Cucumbers are very sensitive to cold. They need warm soil and air,
whether direct-seeded or transplanted. Don’t rush to plant too early.
Seed will not germinate if soil temperature is below 50 F, and
germinates only slowly at 68 F.
1 to 1 ½ inches deep, either in rows (2 inches apart in rows 5 to 6
feet apart) or in hills (3 to 6 seeds per hill, hills spaced 3 to 5
Thin to 8 to 15 inches apart in rows or 2 to 3
plants per hill. Snip off plants when thinning to avoid disturbing the
roots of nearby plants.
For early crops, use black plastic mulch
and row covers or other protection to speed warming and protect plants.
Direct seed into holes in plastic. Cucumbers seeded into black plastic
usually produce larger yields, as well earlier ones.
early crops, start plants inside 3 to 4 weeks before transplanting. Sow
3 seeds per pot in 2-inch pots. Thin to one or two plants per pot. Grow
above 70 F during the day and above 60 F at night. Be careful when
hardening-off plants not to expose them to cold temperatures.
with one or two true leaves transplant best. Transplant into black
plastic mulch or warm garden soil after danger of frost has passed and
weather has settled. Be careful not to damage roots when transplanting.
If using peat pots, make sure they are saturated before transplanting
and completely buried. If using row covers, remove when flowers begin
to blossom to assure good pollination.
For a continuous harvest,
make successive plantings every 2 to 3 weeks until about 3 months
before first fall frost date. About 1 month before first frost, start
pinching off new flowers so plants channel energy into ripening
To save space, train vining cucumbers to a
trellis. (Make sure the trellised plants don’t shade other sun-loving
plants.) This also increases air circulation (reducing disease
problems), makes harvest easier and produces straighter fruit. Set up
trellis before planting or transplanting to avoid root injury. Space
plants about 10 inches apart. Pinch back vines that extend beyond the
trellis to encourage lateral growth.
Most cucumbers have both
male and female flowers. The male flowers blossom first and produce
pollen, but no fruit. Other varieties produce female flowers
predominately or exclusively. Seed packs of these varieties include a
few seeds (usually marked with dye) of another variety that produces
male flowers to provide pollen. Make sure you don’t remove pollinator
plants when thinning.
Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require
fertile soil, nitrogen fertilizer, and/or additions of high-N organic
matter sources. Pale, yellowish leaves indicate nitrogen deficiency.
Leaf bronzing is a sign of potassium deficiency.
To reduce pest
and disease pressure, do not plant cucumbers where you’ve grown them in
the last two years. Choose resistant varieties to prevent many diseases
and/or trellis vining varieties to encourage good air circulation.
Bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila)
- Remove and discard or destroy infested plants. Control cucumber
beetles that spread the bacteria. (See striped or spotted cucumber
beetles.) Control as soon as they appear. Some varieties are less
susceptible to bacterial wilt but may not be readily available.
mildew - Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air circulation.
Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to improve air
circulation. In autumn, rake and dispose of all fallen or diseased
leaves and fruit. Plant resistant varieties such as Marketmore 76,
Slicemaster and Raider.
Scab - Avoid wetting foliage if possible.
Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts will dry as quickly
as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air
Cucumber mosaic virus - Remove and discard or
destroy infested plants. Plant resistant varieties such as Pacer,
Marketmore 76, Dasher II, Slicemaster, Spacemaster and Sweet Success.
Manage aphids that spread virus. Eliminate perennial weeds such as
milkweed, marshcress and yellow rocket; and avoid planting next to