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Growing Cucumbers

I’ve included cucumbers as part of my own warmer weather garden in raised beds for the past seven years. My preference to go with regular cucumber and pickling varieties. Over time, like most crops I try to grow high up in the mountains of New Mexico, I have learned what works through trial and error. I will link all of you to an article so you won’t have to go through that. But here is what I have learned in order to successfully grow cucumbers.

Propagation:

Starting around now, the beginning of February, I use the method of moistening the seeds that are placed in a folded paper towel and sealing in a plastic baggy. The bags are labeled and set in a spot indoors where they are exposed to sunlight for a few hours. The seeds should begin to root within 3-4 if they are not too old.

Potting:

After roots have appeared I plant in pots with good light potting soil about ¾” deep and exposed next to a window with a lot of light. The soil helps retain the moisture that the seedlings need at all times. I will monitor the growth as the last frost date approaches (early May here) and re-pot in a bigger container if needed.

Roughing:

This is an important step in April when the plants are introduced to the outdoors, gradually increasing exposure to cold temperatures and breezes from an hour a day to a few before bringing them in for the night.

Garden Placement:

Like any other squash cucumbers flourish more in sunny areas. If you have a covered greenhouse, like me, be mindful of this when planting to ensure a productive crop. This is sometimes a challenge because tomatoes also like many hours of direct sunlight. As the article advises, plant two seedlings per square foot. I have always spread them further apart but am going to try this to see if it works in maximizing production.

Trellising:

When growing my first crops I let the vines just spread all over the raised beds. It made for a nice photo but also choked out other crops I was trying to grow, robbing them of sunlight and needed water. Since then, I’ve alternated between two other methods to train the vines to grow up in order to save the space for other plants: tomato cages and rabbit fencing supported by metal stakes. I may opt for the latter this year since it would be hard to fit two cages in a square foot area.

Harvesting:

After 3 months or so, you will notice that some of the yellow blossoms have what looks like little cucumbers taking their place on the vine. If you blink your eyes too long, they are suddenly                      8” long x 1 ½” in diameter. It’s time to pick them before they yellow and get bitter. Here is the thing, the more you pick, the more they come. You will be assaulted by cucumbers unless you find something creative to do with them. I’ve pickled in as many as eight large jars in the past. Others we give away or just eat lots of cucumber salads which we don’t tire of.

So there it is. For more information on what was and wasn’t covered here, please go to this link:

https://www.thespruce.com/growing-cucumbers-in-container-gardens-848163