Cucumbers are a refreshing and perfect snack during the summer months. It can be intimidating for new gardeners to have this addition to their garden, but growing cucumbers right in your backyard is much easier than it may seem. But should they be grown directly in the ground?
The best option to grow cucumbers is to sow them directly in your garden. The needed nutrients, sunlight, and warmth for cucumbers to grow is best found outdoors in the soil. Using other options to grow your cucumbers, such as growing them in pots, is more difficult and will not produce a higher yield than directly in the ground.
Knowing what type of cucumbers to grow and how to grow them in the ground will lead you to having a successful summer harvest.
Is it OK for Cucumbers to Grow on the ground?
Depending on the plant hardiness zone that you live in, which is measured by the climate of your area, you may be able to directly sow your seeds in the ground. In warmer climates, you would be able to plant your cucumber seeds in late Spring to have a successful harvest within two months.
In cooler climates, you can directly sow seeds two weeks after the last frost date of the season or start your seeds indoors at least four weeks before the last frost date. To prevent shock when transplanting them, bring your seedlings outside to let them have full sun, then bring them in at night. Once they are ready to be outside, it will be OK to plant them directly into the garden.
While there are some dangers to planting your cucumbers in the ground, such as mildew or pests, there are varieties of cucumbers that are resistant to these dangers. These varieties mentioned more in-depth later in the article, are easy to care for and do better outdoors than in pots.
Do Cucumbers Grow Better on the Ground?
Growing your cucumbers on the ground is the best place to have them grow. Being in the soil outdoors means they are able to have all of the nutrients, sunlight, and warmth needed to successfully grow. There is also enough space for cucumbers to grow, which is essential as most varieties need at least 12 inches of space between other plants. Having this space also allows for you to add sturdy support for your cucumbers to help them grow.
Understanding the soil that you are using when planting cucumbers is important for their success. When planted in the ground, the soil should be loose, well-drained, and have plenty of nutrients. The soil should also be between the pH levels of 6.0 and 6.5, as well as being at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There should also be enough space for the cucumbers to grow because cucumber vines can grow between 6 to 8 feet long. These vines would also need a trellis for support so that it does not intrude on your other plants in the garden.
If you are planting cucumbers in pots, the pot must be large enough to provide well-drained soil. It must also have a high enough trellis in order to get the most of the harvest. If the cucumbers are also indoors, they would need to be in an area that has full sun and is warm. While growing cucumbers in pots could be successful, there are many areas where it could go wrong, and you would have more success if planting them in the ground.
How to Select the Right Cucumber to Grow on the Ground
No matter the variety of cucumbers, they all need enough sun, warmth, and care. Choosing the right cucumber to grow depends on what you want to do with them and the conditions that the plant is in.
Slicing Cucumber Varieties
These varieties of cucumbers grow long and are less bitter in taste, which makes it perfect for slicing. They produce higher yields than other varieties and can be resistant to some diseases and mildews. Examples of slicing cucumbers are the Sweet Success and Dasher II varieties.
Pickling Cucumber Varieties
Cucumbers meant for pickling do not need as much space as slicing varieties and grow to only about 5 to 6 inches long. However, they do not produce as much as the slicing cucumbers and are a little more bitter in taste. Some pickling varieties include the Boson and Bush Pickle.
Know The Amount of Sun Needed
While most cucumber varieties need full sun, there are some that can thrive in the shade. If your garden is mostly shaded or amongst other tall plants, then having a variety that does better in the shade would be the best option for you.
Space Available in the Garden
Since most cucumber varieties have vines and need lots of space, having enough room is essential to choosing the type of variety. If you lack space in the garden, then going with a pickling or bush variety would be helpful, as they only need 2 to 3 feet of space.
An Easy-Going Experience
If you’re new to growing cucumbers or want cucumbers without all the work, then look for pickling or bush varieties. These types do not have long vines, which is the part of the plant that is most vulnerable to diseases and mildew.
How Do You Plant Cucumbers in the Ground?
Whatever variety of cucumber you choose to plant, there are steps that you should take to get the most out of the harvesting season. Knowing when and how to plant cucumbers in your garden is crucial to becoming a victorious gardener.
Don’t Plant Too Early
It is very important to understand what hardiness zone your location is in order to get the most success and harvest from your cucumbers. If you sow your seeds or transplant them before the final frost, then your plant will very likely die from the cold. Be sure to start two weeks after the final frost or start a month indoors before transplanting outside.
Choosing the Best Spot For Growth
While choosing a space for your cucumbers, look for the spot that has plenty of sun, fertile soil, and has enough room for your cucumbers to fully develop. Remember that if you choose a vine variety that will need enough space for the vines to grow, which can be up to 6 to 8 feet.
How To Sow Your Seeds Directly
If you are sowing your cucumber seeds directly into the garden, create a mound about 2 to 3 inches high. This is to prevent the plant from getting too much water if it is a particularly rainy season. Space each seed about two inches apart and an inch deep, covering with loose soil. Water thoroughly. Seedlings should begin to sprout in 2 to 3 weeks.
How To Successfully Transplant Seedlings
Using a seed tray, plant each seed into its own spot, about an inch deep. Keep it in a warm, sunny location until they are ready to be placed outside. As it starts to get warmer, bring the seedlings outside in the day to get more sun and prevent shock. When transplanting into the garden, be careful to not injure the roots, and place in a mound 2 to 3 inches tall. Water thoroughly.
Using the Correct Fertilizer
Cucumbers need enough nutrients in order to grow. While there may be some in the soil you are using; it may be needed to add to it. When you first plant your seeds or transplants, add compost or worm castings as an organic way to feed your cucumbers. There are also store-bought plant food that will work; just look for the 5-10-10 varieties to get the most out of your purchase.
Watering the Right Way
When watering your cucumbers, be generous with the amount you use. Since they need full sun, your plants will likely need to be watered frequently, at least every couple of days. To check if your cucumbers need any water, look at the first half inch of topsoil—if it is dry, it needs more water.
How To Support Your Plants
Since wide varieties of cucumbers grow with vines, they can reach large heights. Providing a trellis for your cucumber is a way to support your cucumbers and keep them off the ground. This prevents any mildew or disease that cucumbers are susceptible to. A common metal A-frame trellis is an ideal support system, but you can also DIY them.
Cucumbers are an excellent addition to any garden! Not only do they provide refreshing harvests that you can enjoy all summer long, but there are also many varieties for any level gardener to grow. Growing them on the ground is the best way to have a successful harvest season, and through the choices of cucumbers, they can be easy to care for. Starting your cucumbers in the garden requires some work but can quickly be mastered with time.