Whether you call them cucumbers or zucchini where you are, the fact remains that cucumbers are among the easiest vegetables to grow on your own time and the results can be outstanding. They are massively popular among gardeners, and this is in no small part down to just how easy they can be to grow. With that said, they turn out better with a few tips and tricks, and that is precisely what we’re going to focus on today. There are some considerations before you even plant the seeds, and a few additional tips to follow that ensure the best possible results.
1. Start with a Disease Resistant Cucumber Type
If it is the ease of growth and maintenance that has attracted you towards growing cucumbers in the first place, you want to make sure that you cut down on the amount of work you put in. Part of this is the avoidance of pesticides and treatments, so it makes sense to go for a type of cucumber that is naturally disease resistant. Like anything else, some of the vegetables have evolved to combat or become immune to diseases in their own right, and if they can handle that on your behalf, you can focus instead on the more entertaining aspects of cucumber growth.
2. Get Your Positioning and Soil Right
If the thought of growing cucumbers has crossed your mind, the chances are that you already have a vegetable patch of sorts. In most cases, you won’t need to make any adjustments at all. The main consideration is that you choose a spot that receives plenty of sun, so it should be out of the shadow of your home if at all possible. The soil matters too, and a well-drained variety is most conducive to the best possible growth.
3. Get Growth Underway Indoors
Cucumber seedlings are resilient, but they are as susceptible to insect damage as any other plant. That means that you should take all possible steps to avoid this, and the best way is to start the growth process indoors. Put plants in individual pots in the home and tend to them as required, then move them outside when they stand a fighting chance of resisting natural predators outdoors.
4. Factor Frost into Your Timings
The biggest issue facing most cucumber growers is frost. All plants can have difficulty in such conditions, but cucumbers are among the most vulnerable. Following on from the tip above about starting the growth process indoors, it can be worth doing this while the last of the annual frost clears so that you can plant the growing cucumbers in soil that you know will stay reliably warm until they are ready to pick.
5. Give the Cucumbers Room to Grow
When the time comes to take your cucumbers outside, or if you are directly starting outdoors anyway, you should take care of positioning. Obviously, the plants will become much larger over time, and you need to take this into account when you sow them. If you’ve decided to go with the conventional row layout, your seeds should be around an inch deep under the soil and about 6 inches apart.
6. Include Soil in Your Maintenance
Cucumber plants benefit more than most from an extra helping of soil during the growth process. Wait around 4 weeks after you’ve initially planted them and then add compost or fertiliser. A couple of handfuls of good quality product will go a long way to helping your plants reach their full potential. If you go down the fertiliser route, it is always a good idea to add a layer of mulch over the top to give it the best chance to get the job done.
7. Keep an Eye Out for Insects
You’ve hopefully gone with disease-resistant varieties following on from the tips above, but any cucumber harvest is as susceptible to insect attacks as any other plants. Keep an eye out for a build-up of insects on your plants and take adequate steps as early as you can. One way to do this is to interfere with the insects’ life cycles directly, and this can be done with row covers that remain in place until the cucumber seeds flower.
8. If You Use an Insecticide, Go Natural
One of the key benefits of growing your own cucumbers is that you have full control over the growth process and the end result that you end up eating. If your insect issue becomes completely problematic, there will come a time where insecticides are the best solution. If it does come to this, focus on the use of natural pesticides that are less toxic overall. Always read the instructions too – there are plenty of pesticide options out there, and they all work in different ways. This could have an impact on harvesting dates, further maintenance and many other factors, so it pays to be aware.
9. Don’t Ignore Outside Help
If you are new to growing your own vegetables, taking on additional help and advice is not a bad thing, and you can always build on what you learn going forward. If the insect problem continues and you’re unsure of the cause or even the type of insect, there is no harm in taking one into your local garden centre to seek advice. The staff there can often assist with the right kinds of insecticide and general techniques to ensure that your crop remains largely untouched.
10. Get the Harvest Right
When it comes time to harvest your cucumbers, plenty of time and effort will have gone into their rearing, so you don’t want to throw it all away at the final hurdle. Harvest every few days for the best results to ensure a steady supply while also ensuring that the plants remain productive. Pick your cucumbers with future results in mind, and you’ll continue to benefit from the work you put into the original crop.