Home-grown cucumbers are delicious and convenient. If you grow them in a container you can move them anywhere in the yard that gets enough sun. The quality of the soil is easier to control in a container, and when garden space is scarce, a container plant can yield just as much as an outdoor plant.
Step 1 - Choose the Right Cucumber Variety
Certain varieties are better for container growing than others, so check the back of your seed packet to see if it is recommended for container use. Also, some varieties are better used for pickling while others are best for eating fresh. The salad bush grows small 8-inch cucumbers, and its relatively short vines make it a good container plant. For pickling, try the midget bush pickler.
Step 2 - Prepare the Pot and Soil
Cucumbers require an environment where the water can drain well from the soil. Prepare a good, well-draining soil by mixing equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, and compost. Use a growing container with a diameter of 12 inches (standard pots generally have the same measurements for width and height) made of either plastic or clay.
Plastic pots will not need to be watered as often, since they dry out slower than the clay pots. Make sure your pot has plenty of draining holes on the bottom and line the bottom with a fiberglass filter to keep the soil from washing out of the holes. You can also line the pot with several layers of newspaper and an inch-deep layer of pebbles.
Step 3 - Install a Staking System
Cucumbers grow on vines, and giving the vines something to help them grow vertically keeps your vines from dragging on the ground. There are many different staking systems, but a tepee system works well. Place the tepee in the pot before you fill it with soil and start planting.
Step 4 - Plant Cucumber Seeds
To germinate, cucumbers need warmth. Wait until the temperature is consistently around 70 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. Fill the pot to about 1 inch from the top with a soil mixture. Sprinkle 5 or 6 seeds in the center and cover with ½ inch of soil. Water thoroughly.
Step 5 - Supply Water, Food, and Sun
After germinating, cut down the smallest seedlings, leaving the two strongest. After they reach about 8 inches, narrow down to one per pot. When eliminating seedlings, don't pull them out by the roots because you may injure the remaining seedlings' root systems. Make sure your cucumber plant gets around 8 hours of sunlight a day. Check daily for watering needs. In mid-summer, fertilize weekly after watering with a water-soluble fertilizer. Harvest regularly. Most cucumbers are sweeter when picked on the smaller side. Also, the more you harvest, the more cucumbers your plant will yield.
Tip: Our expert gardening advisor, Kathy Bosin adds, "Once you see a cucumber at almost harvest size, check your plants everyday — once they come on, they come on strong. Plan accordingly, and you can make several batches of pickles."
General Cucumber Info
These fresh, crunchy veggies always deliver taste of summer. Pickle them, slice them, or use them on your face—cucumbers are packed with nutrients.
Cucumbers are cucurbits like watermelons, pumpkins, summer and winter squash and gourds. Cucurbits are crops with sprawling vines, tendrils and large lobed leaves. Flowers on the vine are bright yellow. The plant grows two flowers, the male staminate and the female pistillate.
Cucumbers are a subtropical plant that grow well in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. They require full sun, a large area to grow, warm days and nights, and abundant water. It is possible to grow cucumbers in limited space by giving them support to grow vertically. Dwarf varieties are also available for container gardening.
Pickling cucumbers grow 2 to 6 inches.
Slicing cucumbers grow 6 to 8 inches.
Burpless cucumbers grow 5 to 15 inches .
Start cucumber seeds indoors two weeks before planting in the garden. Plant seeds in peat pots. You can also plant seeds directly in the ground.
The garden soil for growing cucumbers should be loose and well draining. Soil pH should be about 6.5. Add manure or compost to enrich the soil. Test your soil to determine the pH and nutrient level.
Cucumbers are planted in the late spring to early summer. Be sure there is no chance of frost before planting cucumber plants.
Make small mounds in the garden two to three feet apart. Plant four to five seeds in each mound. Rows are five to six feet wide. Apply mulch to the garden to lock in moisture, reduce weeds, prevent soil compaction and keep the cucumbers from rotting.
Cucumbers need slow deep watering especially for cucumber seeds. Water the cucumbers in the morning and early afternoon to allow the plant’s leaves to dry before night which helps prevent leaf diseases. Later in the season you can decrease the watering since the root systems are established.
Cucumbers are ready for picking after 60 days. Pick cucumbers before they get too big or turn yellow because they start to lose their flavor and become bitter. The cucumber plant produces more fruit when you continue harvesting.
Before planting cucumbers add a 5-10-10 fertilizer in the garden. Use fertilizer one week after blooms appear on the vines and again in three weeks. Do not over fertilize because too much encourages the vine to vigorously grow while inhibiting the growth of the cucumbers.
Pests and Diseases
There are many pest and diseases that can affect cucumber plants. Pests include aphids, pickle worms, mites and cucumber beetles. Diseases found on cucumbers are anthracnose, powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt and angular leaf spot. Cucumber beetles can do a lot of damage to plants, destroying seedlings, eating leaves and flowers and feeding on roots. The beetles also spread bacterial wilt disease and mosaic virus.
Bacterial wilt disease turns leaves brown or yellow and makes them wilt. The bacteria blocks nutrients killing the plant. To get rid of the cucumber beetle pick them off the plant and keep your garden free of leaves, weeds and debris. You can shield your cucumber plants with cheesecloth or a commercial row cover. If pest problems persist, you can use an organic insecticide for a chemical-free solution.