Because they are so easy to grow and have so many culinary uses, include cucumbers when you are starting with your raised bed vegetable garden.
They generally fall into 2 category types...pickling and slicing cucumbers. Most cucumbers are of the vine type and send out runners, but there are also some varieties of bush cucumbers that can be easily grown vertically as shown below.
Cucumbers like warmth and need plenty of sunlight. When planting cucumbers do not plant them too early in spring unless your are starting from seed indoors. Wait till temperatures reach between 60° and 70° F when you plant them outdoors since even the slightest frost will kill or damage the plants.
Like the other vegetables in the cucumber family (the cucurbits), for example zucchini , pumpkins, and melons, they are heavy feeders and need to be supplemented well with nutrients. Work organic matter (compost, well-rotted manure) into the soil before to planting, and fertilizers will not be needed early on. But when they begin to blossom and fruit appears, add a balanced soluble fertilizer to help them produce their potential of thriving cucumbers in large number.
To maintain an even amount of soil moisture, water often and never let the soil dry to the point that the leaves wilt. It's a good practice to spread mulch around the base of the plant to 3 to 4 inches deep as the vines mature. For optimum production warm moist soil is essential so some growers will implement dark plastic mulch around the cucumber bed. Not only will these speed up growth and facilitate better production of cucumbers in number and size, but it also aids in suppressing weeds. Another popular method of growing cucumbers is by the "vertical" method. You can train the vines to climb a trellis or garden netting for several advantages over the ground growing method:
- It frees up space for other veggies nearby. This is perfect for raised beds that depend on optimum usage of space.
- They are less likely to be affected by soil-borne fungal wilts and pathogens because of a cleaner area around the base of the plant
- They also become less prone to disease in humid areas because the leaves dry faster after precipitation and fog
With this method you will train the vines to grow up a supporting structure by gently guiding them with soft cloth ties or gardening tape being sure to twine around the support creating loose loops that allow for at least an inch of space for the vine stem to grow.
Cucumbers are ready for harvest in about 60 to 70 days after planting. Cucumbers need to be harvested when they are young and tender as they get bitter as they grow bigger. The slicing type cucumbers can be harvested when they are 6 to 8 inches long while pickling types are gathered at around 5 inches.