How to grow cucumber (and pickles!) for a beautiful harvest

growing cucumber

Cucumber is easy to grow as long as a few basic tips are followed.

Key cucumber facts

Name – Cucumis sativus
Family – Cucurbitaceae (gourds)
Type – vegetable, annual

Height – 1 ½ to 6 ½ feet (0.5 to 2 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary but well drained

Harvest – 3 to 4 months after sowing, from end of spring to mid-fall

Caring for your cucumber from seed to harvest will require you to diligently carry out a few key steps to develop well.

Also, it helps to know that cucumber and pickle are exactly the same plant! You can harvest young cucumbers and turn them into pickles!

Sowing and planting cucumber

Sowing seeds is the most common option, but it’s also increasingly easy to find cucumber plants in nurseries and garden stores.

Sowing cucumber seeds

Sow in seed holes with 3 seeds per hole from March to June.

Transplant to the growing bed in May at the earliest, since freezing still occurs before that.

  • Space plants 32 inches (80 cm) apart.

Planting cucumber seedlings

If you purchase cucumber seedlings from a nursery, plant them directly in the ground when the last frosts are past, after the middle of May.

Pruning and caring for cucumber

Cucumber careGrowing and caring for cucumbers is quite easy if adequate growing conditions are set up.

The trickiest step is pruning. If well pruned, a cucumber plant will grow well and the harvest will be plentiful.

Pruning for sprawling cucumber along the ground

This is for cucumber plants grown directly in the ground.

  • Pinch just above the second leaf, and wait for two new stems to form.
  • Pinch each of these two stems just after the 4th leaf, and then prune all following branches one leaf after each fruit.

Pruning for cucumber along a single stem

pruning cucumber and pickleOften the case for cucumber plants grown vertically in greenhouses.

  • Let the main stem grow up to about 6 ½ feet (2 meters), then pinch it at the tip.
  • Side shoots will form between each leaf, called “suckers”.
  • Along the lower 28 inches (0.70 cm), remove suckers regularly, as well as any fruits that develop directly on the stem.

Pruning for pickles

  • Picking picklesNothing special is needed other than pinching the head off just after the second leaf.
  • Harvest fruits more regularly because leaving them on the plant will lower productivity.
  • You can choose the size yourself: pickle for the small ones, and gurken for the palm-sized ones.

Common cucumber diseases

To avoid this, avoid wetting leaves. Cucumber is very vulnerable to diseases, especially powdery mildew.

In order to avoid such illnesses, water directly at the base of the plants to keep them from catching it.

Learn more about cucumber

Cucumber harvestNative to Asia, running along the ground or climbing to great heights, this exact same plant produces both pickles and cucumbers.

Cucumber likes heat and requires regular but reduced watering.

 Smart tip about cucumber

Planting cucumber in hot weather will stimulate growth.

Images: 123RF: Sergey Razbitnov, CC BY 2.0: Peter Sitte; dreamstime: Maryna Kriuchenko; Pixabay: Irina, Monika Bohr, Julia Schwab