The cucumber is one plant I love because of its nutritious and edible cylinder-shaped fruits and its ease of cultivation indoors or outdoors. I will recommend the cucumber plant for a family garden for anyone. It is fun growing, caring for, and monitoring the cucumber plant, especially with children, to help you in the garden.
They can be found widely across the world in regions such as Africa, South Asia and North America. Growing and caring for the cucumber plant will require technical knowledge as a first-timer. I got to find this during my first time venturing with planting cucumber plants, but I will guide you, so you can avoid making a similar mistake I made during my first experience.
They grow quickly and can be cultivated outdoors and indoors in suitable conditions. So it will be a wise economic plant if you consider a commercialized garden and regularly receive nutritious fruits.
Planting the Cucumber Plant
You can start growing the nutritious and tasty cucumber plant in your garden with the following guide:
Stages of Cucumber Cultivation
Cucumber is usually cultivated with seeds, which you should plant in the nursery before transplanting to the field. To provide proper care, you must understand the stages of cucumber plant growth as shown below:
- The germination stage is between 3-5 days; the root shoots out during this period. The germination rate depends on the temperature, as faster growth is expected with higher temperatures.
- The seedling stages begin when the first leaves appear, and the plant eventually develops more leaves.
- The flowering and fruit stage is when the plant begins producing flowers (male and female) and fruits.
- The harvesting stages take 50-70 days, depending on the species. It is best to harvest when the outer body is still green, for the over-ripe with the outer part becoming yellow. Overripe cucumbers are usually bitter and not as sweet as ripe ones.
Temperature and Light for Growing Cucumber Plant
The cucumber plant loves a warm environment and does exceptionally well in the summer at temperatures of 15C (60F) and 21C (70F). They are not frost resistant, but you can plant them indoors during winter with the proper temperature settings.
Cucumber basks in full and direct sunlight, and under such conditions, they will blossom and provide a bountiful harvest. For indoor cultivation, place them by the window directly to sunlight. During the winter, you can source artificial lighting in the room to sustain the plant.
Spacing Requirement for Growing Cucumber Plant
Cucumber plants will require more or less space depending on the cucumber being propagated. The vining cucumber, which is the typical type, usually grows properly on a trellis and hanging on fences. In comparison, the bush cucumber can be grown indoors in planting pots or containers but will require some space to grow upwards.
Soil Requirement for Cucumber Plant
The cucumber plant will thrive on warm soil with the capacity to retain water since it requires enough moisture to grow fast—soil with a pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.6, which is slightly alkaline. You can treat soils to meet these requirements, but you should avoid clay soil for cucumber plants, especially for indoor cultivation.
Watering for Cucumber Growth
Cucumber requires consistent watering to grow fast with good fruits. Experts believe a cucumber plant requires at least one inch of water per week to attain its potential growth. Water the plant sparingly in the morning and early afternoon, and avoid watering directly on the leaves.
Soil improvement may be needed for specific soil types, especially indoor gardening, to make the soil rich enough. Use suitable vegetable fertilizers to help the soil maintain moisture, provide the necessary nutrient requirement for growth, and produce fruits.
Using Companion Plants
There are certain plants, known as companion plants, that can be planted along with cucumber plants to help them grow. These companion plants provide shade, protect the plant against weeds and diseases, and provide nutrients for the plant. You can learn more about companion plants and the best companion plants for cucumber cultivation here.
How to Plant Cucumber
- Sowing the seed to at least 1 inch deep in the soil and 3-5 feet apart. Space them 1 foot apart using vines on a trellis or fence to give them enough space to grow.
- For those planted on mould or hills, give them space 1-2 feet apart. Then when they have grown to over 4 inches high, place one plant per mold or pot.
- For those planting in colder regions, you should keep the soil warm by covering it with plastic before planting.
- Ensure you practice pest control by mulching the soil using straws, chopping leaves, or other organic approaches.
- Using a trellis if you have limited space will help provide enough space to grow and protect the fruit from damage. Trellis also help to keep the fruits clean and fresh as they rise above the ground.
- It is advisable to cover freshly planted cucumber seeds with a row cover or berry basket to protect them from pests. Rats and other pests might feast on your seeds if they are not protected.
Pest and Disease Control
Cucumber plants are generally affected by fungi and insects, which are observable in their appearance. Some typical features of these pests include brown, yellow, purple, and black spots on leaves and stems. Some other visible signs of pests and diseases affecting the plant include stunted growth, distorted flowers, noticeable water spots on leaves and plant parts, holes appearing in leaves and flowers, and other abnormal occurrences.
Some of the best ways to combat this pest and diseases control include handpicking or removing affected plants and flowers. You should also seek advice on using resistant variety and insecticidal soaps and materials to fight off pests and diseases.
Harvesting and Storage of Cucumber Fruit
Cucumber plants start producing fruits after 50-75 days of planting. You must harvest the plant early before they get too big as they will taste bitter. Using a knife or clipper, harvest by cutting the fruit just above the fruit stem; pulling the fruit forcefully will damage the vine. I had a painful experience damaging a vine that would have yielded more cucumber fruits by trying to pull out fruit from it.
Use the cucumber as soon as you pluck it, for you will experience the best taste when fresh from the garden. Also, failure to pick the cucumber as they mature may prevent the vine from producing more fruits.
Furthermore, you can store it in the refrigerator for about ten days to maintain its freshness or cover the remaining portion when sliced to prevent dehydration of the fruit and maintain its freshness. It is best practice and advisable to cover harvested cucumber fruits in a plastic bag to keep them fresh and maintain this condition before they are ready to be used.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take For the Plant To Grow?
It will take about ten days to germinate with the right conditions, including the soil types, temperature, and lighting. And you will have a well-groomed cucumber in about 50-70 as you can start harvesting.
Do All Cucumber Grow with Vines?
Yes, the cucumber plant grows with a vine; however, the difference in species, such as the bush and vine cucumber, is the size of the vine. The vine cucumber is more prominent and more conspicuous than the bush cucumber.