Best Way to Grow Cucumbers in Raised Beds (Gardening Tips)Jump to Recipe
The summer growing season is slowing approaching and it has me excited to grow cucumbers. I have grown cucumbers for a few years now and they are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. Once they start producing, you can get a huge yield by the end of the season.
Why grow cucumbers in raised beds
Growing cucumbers in raised beds is an easy and popular way to grow your cucumbers. With raised beds you can control the soil and drainage, as well as be able to control weeds and pests better. I have found growing in garden beds is the best way to grow your cucumbers. Here are my top 5 reasons to grow cucumbers in raised beds.
- Improved soil quality: Raised beds allow you to control the soil quality, which is essential for healthy plant growth. You can add compost, fertilizer, and other soil amendments to ensure that your cucumbers have access to the nutrients they need.
- Better drainage: Raised beds allow excess water to drain away from the roots of your cucumber plants more efficiently, preventing waterlogging and root rot.
- Higher yields: Raised beds provide a more controlled growing environment, which can result in more cucumbers. With proper soil preparation and plant spacing, you can maximize the number of cucumbers you harvest.
- Easier maintenance: Raised beds require less bending and stooping, and you can more easily weed and water your plants. There are tall raised beds that you can get so you can garden standing up. Here is a great elevated raised bed. You can also get all different sizes so they can even fit in a small space.
- Pest control: Raised beds can be covered with row covers or netting to protect your cucumbers from pests like cucumber beetles and squash bugs. It’s also easier to control because he area is blocked off for you.
Cucumber Growing Tips
Whether you decide to grow cucumbers in raised beds or just in the ground, here are some tips for growing cucumbers that will give you the best results.
- Choose Your Location: The first step in growing cucumbers in raised beds is choosing the right location. Cucumbers need full sun to thrive, so make sure your garden bed is located in an area that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Prepare the Soil: Before planting your cucumbers, prep the soil in your raised bed. Start by removing any grass or weeds that may be growing in the area. Next, add a layer of compost or organic matter to give your soil some nutrients. Additionally, you'll want to choose a spot that has good soil drainage (no compact soil), as cucumbers do not like to sit in water.
- Install Trellises or Stakes: Cucumbers are a vining plant, which means they will need some support to grow properly. To ensure that your cucumbers grow vertically and don't take over your raised bed, install trellises or stakes before planting. This will help to keep the plants off the ground, prevent disease, and make harvesting easier. Some of my favorite types of trellis are A-frame trellis, like this one.
- Plant Your Cucumber Seeds: Once your raised bed is prepared, it's time to plant your cucumber seeds. Cucumber seeds should be planted about one inch deep and spaced four to six inches apart. Check the back of your seed packet to see the planting depth for your specific cucumbers. After planting, water the seeds well and let the soil settle. Cucumber seeds do best when the soil temperature is at least 70 °F. Seeds will not germinate at soil temperatures below 50 °F.
- Water Regularly: Cucumbers need consistent moisture to grow, so it's important to water them regularly. Make sure to water them deeply. It’s better to do that a few times a week, than just a little bit each day. That way you know the roots are getting the water. You can even set up a drip irrigation system to make it really easy.
- Fertilize Your Plants: Use a balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and apply it about every 3-4 weeks throughout the growing season. Be careful not to over-fertilize, if the plant grows too fast it can lead to poor fruit quality. I use an organic fertilizer that I can just add on top of the soil and it will slowly work its way to the plant. Fertilizing your plants will help ensure high yields.
- Harvest Your Cucumbers: Once your cucumbers are ready to harvest, be sure to pick them regularly to encourage continued fruit production. Depending on the type of cucumber they could be ready to harvest at 4-8 inches long. There are pickling varieties and also much longer varieties. Check you seed packet or look up your specific type. Typically they will be ready to harvest when they are a bright green color. To avoid damaging the plant, use scissors or pruning shears to cut the cucumber off the vine. I typically grow pickling cucumbers and in the summer I can go out to harvest almost everyday.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your cucumbers grow healthy and strong and produce a bountiful harvest. With a little bit of effort and care, you can enjoy fresh, delicious cucumbers all season long.
Reduce Cucumber Fungal Diesese
Cucumber plants are susceptible to various fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. It is sometimes called bacterial wilt. You can tell if you have powdery mildew, if your plant has white dots all over the leaves. Using these few tips can help ensure that your cucumber crop remains healthy and productive.
- Good Air Circulation: This is one of the most effective ways to reduce fungal diseases. This can be achieved by adequately spacing the plants and removing any dead or diseased leaves as soon as possible. Dead leaves can provide a breeding ground for fungal spores, which can multiply and spread to other plants. If growing them is raised beds, try not to pack too many plants in so that each one gets good air circulation.
- Keep leaves dry: Another effective measure is to avoid getting the leaves wet when watering. Wet leaves provide the perfect environment for fungal spores to germinate and grow. When watering, try to aim the water at the base of the plants and avoid splashing the leaves. If you must water over the foliage, do it in the morning so that the leaves have time to dry before the evening. This is another great reason to install a drip irrigation system. You can water the soil without getting the leaves wet.
- Use a Fungicide: You can also apply a fungicide to the plants preventatively, but be sure to read the label and apply it according to the instructions. Fungicides are chemicals that are designed to kill or prevent the growth of fungi. However, they can be harmful to beneficial insects and other organisms, so it is important to use them sparingly.
- Find disease resistant varieties: I have never personally grown the disease resistant vanities, but there are a lot of options out there now. One is the Sashimi cucumber seed from Johnny Seed. They say is has resistance to powdery mildew. If you are having a specific issue in your garden with a certain kind of disease, this might be something to look in to.
