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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Growing Cucumbers: Feeding, Planting, Disease Control, Trellising and Pollinating

Growing Cucumbers: 
 Feeding, Planting, Disease Control, Trellising and Pollinating

Seed Starting:

Cucumbers really enjoy the warm weather. As your garden is transitioning from cool weather crops to the warms season crops... you might not have room cleared for your cucumbers. I highly recommend starting your cucumber seeds in 8 ounce or larger cups. It is true that cucumbers don't like to be transplanted but that is more about starting them in little seeds cells like you probably used to start your tomatoes. Cucumbers will out grow those little cells too fast but larger cups are effective.

Creating Cucumber Transplants

You can save yourself a couple weeks of time by letting your cucumbers germinate and grow in cups. Not only will you have nice transplants for your garden when space opens up... you don't have to worry about the seeds germinating in the ground. There is no risk of losing time and having to replant because the seeds don't come up.


Cucumbers are heavy feeders and they need a lot of moisture. There are several products you can use to amend your soil. In general, it is a good idea to dig out a 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep hole or larger to prepare the planting hole. There is no exact recipe and you can use what you like but here is the basic idea.

  1. Mix in 2 large shovel fulls of organic matter like peat moss or compost
  2. Add a small handful of lime if you are using peat moss for PH balance
  3. Add 1 or 2 tables spoons of  10-10-10 fertilizer or your organic equal
  4. Add in 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts to help prevent yellow leafing
  5. Add back in the soil you dug out and mix it in well and deep
Not only are you amending the hole with nutrients and elements to hold water but you are loosening the soil for deep root development. Epsom Salts help keep your plants green.

Curing Yellow Cucumber Leaves with Epsom Salts

Cucumbers need a good soil to start and grow but they also need a mid-season side dressing of fertilizer and some liquid fertilizer while they grow. Cucumbers really take the nutrients out of the soil. Around mid-season or when the cucumbers are bigger and have set some fruit, they will need a nutrient boost. Scatter 1-2 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of the plants and give them a 2 gallon drink of liquid fertilizer.

Your choice of products is fine. That will give them what the  need to continue fruiting and finish out the season. Here is what mid-season cucumbers look like and how you can save them.

 Saving Yellow Beat-Up Mid-season Cucumber Plants

Pests and Diseases:

Cucumbers are very susceptible to powdery mildew, mites and white-flies. The best way to address these problems is by using a baking soda spray on the leaves to control powdery mildew and a soapy water spray on the undersides of the leaves and stems to manage mites, white-flies and other soft body insects.

  1. Spray your plants 1x weekly to prevent powder mildew and address soft-bodied pests
  2. Spray your plants daily for 3 days if you notice powdery mildew or pests

Identifying at Treating Cucumber Powdery Mildew

Getting Cucumbers or Hand Pollinating:

You don't have to hand pollinate your cucumbers but in some cases you may want to increase the plant's yield by hand pollination. The best way to see how to do this is in the video. Female plants have a small cucumber below the flower. Male plants do not. If the female plant is not pollinated, the tiny cucumber yellows and dies out.

Hand Pollination Cucumbers: Male & Female Flowers


Cucumbers are vines that love to grow. Trellising is the best way to grow your cucumbers. You give them a way to grow vertically. This not only saves you space in your garden, it cuts down on pests and diseases by getting the vines and fruit off the ground. There are many methods of trellising. The video shows you several ways to trellis your cucumbers.

3 Vertical Ways to Grow Cucumbers

Building a Cucumber and Vine Trellis

Cucumber Varieties:

There are many kinds of cucumbers beyond the basic 8 inch variety. I encourage you to grow a couple different varieties. Taste does vary a bit but more importantly they will mature at different times and you will get to pick them steadily over the season. I highly recommend the 'Armenian' cucumber. It has a great color and shape. You can eat the skin. It tastes like a cucumber. And it is very very prolific. The four plants that took down my trellis in the above video were 'Armenian' cucumbers.

Growing Armenian Cucumbers

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