As this is my second successful year growing cucumbers, I am eager to teach about cucumber growing. One should start a few seasons before you are planning to harvest the cucumbers. So now (summer of 2012) would be a fine time to start working on how to grow cucumbers for spring 2013.
First, where are you planning to grow them? Got sun? Pick that spot. You are going to need to prepare that area. I make compost in my backyard, and my cucumber plants grow right near my driveway, the sunniest spot in our yard. Do a lot of digging in the area in which you plan to grow, and add amendments to the soil such as manure and compost.
If you have animal problems (like groundhogs), you might want to grow your cucumbers in a cage. See my cucumber plant below growing in a caged in area in my backyard. This spot doesn’t get as much light as the front, so it grows a little slower.
Once you have prepared the soil, you can relax a little while. Order your cucumber seeds toward the end of winter. I bought a packet of pickling cucumbers seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds in Maine. You might also want to get a packet of marigold seeds – the orange flowers are easy to grow and look pretty next to all those green cucumber leaves. I also have petunias growing near my cucumbers that my daughter bought for me on Mother’s Day at a nearby plant nursery.
When spring time comes (I start right after Passover), it’s time to plant those seeds in a seed starting mix. I soak the seeds first (for a few hours), then I add them to little seed containers (see right side of top photo). You can use your fingers to poke down the seed; cucumber seeds are on the larger side and easier to handle than other seeds. Keep taking care of those seed containers until around Mother’s Day. That’s a good time to plant them in the ground. Make sure you have at least one true leaf of the cucumber plant showing before planting the seedling.
Then the fun part begins – your cucumber vines begin to grow, so you can drape them over sticks and other supports. When you see a yellow cucumber flower like this one, you are so close to getting a cucumber:
Keep watering the base of your cucumber plant every few days, and add some compost or manure once every two weeks to the bottom of the cucumber plant. Your plants need to be fed just like humans need food and water. The cucumbers start to grow out of those flowers. At first, they look like tiny little tubes. But have patience, and you soon get your big cucumbers.
I either pickle my cucumbers, eat them in a salad with tomatoes, or eat them straight up, skin and all.
Have you ever grown cucumbers? Any other vegetables? Words of advice?