By following these tips, you can reduce the incidence of fungal diseases in your cucumber plants, keep healthy plants, and maximize your harvest. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
How to Get Rid of Cucumber Beetles
Cucumber beetles are a common pest that can damage your cucumber plants. Here are a few ways to get rid of them:
- Handpicking: One of the most effective ways to get rid of cucumber beetles is to handpick them off your plants. Look for them early in the morning or late in the evening when they are less active. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. This way is time consuming, but it is effective.
- Row Covers: You can also use row covers to protect your cucumber plants from cucumber beetles. Row covers are lightweight fabrics that are placed over your plants to keep insects out. Just make sure to remove the covers once your plants start to flower, as they need to be pollinated. Here is an example of row cover fabric you can buy. They have all different sizes so you can find something that works best for your area.
- Neem Oil: Neem oil is a natural insecticide that can be used to repel cucumber beetles. You can find concentrate which you want to mix one tablespoon of neem oil with one quart of water and spray it on your plants. I just have a spray bottle of neem oil that is ready to use. I use it though out my garden for multiple pests. I use the Captain Jack brand Neem Oil and it has worked great for me. Be sure to spray both the tops and bottoms of the leaves.
- Beneficial Insects: Finally, you can attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, to your garden to help control cucumber beetles. These insects feed on the larvae and eggs of cucumber beetles, reducing their numbers. You can attract them by planting pollen rich blooming plants such as yarrow, calendula, and dill.
By using these methods, you can control cucumber beetles and protect your cucumber plants from damage.
How cucumber plants get pollinated
The female flowers of cucumbers are an essential part of the plant's reproductive system. They have a swollen base, which is what eventually develops into the cucumber fruit. Once pollinated, the female flower will produce a fruit that contains the more seeds.
It's essential to ensure that female flowers are adequately pollinated to get a good crop of cucumbers. The male flowers produce pollen that is transferred to the female flowers by bees or other pollinators. If you notice that your cucumber plants are producing plenty of male flowers but few female flowers, it may be because of insufficient pollination. You can remedy this by attracting more pollinators to your garden, or you can manually pollinate the female flowers using a small brush or cotton swab.
It's worth noting that cucumber plants can also produce flowers that are both male and female, known as "perfect" flowers. These flowers can self-pollinate, but they tend to produce smaller fruits compared to the fruits produced by well-pollinated female flowers.
Types of Cucumbers to Grow
There are many different types of cucumbers that you can grow. Here are a few popular cucumber types:
- English cucumbers: These cucumbers are long and slender, with a thin skin and very few seeds. They are often sold wrapped in plastic at grocery stores.
- Pickling cucumbers: These cucumbers are smaller and have bumpy skin. They are great for making pickles and have a crisp texture.
- Armenian cucumbers: These cucumbers are long and curved, with a ridged skin. They are often used in Mediterranean dishes.
- Lemon cucumbers: These cucumbers are small and round, with a yellow skin that looks like a lemon. They have a mild and sweet flavor.
There are even different cucumber varieties that have different growth habits.
- Vining Plants: These cucumbers will grow long vines that can either be trained up a trellis or allowed to spill over the edge of the raised bed. Cucumber vines take up more space, but can often produce a larger yield. With vining cucumbers you will need to install some sort fo structure or cucumber trellis for them to climb. You can even use a tomato cage to let your cucumbers vine on.
- Bush Types: Bush cucumbers are a great option for those with small gardens or that \don't have a lot of space in their raised beds. These plants grow in a compact, bushy shape, so they take up less room then vining varieties. They are also great for container gardening. I personally have not grown the bush varieties, but I have seen the seeds available as different seed stores. Another option is a. small space cucumber that does vine slightly but not nearly as much. The Spacemaster cucumber, which is known for its compact growth habit and high yield.
I find most of my cucumber seeds from Botanical Interest. They seem to have all the different varieties. You can also buy them from starts at your farmers market or your local garden center.
Let me know what cucumber variety is your favorites!
Best Ways to Use Cucumbers
There are many delicious ways to use cucumbers! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Salad: This is a classic way to use cucumbers. Simply slice the cucumbers thinly, then toss them with vinegar, sugar, and salt for a refreshing side dish.
- Tzatziki Sauce: This Greek yogurt sauce is made with cucumbers, garlic, and dill. It's delicious served with pita bread. Here is my favorite tzatziki recipe.
- Cucumber Water: Add sliced cucumbers to a pitcher of water for a refreshing and healthy drink.
- Cucumber Sandwiches: Spread cream cheese on bread, then top with thinly sliced cucumbers for a tasty and easy sandwich.
- Cucumber Salsa: Combine chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños for a fresh and spicy salsa. It's perfect with tortilla chips or as a topping for grilled fish or chicken.
These are just a few ideas - there are so many delicious ways to use cucumbers!
A few common cucumber growing questions:
Are cucumber leaves edible?
The sprouts, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit of the cucumber plant are all edible. Some cucumber varieties have prickly leaves that might not be as enjoyable to eat. Try to harvest them when they are young tender leaves.
Make sure not to over prune the leaves. if you take a lot of the plants foliage it will be hard for the fruits to get enough energy to grow.
Are cucumbers toxic to cats or dogs?
While cucumbers are safe for dogs and cats to eat, the leaves of the plants are actually toxic to cats. If you have an outdoor cat, just make sure they stay clear of the cucumber plants.
How to do you know when a cucumber has gone bad?
If the cucumber is starting to get mushy or you can press your finger into it, then the cucumber has gone bad. If it is just mushy at one end, you can cut that off and enjoy the rest of the vegetable. If there is any mold on the cucumber, just toss the whole thing, you shouldn’t eat these ones.
I hope you get the chance to grow your own cucumbers in your vegetable garden this year. Nothing beats homegrown cucumbers!