Cucumbers can make a great addition to a vegetable garden, especially in sunny and warm climates. The crisp, cool cucumber is great raw but is also a mainstay for gardeners looking to preserve or pickle their Summer bounty. Cucumbers generally take between 50-70 days to mature and bear fruit. Weather and soil temperature impact how quickly cucumbers grow.
How Many Days Does It Take for Cucumbers to Grow?
Cucumbers are usually harvested when the fruit is still relatively immature. If allowed to grow to full size, the most common cucumber varieties will have tough yellow skins and large bitter seeds. Most cucumbers will reach maturity no later than 70 days after planting. However, some cucumbers can grow in as little as 50 days if the conditions are right.
There are several factors that impact the growth timeline of cucumbers in the garden. These include soil temperatures, method of seed starting, soil quality, weather, and cucumber variety. The growth and yield of your cucumber patch can be increased with proper care and maintenance, especially consistent watering, full sun, and fertile soil.
How Do I Count The Days to Maturity?
“Days to Maturity” can be found on cucumber seed packets, but these are still only rough guidelines. Several factors will need to be considered before forming a guess at when you can harvest. Many times, days to maturity are based on the date of the last frost, which will be different depending on where you live, and what kind of weather is typical of that region. Some of the variations in maturity dates are due to different types/breeds of cucumbers, while another big factor is the method used when starting seeds. There are two ways to start seeds: Indoor Start and Direct Sow.
Indoor seed starting has a high germination success rate. The seedlings are well-protected from inclement weather that increases the chance of seed rot, pest damage, and diseases. Cucumbers can germinate easily in a sunny window or greenhouse. Plant cucumber seeds at the outer edge of the planter, about half an inch deep in the soil. Soil should be moist, with more frequent waterings once seedlings appear, and feature two “true” leaves. Seedlings grown indoors should be given a chance to “harden off” prior to planting in the ground.
Cucumber seeds can be directly sown into the grown if the soil is warm. This usually means no earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost. Gardeners may also elect to warm soil by using plastic sheeting or ground covering prior to planting. Germination is highly dependent on the soil temperature. The warmer the soil, the faster the seed will sprout. It is also important that soil temperatures do not vary widely once the seed is planted; cucumber seedlings are susceptible to cold snaps and extremely wet or flooded soil. If the weather is an unpredictable factor (and it often is), starting seeds indoors may be the best method to get your plants off to a healthy start.
How Does Temperature Impact Seed Germination and Growth?
Cucumbers love warm temperatures and high light conditions. The warmer the soil, the faster the seeds will germinate and grow. For example, cucumbers grown later in the season, when temperatures climb from 80°F to 90°F ° cucumber seeds can sprout in as little as three days. Cucumbers grow quickly in the heat and will need to be watered consistently, about an inch per plant per day.
For those using indoor methods for seed starting, warming mats can provide additional heat to encourage rapid seed germination. If the indoor space lacks good lighting, consider setting up glow lights to encourage growth.
Where Should I Plant Cucumbers?
Because cucumbers need a lot of sun, cucumbers should be planted in an area that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Cucumbers thrive with consistent watering but do not like to be soggy, so a moist yet well-draining garden bed or container is a must. Cucumbers can be planted to climb a trellis, which is great for gardening in small spaces and can also function as a clever way to keep fruiting cucumber vines off the ground. Trellising also helps to increase airflow around the growing cucumbers.
Cucumbers require fertile soil. Some gardeners elect to plant cucumbers in “mounds” that have multiple seedlings growing together in a mixture of compost, soil, and straw. This method helps retain water and soil nutrients.
For best results, compost should be added to the soil prior to planting. Cucumbers would do best in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Cucumbers also benefit from fertilizer use.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Cucumbers?
Because cucumbers prefer warm soil, it is best to plan to direct sow or transfer seedlings no earlier than 2 weeks after the final frost date as recorded for the nearest USDA growing zone. Cucumbers are very susceptible to frost damage and can even stop growing if night temperatures dip below 60°F. Usually, the best time to plant cucumbers is March or April, but some may elect to start seeds indoors as early as February to ensure an early crop, especially those with access to a heated greenhouse or warming mat.
Seeds can be started indoors about 3 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Once the seed has sprouted two true leaves, it is ready to be “potted on” to a larger pot. The seedling is ready to plant outside once it is about 12 inches tall. When planting out seedlings from indoors, make sure to harden off the plants in a sheltered outdoor area for a few days before planting outside.
How Do I Plant Cucumbers?
Here are the basic steps to follow to plant cucumber seedlings.
- Sow cucumber seeds of choice, either indoors or directly planted outside. Remember to only sow seeds directly into warm, fertile soil (at least 70°F). Seeds should be sown 1 inch deep, about 3-5 feet apart in rows or mounds. If using the mound planting method, you can use up to three seeds per mound. Always check the seed packet for more specific instructions.
- Add a trellis if the cucumber variety is vining or if desired. A trellis is great for small gardens. Trellising can also protect from pests and disease by keeping the fruit off the ground.
- After planting, mulch around the plant with straw or compost. This helps with pest control and keeping the bottom of the plant dry. Mulch will also keep the soil temperature stable.
How Do I Take Care of My Garden Cucumbers?
Cucumbers need lots of sunshine and water. Cucumbers have very high water content, and the plants need roughly an inch of water per week. Consistency is key with cucumbers! More frequent watering is a necessity during peak temperatures. For best results, water your cucumbers in the morning and avoid overly soaking the leaves. Using a soaker hose or irrigation system can help keep watering manageable.
Cucumbers are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including the cucumber beetle, aphids, and powdery mildew. Using fertilizer can help your cucumber plants fend off disease and can also help the plant produce good, ripe cucumbers. Fertilizers should be applied one week after the plant begins to bloom but take care not to overdo it with fertilizer. Too much of it can stunt fruit growth.
When Can I Harvest Cucumbers?
Cucumbers grow very quickly during peak harvest season. Each cucumber vine will produce at least 10 fruits. Most gardeners will find they need to pick cucumbers every few days. Baby cucumbers are small and hard and are frequently covered in small, sharp spines. These spines are shed as the cucumber grows, turning into small raised bumps and ridges on the skin of the cucumber.
Careful monitoring of the cucumber’s size will help determine when to pick the fruit. P before it is too large, which results in a bitter taste and hard seeds. Look for uniformly green skin, firm, slightly ridged flesh, and a crisp texture. Cucumbers left on the vine will become tough and yellow.
It is best to use a knife or clippers to cut the cucumbers off the vine to avoid damage. Frequent harvest of the cucumbers will encourage more production as the plant matures. Depending on how the cucumber is being used may determine the timeline of harvest. For example, Dill pickles should be harvested at around 5 inches, while pickling cucumbers can be harvested at 2 inches.
Cucumbers are a delicious addition to a veggie patch. Because cucumbers grow best in warm climates, they make an excellent Summer crop for most regions. Cucumbers are also easy to grow with the right amount of research and preparation. Cucumbers generally take between 50 and 70 days to reach maturity, with a variety of factors that can impact growth. These factors can include methods of seed preparation, weather, soil conditions, as well as pest and disease management. Cucumbers thrive in warm, moist gardens with plenty of sunshine and heat.