There’s no question that fresh, homegrown cucumbers are one of the best vegetables you can grow in your organic garden. They’re great for slicing, adding to salads, pickling, and more. But how do you grow healthy, crisp cucumbers?
Many Iowans love the moment when they can finally slice a cucumber straight off the vine and enjoy a crisp, cool bite. In truth, growing healthy cucumbers that taste sweet and fresh isn’t as hard as you think.
To help you go from seed to delicious, healthy cucumbers, we’ve put together some tips that will allow you to grow the tantalizing cucumbers you enjoy.
Choosing a Variety
Each type of cucumber comes in a range of varieties, so choosing the best kind for your garden may seem overwhelming at first. Most slicing cucumbers grow about 6 to 8 inches in length and the pickling varieties usually reach between 3 to 4 inches at maturity.
If you have limited growing space, you can find many bush or compact varieties of cucumbers at your local garden center or through your favorite organic seed supplier.
Starting Your Cucumbers
Many organic gardeners have success starting cucumbers inside in peat pots or in small flats. Cucumbers can be moved to the garden after a couple of weeks when the threat of frost has passed for the season.
Before moving your cucumbers to the garden, be sure to harden them in a protected location to prevent excess stress that can occur during the transplanting process. When the weather gets cool, you can cover your cucumbers for added protection.
Where to Plant Them
Cucumbers flourish in warm, humid weather, which is why they’re perfect for Iowa summers. They’ll thrive best if your soil is loose and organic.
Choose a spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight and place them there. You should also make sure your soil gets adequate drainage and is fertile. Feed your soil with good quality organic compost or worm castings to help your cucumbers grow large and crisp.
You can also apply organic fertilizer or manure to your soil so it will give your cucumbers plenty of nutrients during the growing stage.
Preparing Your Soil
Before placing your cucumbers in the ground, comb through your soil and remove rocks, sticks, or other debris that can hinder the roots. Add a good amount of organic matter, worm castings, and compost to the soil so it will be rich and nutrient-heavy.
Cucumbers can be grown on hills or in rows about an inch deep. You can thin them as necessary, which makes them easy to work with. Keep in mind that cucumbers are a vine crop, so they need an ample amount of space to spread out.
In a large garden, cucumber vines can take up several rows. If you have a smaller garden, train your cucumbers to climb a fence or trellis so you can capitalize on space. Once you train your cucumbers to climb a fence or trellis, the fruit will lift off the soil so your other veggies can grow on the ground.