Basics for Growing Cucumbers

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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bucket filled with cucumbers

Have you heard the saying  “Cool as a cucumber”? Well, there is some truth to that saying. The inner temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20° cooler than the outside air due to its water content.

Cucumbers are vegetables that are members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae, which also includes squashes and melons. Cucumber plants grow in two forms: vine or bush. Vines grow along the ground or up a trellis. Bush cucumbers grow on a compact plant.

Full sun and well-drained, loamy soil are preferred for growing cucumbers. They

are very sensitive to cold and will not germinate until the soil temperatures reach at least 60°. Seedlings should be planted 12” apart and thinned to 1.5’ apart once reaching 4” tall. If space is limited, use a trellis for vining varieties. Trellising will also give you a higher yield and improved fruit quality.

Cucumbers have two basic types—those that are eaten fresh (known as the slicing variety) and those grown for pickling. Cucumbers come in many shapes and sizes depending on the variety. Generally, smaller cucumbers contain fewer and smaller seeds. Popular varieties are Ashley, Cherokee 7, Gemini, Palomar, Poinsett, and Straight 8. In warm summer soil, cucumbers can grow and ripen in 6 weeks.

Cucumbers are best eaten raw and added to cold salads, sandwiches, wraps, dressings, spreads, or dips. They can also be served with hummus, salsa, or low-fat dressing for a dip. Cucumber has an anti-inflammatory effect and slices placed over your eyes can help reduce puffiness, hydrate the skin, and refresh them!