Cucumber seeds should be planted in the ground no earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost since they are extremely susceptible to frost damage. Although cucumbers are warm-season vegetables, it is important to know that they might develop a bitter taste if planted in a dry site. The growth of these plants is fast, and the crop yield is abundant if you care for them properly.
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Cucumbers does not like being disturbed and can be tricky to transplant. The preferred method of cucumber planting is direct seeding in the garden after the soil has warmed as the seeds will not germinate in a soil chillier than 60 degrees. If the soil is moist and warm, the seedlings will sprout out of the ground in a matter of days.
Planting Cucumber seeds:
- Select a site with full sun and a neutral or slightly alkaline soil. You may add organic matter to clay soil or peat, compost or rotted manure if you have dense, heavy soil. Make sure the soil is moist and well-drained, not soggy.
- Sow cucumber seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart for bush types and 18 to 36 inches apart for vine cucumbers.
- Use black plastic mulch on the cucumber bed because a warm and moist soil is essential for top production. This will speed up growth and increase yields by conserving soil moisture and maintaining a high soil temperature.
- Cover your planting area with nets or berry basket to keep pests from digging out the seeds.
- If you are planting a vine cucumber, a trellis might be a good idea. This will provide support for the vine to climb on and protects the fruits from damage. Growing cucumbers vertically increases yields because the vines receive better air circulation and more sunlight than vines on the ground.
- Begin to water frequently when the seedlings emerge and increase to a gallon per week after fruit forms. Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit. Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, avoiding the leaves. This helps in preventing leaf diseases.
- Use a fertilizer which is low nitrogen and high potassium and phosphorus Apply this at planting, 1 week after bloom, and every 3 weeks with liquid food directly to the soil around the plants. Do not over fertilize as this may cause your fruits to get stunted.
- Cucumbers harvest:
- Generally, cucumbers are ready for harvest in approximately 60 to 70 days from the day of planting. Cucumbers are best picked in the morning and before the seeds become hard. Do not let them get yellow. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. Do not leave the fruits on the vine for too long or they will have tough skins and this will lower the plant’s productivity. The larger a cucumber gets, the more of its flavor is lost, becoming bitter and unpalatable. Keep harvested cucumbers in the refrigerator up to 7 to 10 days but use them as soon as possible for best flavor.