How to Grow Cucumbers
These tasty annuals thrive best in extremely rich and well fertilized soil. Seeds can be started indoors 3 weeks before last frost or outdoors 1-2 weeks after danger of last frost has passed. Seed germination rates are best when the soil temperature is around 85° and they severely drop when temperatures dip below 50°. Plant in full sun, 1″ deep and 8-12″ apart. Rows should be spaced 3-4′ apart. The best way to conserve on garden space with cucumbers is to trellis the young plants so they can grow up instead of spreading out. Soil pH should range from 6-7. Allow 6-10 days for germination.
Cucumbers can be harvested at just about any size but preferably around 50-60 days after planting. Green cucumbers should be dark green in color and not yellow. This indicates that the fruit is over ripe and could be bitter and less flavorful. For yellow cucumbers, harvest when the fruit is light yellow in color. Harvest regularly to continue production, and don’t forget to look under the leaves… cucumbers hide. Can be stored for a week or more in the refrigerator.
Saving Cucumber Seeds
Cucumbers are insect-pollinated. Isolation guidelines recommend ¼ mile to prevent cross-pollination. Barriers such as barns or trees may allow for a shorter distance. Leave the cukes on the vine until they become large and brown in color. Pick the fruit and let dry in a cool place for several weeks. Remove the seeds and add water. Let ferment for a couple days, stirring daily. The good seed will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Dry seeds on a paper plate and clean as needed. Seeds will be viable for 5-10 years if kept cool and dry.
- Cucumber Beetle
Wood ashes and hydrated lime mixed with water can be used as an effective spray against the pests. Radish seeds planted with the cukes will also help. You can try trapping the beetles with a shallow pan of water with cooking oil in it. Mulch plants with lots of straw. Crop rotation and floating row covers can also be useful.
- Downy Mildew
Pale green areas on the top of leaves changing to yellow, white/gray color on lower leaves, leaf edges curling inward. Consider making a chive spray or a horsetail spray. Both are beneficial to treat this disease. Treat with neem oil, making sure the crop has good air circulation and full sun.
- Aromatic Herbs