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Cucumber Seed Starting Tips

Cucumber seedlings

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Cucumbers are a tender, warm-weather crop.

Start cucumbers indoors 6 to 3 weeks before you plan to transplant them into the garden or direct sow seed in the garden 2 to 3 weeks after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed.

Plant cucumber seeds in the garden 1 to 2 weeks after the last frost, or when the soil is at least 60°F (16°C). Set cucumber seedlings in the garden 2 weeks after the last frost.

Grow cucumbers in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Cucumbers are heavy feeders and need a moderate amount of nitrogen and potassium and a high amount of phosphorus; use an organic fertilizer formulated for tomatoes. Keep the soil evenly moist during flowering and fruit development.

Good Products for Growing Cucumbers at Amazon:

Cucumber seedlings
Cucumber seedlings

Support cucumbers on trellis, poles, or cages, or plant cucumbers on hills or mounds and let plants trail and sprawl. Cucumbers grow well as a trellised crop; the fruit will grow straighter, cleaner, and healthier. Remove the lateral branches from the bottom 18 inches of the stem for the best fruit production; this strategy will delay the onset of fruits but will result in a greater number of fruits.

In short-season regions with late last frost dates, plant cucumbers as soon as peas and spinach are finished.

Cucumbers are very sensitive to frost so time your final planting in summer so that fruits come to harvest a few weeks before the first expected frost.

Cucumbers mature 55 to 65 days after sowing.

Cucumber seedlings grow plant
Cucumber seedlings in the garden

Cucumber planting details

  • Sowing depth: 1/2 inch (12mm) or slightly more
  • Space between plant after thinning: 12-24 inches (30-60cm)
  • Days to sprout: 8-12
  • Days to harvest: 50-70
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks
  • Seeds per 100-row feet: 3/4 ounces
  • Yield per 100-row feet: 600 fruits
  • Suggested varieties: Slicers: Marketmore, Bush Champion, Salad Bush, Diva; Picklers: Pickalot, Pioneer, Northern Pickling; Others: Suyo Long, Lemon, Armenian; For containers: Pot Luck, Spacemaster, Salad Bush.

Cucumber sowing and planting tips

  • Grow cucumbers from seeds or seedlings.
  • Seed is viable for 5 years.
  • Start cucumbers indoors 6 to 3 weeks before you plan to transplant them into the garden. Direct sow seed in the garden after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 65°F (18°C).
  • Sow seed indoors in peat pots filled with seed starting mix. The indoor temperature should be greater than 70°F (21°C) during the day, and 60°F (16°C) at night.
  • Sow seed ¾ to 1 inch (1.9-3.8 cm) deep.
  • Seeds will germinate in 5 to 7 days at 68°F (20°C) or warmer. Cucumber seeds will not germinate at a soil temperature below 50°F (10°C).
  • Space plants in the garden 12 inches (30 cm) apart in rows 24 inches (60 cm) apart.
  • Put a trellis, cage, or pole in place to train vines up or plant on hills or mounded soil—3 plants to a hill and allow plants to sprawl.
  • Water to keep the soil from drying; fruit development requires uninterrupted moisture.
  • Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of transplanting.
  • Cucumbers prefer a soil pH range of 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Grow cucumbers in full sun for the best yield.
  • Plant cucumbers every 2 weeks until midsummer for a successive harvest.
  • Sow seeds for the final crop in summer no later than 12 weeks before the first expected frost.
  • Avoid planting cucumbers where melons or squash have grown recently.
  • Common cucumber pest enemies include aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borers, slugs, and snails.
  • Common diseases include bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and cucumber mosaic.

Interplanting: Plant cucumbers with bush beans, corn, dill, eggplant, lettuce, melon, squash, and tomatoes.

Container growing cucumbers: Choose a container 8 inches (20 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep. Use a trellis or support to increase yields.

Young cucumber plants plant grow
Young cucumber plants

Cucumber planting calendar

Starting cucumbers for summer harvest

  • 6 weeks before the last frost in spring: start seed indoors.
  • 4 weeks before the last frost in spring: warm planting beds where cucumbers will grow by covering with black plastic or covering with a plastic tunnel.
  • 2 weeks before the last frost in spring: transplant seedlings into warmed planting beds and protect them with a plastic tunnel; minimum soil temperature should be 60°F.
  • 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring: direct sow seed in the garden or set out transplant unprotected.
  • Every 3 weeks sow succession crops.
Cumber seedlings
Start cucumber seed indoors 3 weeks before the last frost or outdoors 3 weeks after the last frost.

Cucumber planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Feb. 15-Mar. 15
Feb. 8Feb. 15-Apr. 1
Feb. 18Feb. 15- Apr. 15
Feb. 28Mar. 1-Apr. 15
Mar. 10Mar. 15-Apr. 15
Mar. 20Apr. 1-May 1
Mar. 30Apr. 10-May 15
Apr. 10Apr. 20-June 1
Apr. 20May 1-June 15
Apr. 30May 15-June 15
May 10May 20-June 15
May 20June 1-15
May 30June 5-15
June 10June 10-15

Cucumber varieties to grow

  • Cucumbers for slicing: ‘Marketmore’, ‘Bush Champion’, ‘Salad Bush’, ‘Diva’.
  • Cucumbers for pickling: ‘Pickalot’, ‘Pioneer’, ‘Northern Pickling.’ Others: ‘Suyo Long’, ‘Lemon’, ‘Armenian.’

Botanical Name: Cucumis sativus

Cucumbers are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family; other members are squash, watermelon, pumpkins, and some melons.

More tips: How to Grow Cucumbers

Garden Planning Books at Amazon:

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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