Growing Cucumbers:
How to Grow Cucumbers Organically

Growing cucumbers correctly will produce a bountiful and ongoing crop, ensuring their irreplaceable addition to your salads all summer long. If you plant the right varieties, you can also make great pickles that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Cucumbers were first cultivated in India over 3,000 years ago and spread throughout Europe over the following centuries. They were one of the first vegetables grown by the colonists in America as well.

Cucumbers require full sun and well-drained acidic soil and can be a bit more difficult to grow than some of the easier vegetables.

Growing Cucumbers: Plant Snapshot (Cucumis sativus)

Growing Cucumbers
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae (Gourd family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 50 to 60 days after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Orient Express, County Fair, Painted Serpent, Fanfare
  • Cold tolerance: Warm Season – Will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil. Plant them at about the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Squashes, Pumpkins
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Beans, Cabbage family, Carrot, Corn, Lettuce, Marigold, Nasturtium, Onion family, Peas, Radish, Savory, Sunflower, Tomato
    • Avoid: Strong Herbs, Potatoes
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Growing Cucumbers: Planting the Seed

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Cucumbers come in two primary varieties. It's important that you decide which type you need before you buy seeds. There are pickling cucumbers, which, as you may have guessed, are typically grown for making pickles. These varieties bear short, stocky fruits.

Slicing cucumbers are longer, and should usually be grown on a trellis to keep the fruits uniform. Trellised cucumbers are also less likely to be attacked by pests and will free up space in your garden for other veggies (plus they’ll grow straighter!). You can also plant bush varieties, which will take up less space without needing to be trellised.

Cucumbers cannot tolerate even a light frost, so it's important to wait until the soil has warmed to at least 80 degrees before planting them in the garden. To get around this issue – especially in cooler climates - many gardeners start their seeds indoors about 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost and then transplant the seedlings into the garden once the soil has warmed.

Either way, be sure to work in at least an inch of compost to their garden spot before you plant them for higher yields and better taste.

Snapshot: Planting Cucumbers

  • Planting depth: about 1/2 inch for seed (1.3 cm for seeds)
  • Spacing in rows: about 12-18 inches on a trellis (30.5 – 45.7 cm); about 36 inches if you leave them on the ground (91 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: at least 70 degrees F (at least 21.1 degrees C), preferably 80 to 95 F (27 to 35 C)
  • Days to germination: 3 to 5 days
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Growing Cucumbers: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Cucumbers are 95% water and will not bear if they are allowed to dry out, so be sure to keep the soil good and moist. They also require full sun, so keeping them adequately moist as the weather grows warmer can be a challenge.

Cucumbers warmth requirement causes them to deplore frost, so do all you can to avoid it.

While they’ll likely do fine without additional fertilizing in a fertile garden, go ahead and add some organic matter when side shoots begin to emerge.

Snapshot: Growing Cucumbers

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7.5
  • Growing soil temperature: 70 to 95 degrees F (21 to 35 degrees C)
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Growing Cucumbers: Harvesting Time

Cucumbers should be cut from the vine when they have reached a reasonable size and while the fruits are still green in color. Yellow cucumbers are overripe, and will stop the production of further fruits if they are left on the vine.

It's important to cut the fruits from the vine with a sharp knife rather than pulling them. Keep in mind the variety of cucumber you've planted when determining whether the cucumber has reached the right size for picking. Remember that pickling cucumbers are much shorter when mature than slicing cucumbers. You may also find that shorter slicing cucumbers taste better!

Snapshot: Harvesting Cucumbers

  • Time to harvest: About 12 weeks
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Storing Cucumbers and Freezing Cucumbers

Cucumbers should be stored in the warmest part of the refrigerator where they will have a storage life of about one week. They do not freeze well and cannot be stored for long periods of time unless they are pickled.

To cut down on your storing requirements, harvest throughout the growing season to keep the rapidly maturing cucumbers coming.

Snapshot: Storing Cucumbers & Freezing Cucumbers

  • Storage temperature: 45 to 50 degrees F (7.2 to 10 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 80 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life: 7 days
  • Storage life (frozen): Do not freeze
  • Seed longevity: About 5 years
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Growing Cucumbers: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Cucumbers. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Armyworms
  • Crickets
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • Cutworms
  • Darkling Beetles
  • Driedfruit Beetles
  • Earwigs
  • Flea beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Leafhoppers
  • Leafminers
  • Nematodes
  • Seedcorn maggots
  • Snails/Slugs
  • Spider mites
  • Squash bugs
  • Stink bugs
  • Thrips
  • White flies
  • Wireworms

Diseases

  • Angular Leaf Spot
  • Curly Top
  • Damping Off
  • Downy Mildew
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Root Rot
  • Verticillium Wilt
  • Viruses
  • White Mold
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Cucumbers

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