*Cucumbers have come a long way in the past 20-30 years. They used to be disease-ridden, prone to give indigestion, etc. Now, however, there are TONS of varieties to experiment with and the problems have been taken care of.
*They like warm weather but not intense, dry heat. They are not frost hardy, but since they grow and mature quickly, it is easy to get a crop even with a short season as long as you plant them in the full sun.
*You need to think carefully about where your cucumbers will grow. These plants have long vines that take up a lot of room. One plant, however, produces plenty of cucumbers, so you shouldn’t need more than a 6x9 foot plot for each six plants you grow (6 plants should be plenty for most families…unless you are cucumber crazy).
*It is often a good idea to grow these plants vertically to save space and also to give you healthier, cleaner veggies. You can grow them up a fence, use stakes, use trellises, etc. Simply remember that it is a big, heavy vine so the support needs to be strong.
*You will get the highest yield of cucumbers in a clay soil with plenty of humus. However, a sandy loam will warm up quicker and give you a faster, earlier crop.
*Prepare soil by adding plenty of compost or well-rotted manure, because cucumbers like a fertile soil. The pH levels should be between 6.0-6.5.
*You can start cucumbers indoors two weeks before planting if you want to extend the season, but do not bother with this unless you can keep your seeds at 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit by day and no colder than 60 degrees at night. Otherwise, just wait until the soil has warmed up and plant outdoors.
*If you sow directly in the garden, plant them either in hills/clusters or rows, about ½ inch deep. Rows work better if you are using vertical support. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, thin to a foot apart in the row, with rows about 3 feet apart.
*If the ground and air remain cold, protect your cucumbers with some type of heat-conserving device/cover. Be sure to remove these covers when the female blossoms appear so that they can be pollinated.
*Mulch is a great idea with cucumbers. Those that lie on the ground are better protected from rot and disease if they lie on the mulch; the mulch will keep the soil evenly moist; and mulch keeps down the weeds. Weeding your cucumbers can damage a cucumber to the point where the whole plant dies, so it is very important to keep weeds down with mulch.
*When the cucumber plants are about a foot high, give them a liquid seaweed fertilizer boost.
*Give your plants a good soak if the weather is particularly dry.
*The worst pest for cucumbers is the cucumber beetle. They not only damage the plant by chewing them, but also go from plant to plant and spread diseases. Pick off any beetles you find and check the flowers and leaves of the plants for more. It is easiest to do this in the morning, because the beetles move slower then.
*Cucumbers are one of the vegetables that HAVE to be picked whether you need them or not. Do not stop picking them. If they yellow on the vine, the plant will stop producing any more cucumbers. Do not let the cucumbers exceed the size that is dictated by your specific seed packet.
*Twist the mature cucumbers off gently or snip them off with clippers, but use two hands and be careful not to break the fragile vines.
**Borage, French and pot marigolds, if planted nearby, will encourage pollinating insects.
**Basil is said to reduce powdery mildew.
**Dill is said to be good for the plant’s health in general.