University of Maryland Extension

Cucumbers

cucumber on trellis 

Planting and Care of Cucumbers

  • Cultivars include both the slicer or fresh salad type and the pickle type (which can also be used fresh), dwarf-vined or bush types, Armenian, and Asian types. Burpless cucumbers are long and slender with a tender skin. Through plant breeding, the bitterness associated with the burp has been removed. There has been a significant increase in disease resistance in cucumber cultivars in recent years. Try to select resistant varieties like, County Fair, when possible.
  • Members of the Cucurbitaceae family have separate male and female flowers on each plant. For the flower to develop into a fruit, pollen must be carried by bees from male flowers, on the same plant or on different plants, to the female flower (the one with the tiny swollen pickle). Poor cucumber set is common during rainy weather when bees are inactive. Avoid using pesticides during the bloom period. 
  • Trellising: Most varieties of cucumber vines spread from row to row. Training on a trellis or fence along the edge of the garden will prevent this and also lift the fruit off the soil. Plant four to five seeds per foot, thinning to a 9- to 12-inch spacing when plants are 4- to 5-inches high.

Benefits of trellising include:
• Increased total yields and yield per square foot;
• Longer and straighter fruit (easier for bees to access flowers);
• No soil-borne fruit rot since vines dry off faster;
• No walking on vines, and
• Easier to pick and a longer harvesting period.

  • Watering - Keep the root zone moist by watering deeply and regularly during dry periods. Water more frequently when fruits begin to develop.
  • Weeding - Remove all young weed seedlings by hand or with a hoe and use a mulch laid around plants to keep weed seeds from germinating.

Harvesting Cucumbers

  • Pickling cucumbers should be 2 to 3 inches long. 
  • Slicing cucumbers should be 5 to 8 inches long depending on the variety. 
  • Remove by turning cucumbers parallel to the vine and giving a quick snap. This prevents vine damage and results in a clean break. 
  • Working in the vines when leaves are wet may spread diseases. Wait until after morning dew or rain evaporates.

Storage and Preservation 

  • Medium cool (45° - 50°F), moist (95% RH) conditions.


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