Growing cucumbers in home garden is very easy. Cucumbers will grow quickly if they get full sun and consistent watering. The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, and it’s actually very popular throughout the world. Today, most of the health conscious people are trying to grow cucumbers in their home garden. And growing cucumbers in home garden can actually be a great way for having fresh vegetables.
The cucumber is actually a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames. And the plant wrap around the support with it’s thin, spiraling tendrils. There are three main varieties of cucumber namely pickling, seedless and slicing. And there are several cultivars have been created within these varieties.
Growing cucumbers is very popular among the farmers, and it is among the most common garden vegetables in the world. You can eat them either pickled or raw in salads. However, here in this guide we are going to describe about growing cucumbers organically in home garden.
Guide for Growing Cucumbers
Growing cucumbers will be easy for you if you follow these step by step guide. Here we are describing all about growing cucumbers in home garden.
Choose the Right Variety
In terms of growing style, there are actually two types of cucumber plants. One is the bush variety and another one is the vine variety.
The bush variety is ideal for small home garden (and it also grows well in containers). You can plant the bush variety successively for having continued harvest (for example after every two weeks).
On the other hand, the vining variety grows up a fence or trellis. This variety produce more and very easy to grow.
After selecting the variety you are going to grow, collect or purchase seeds. You can purchase seeds from any seed supply stores. Or you can also collect seeds from your friends or relatives. Always try to plant very high quality seeds (because this is very important for having good production).
Time for Growing Cucumbers
Cucumbers grow best in warm weather, and this plants are extremely susceptible to frost damage. You can plant the seeds indoor and transplant after last frost date if you live in the northern cooler areas. But if you live in the southern areas with tropical climate, then you can easily grow cucumbers at any time (except winter). Currently there are several varieties available which grow well throughout the year.
Preparing the Soil
Cucumbers grow well in loamy or sandy loamy soil. You need to prepare the soil with organic fertilizers for maximum yield and very good quality cucumbers. The pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 is perfect for growing cucumbers (which is slightly acidic). Cucumbers require very fertile soil for good plant growth and also for the quality and yield of cucumbers. So, prepare the soil by adding organic fertilizers in the soil. Well-rotted aged manure or home-made organic compost is ideal for growing cucumbers. But don’t use fresh manure, because it may contain harmful bacteria and may increase weed problems.
Cucumbers can be grown either by planting the seeds directly in the soil or by transplanting. Just ensure it’s full sun outside before planting. Sow the seeds about 1-1.5 cm deep. And spread out the seeds in the garden for vining varieties. The seeds will germinate faster if you soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting.
Caring for the Cucumber Plants
Cucumber plants require additional caring for better growth and good yield. Follow the steps mentioned below for taking proper care of your cucumber plants.
You need to make your soil very fertile for growing cucumbers. You can feed your plants with compost tea or other type of organic fertilizer each week.
Cucumbers require much water, so the soil should be moisture enough and yet well drained. Water your plants on a regular basis, once or twice a week.
Mulching is required for retaining the moisture level in the soil. Mulching also help to control weeds from your garden. You need to mulch the ground once it is warm enough. Chopped leaves, pine straw or any other organic materials will be good for this purpose.
Frequent, shallow cultivation with a hoe or hand tool will be enough for controlling the weeds before they become a problem. And you can continue cultivating as long as you can do so without injuring the plants (usually when the vines begin to spread between the rows). Pull the large weeds by hand, when cultivation is no longer possible.
Pests and Diseases
Sometimes pets and diseases hinders the growth and production while growing cucumbers. Spotted and striped cucumber beetles are the two major insects for cucumbers. The striped cucumber beetles eat the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit and damage the plants. These beetles may also help causing bacterial wilt. While the spotted cucumber beetle is another pest that can damage the cucumber plant.
Aphids are always a nuisance for any vegetable plant, but they are easily managed. Squash bugs may also attack the cucumber plants, especially the seedlings.
Powdery mildew is also a common problem for growing cucumbers. It’s a fungal disease and it causes powdery white spots. Applying organic pesticides or fungicides at the first sign of it’s presence will make good results.
Harvesting home grown organic cucumbers is very pleasuring. You can pick cucumbers when they reach your preferred size. Remember, plant yield will decline if you leave very large cucumbers on the vine. You can harvest often, because cucumbers generally grow very quickly. Don’t let the cucumbers get too large, otherwise they will taste bitter. But in cage of growing the bush varieties, don’t disturb the vine because the vines often send out new roots from joints in the vine (and disturbing the vine can break these roots). While harvesting, don’t pull the cucumbers because doing so may damage the vine. Use a knife or clippers for cutting the stem above the fruit. Good luck!