your cucumbers.
Root vegetables are really good plants to grow with cucumbers at home
These types of vegetables are an incredibly great use of the top layer of soil that your cucumbers aren’t using.
Since cucumbers grow roots up to a foot long underneath the ground, if you grow root vegetables, they won’t interfere with the growth of your cucumbers. Root vegetables will only use that top layer of soil, which the cucumbers’ roots are too long to use.
Consider growing dill and marigolds with cucumbers at home
Dill and marigolds are also beneficial to have in your garden alongside cucumbers. Dill attracts beneficial insects (such as bees, wasps, etc.), while marigolds repel common pests (such as aphids).
Consider surrounding corn stalks and sunflowers around pickling cucumbers
If you are growing pickling cucumbers, the growth of corn stalks and sunflowers near and around your cucumbers can act as a natural support for your cucumbers.
However, it’s important only to do this with pickling cucumbers because the vines and growth of the cucumbers on the vines may be too heavy for the corn stalks or the sunflowers to hold up.
These aren’t the only crops that can be grown to benefit the health and growth of your cucumber plant, but this does go to show that it might not hurt to plant some other seeds or saplings near or around your cucumbers.
Conclusion on whether cucumbers are easy to grow
In conclusion, it is possible and relatively easy to grow cucumbers at home. They are actually a great starting plant for a novice gardener. However, any level of gardener can care for cucumbers at home and have success as long as they meet their plant’s most basic needs.
Whether it be choosing to do it indoors or outdoors really depends on the amount of space your home has, but hopefully, these tricks and tips will encourage you to try growing them for yourselves and get to have a bountiful harvest grown by your own hands.
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