Garden Cucumbers

By Evan Schoenfish

Cucumbers, either for pickling or slicing, have become one of the most popular planted crops in today's home garden. Cucumbers require substantial growing space however, they can still be grown in small gardens by training vines onto vertical structures that conserve garden space. The cucumber ranges in size from the small gherkin type to the long, thin slicing variety.

Creating a Growth Promoting Climate

Cucumbers thrive best at relatively high temperatures, 65-75 degrees F being the ideal temperature range. The plants have a low tolerance to frost. Since it is a quick-growing crop, it must be well supplied with moisture and plant nutrient elements throughout the growing season. They can be grown successfully in many types of soils. The preferred soil is loose, well-drained and well supplied with organic matter and plant nutrient elements. Work in organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before planting. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Lime and fertilizers can be applied with the assistance of a soil test result sheet as a guide. Contact your county Extension office for information on soil testing. Before planting, you should add a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or similar analysis according to label recommendations. One week after blossoming begins, and again three weeks later, use a high nitrogen fertilizer to side-dress the hills. Do not over fertilize as this encourages vine growth and retards fruiting.

Cucumber pic 2

Picture from:


You can gain growing time by starting the plants indoors 10 to 14 days before anticipated planting time. Use peat pots or pellets and avoid disturbing roots when transplanting. Planting outside should be delayed until the danger of frost has passed in the spring. Cucumber seeds can be planted in hills consisting of four or five seeds per hill spaced at 4 to 5 feet apart. They can also be planted in rows 2 to 3 feet apart with rows 5 to 6 feet apart. Certain varieties make excellent container plants.

Some suggested varieties for Ohio gardens are Sweet Slice Burpless, Straight 8, Poinsett, Dasher II and Marketmore 80 for slicing. Boston Pickling are good for pickles and Bushmaster and Spacemaster are good for container gardening. Unusual varieties include Lemon, a small yellow type, and Armenian, a long, slender, sweet variety. There are many new and excellent hybrid varieties available as well. Refer to the end of tthis fact sheet for varieties and their characteristics.

Cucumber Pic 3

Picture from:


Cucumbers are ready for harvest 50 to 70 days from the planting date. Depending on the cucumbers intended use, harvest on the basis of size. Cucumbers that reach the yellowish stage become bitter and they should not be allowed to reach this size. Harvest by cutting the stem 1/4 inch above the fruit. Do not disturb the vines any more than necessary to harvest the crop. Frequent picking of cucumbers is very important as they grow and reach optimum quality at different times. Delayed harvest results in reduced quality products and less productive plants because fruiting is an exhaustive process for the plant.

Cucumber Pic 1

Picture from:


Ohio State University Extension Fact sheet

University of Illinois Extension