How To Grow Cucumber Plants:
Cucumbers are a mainstay in most summertime gardens in the climate zones in which they grow well. Cucumbers are common as they are used in a variety of dishes from salads to simple being sliced up and eaten with a variety of dips for snacks. They are low in calories, high in water content, and provide excellent nutrients to anyone eating them.
Moreover, cucumbers have a great history of being a plant that has been domesticated and grown in people's gardens for more than 3,000 years. Other histories show cucumbers being grown in places like Thailand as early back as 9750 BC.
Cucumbers also pickle well which means that they can be stored and used throughout the winter season and the non-growing months as well. They are popular in a variety of different cuisines and are grow and enjoyed by people all around the globe. Even many ancients such as Greeks and Romans have histories of enjoying cucumbers as part of their diets and in their daily meals. This was back early as the 18th century, and this plant continues to be popular and easy to grow in many climates, even today.
Seed Sowing Depth: Cucumber seeds should be sown at a depth about 1" and should be allotted about 36 to 60 inches of space between each set of seeds that is planted. Cucumbers should be planted on trellises as they grow to be quite large plants to produce a fully mature, grown cucumber.
When to Sow: Cucumbers should begin being sown inside approximately 3 weeks before they are transplanted outside. It's important to note that cucumbers like much warmer temperatures than many other plants. Cucumbers generally do best in a climate that is a minimum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that these plants should be planted inside in the late spring and not planted outside in most moderate climates after Memorial Day weekend, which means late May or even into early June. Cucumbers do not tolerate cold, and even cooler nights without complete frosts can damage or kill your cucumber plants.
Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: Most cucumber plants do best if they are grown indoors for about 3 weeks prior to being transplanted outdoors. Starting the plants inside in early-to-mid May for transplant around Memorial Day weekend to early-June is the best bet as these plants need an average temperature of about 70 degrees or warmer each day to grow to their full potential.
If you are just going to grow the cucumbers outdoors you will need to wait till the temperatures are consistently at or above 70 degrees to do so. This means waiting till Memorial Day or later in many mid-range climates, and sometimes even the beginning of June would be the best bet.
However, letting plants get a "head start" inside for about 3 weeks before transplanting them outside to trellises is not a bad idea, to ensure a longer growing season where you get many cucumbers out of your harvest as possible.
Plant Height & Width: Cucumber plants can grow up to 3-4" tall depending on the variety being grown. Trellises or other forms of staking the plants are recommended to help them grow upright and be able to bear the weight of a cucumber which can be several ounces up to 1 pound in weight. The average plant will need also need about 36 to 60 inches between rows of plants to ensure that they have adequate space to "bush out" as the thin stems grow and branches leaf out to allow the cucumbers to rest and grow comfortably.
Depending on the type of cucumber you are growing, that determines the amount of space and soil you will need for the cucumber to grow to it's fullest size.
Crop Description/Color: The average cucumber will end up being 8-12" long and will be about 1/2 to 1 pound in weight. The average cucumber will be a healthy, dark shade of green when harvested to ensure that it is fully matured before harvesting.
When cucumbers turn from green to more of a yellow-green color, that means that they are already overly ripened and the chlorophyll they produce has begun to die off already. Ensuring that you harvest the cucumber before it turns a yellow-green color ensures the best flavor, taste, and consistency of crop you will get.
Moreover, over ripened cucumbers will likely rot much quicker and be mushy in consistency rather than firm and moist as they would be if harvested at their peak ripeness.
Growth Habits: Cucumber plants grow to be 3-4' tall and do the best if they are supported by trellises or other staking to help hold them upright for longer periods of time. The weight of cucumbers, which can total between 1/2 and 1 pound when fully matured.
Cucumber plants will grow thin, tall stems with leaves that "bush out" from the plant and need about 36 to 60" to grow to their fullest maturity. Spacing each row far enough apart ensures that there is adequate room for each plant to grow and ensures that the cucumbers' growth are not stunted by the lack of space available in the garden or landscape in which they are planted.
General Information on Their Uses: Cucumbers are used for a variety of things from beauty products such as face masks and peels to edible uses. Many beauticians enjoy using cucumbers on skin due to its hydrating quality as much a cucumber's weight and makeup is water.
Edible uses include anything from making a great snack mixed with a variety of dips and other vegetables such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. to being a great ingredient to add and toss into a salad.
Cucumbers are also great mixed in with tomatoes and feta cheese for a simple, delicious salad that is often intermixed with a dressing for a light side dish to a meal. Cucumber sandwiches (a delicacy in England in other countries around the UK) make a great side dish or snack to an afternoon cup of tea or a before bedtime snack. Cucumbers are great between slices of bread as they offset the carbohydrates in the bread to keep it from being too high carbohydrate of a snack.
Blending cold cucumbers with other ingredients until puree often make great soups and refreshing refreshments, especially during the hottest summer months. They are best pickled in brine and vinegar mixes to last for the longest and provide the best taste when you go to enjoy them later on.Like many other vegetables, cucumbers can also be pickled and kept long-term to enjoy during months when growing them is not feasible, especially during longer northern winters. This allows you to enjoy cucumbers even when they are not in growing season.
Pests & Diseases: Pests and diseases can plague cucumbers just like they can any other plant grown in your garden if you are to not offer them proper care. The most common issues that cucumbers will face include pests like aphids which will eat the plant and kill the crops. The most common aphid is a melon aphid which are about 1/16 inch long and are yellowish to green-black in color. Aphids colonize on the plant and are able to eat the leaves of the main plant, which in turn, kill the crops that the plant is helping support. These aphids secrete a liquid which turns into mold and grows on the plant and can kill the crops that are attempting to grow there.
Cucumber beetles are another common pest that are attracted to cucumbers. These beetles thrive in mostly warm climates and they latch to the plant and a yellowish-green tints to their wings and kill the plant by lying eggs near the stem of the plant, which in turn hatch and start eating the plant for food and cause the plant to end up with wounds or holes in the leaves that often times end up killing the plant off before it produces cucumbers.
A plethora of species of whiteflies often infest cucumbers as well which alone does not cause significant crop losses, however, it take the sap out of a plant and cause the crops that are produced to be meager in size and therefore virtually unusable in recipes or when harvested. While crops will still produce, they will often not be of a usable quality.
Edible Uses & Flavors: Cucumbers are widely cultivated throughout the world and used in a variety of dishes and are completely edible in nature. Cucumbers do not pack a ton of flavor, but are a firm crop that consists highly of water and makes a great addition to any sort of salad or vegetable dish that is being made. Many people use them to make cucumber sandwiches as well, which are traditionally consumed with teas for a mid-day meal that is not too high in carbs as cucumbers are negative in calories, meaning they take more calories to digest than they are worth to the human bodies.
Dieters tend to flock to cucumbers as they take more calories to digest than they are worth to consume. The high water content also helps provide people consuming them with great hydrating benefits and also helps fill them up without costing the person any of their day's calories. They are virtually negative calories as digesting them will consume more calories than are in the plant. This is in the same category as carrots or lettuces in the "negative calorie" aspect of things.
Cucumbers, however, do provide some nutrients such as being an excellent source of Vitamin K in the diet and also providing the body with adequate molybdenum as well as providing trace, yet needed amount of nutrients like copper, potassium, Vitamin C, phosphorus, biotin, and vitamin B1.