Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. There are a number of varieties ranging from green slicers, small picklers, light green, yellow and white, not to mention the “burpless” cultivars and novelty dwarf bush plants.
Sow seeds directly into the ground when soil and air temperatures are around 60 degrees F in an area that gets 6-8 hrs of sun. Warm soil is necessary for good germination. Plant seeds either in a hill or row To plant a hill, mound up soil to make a 12′ circle plant 4-6 seeds 1/2-1″ deep. The hills should be 2-3 feet apart in each direction. Thin seedlings to 3 plants per hill. For row planting, thin seedlings to one per foot. Add compost to soil to help retain moisture and provide nutrients. You can have a second planting 5 weeks after the first for a fall harvest. Cucumbers should produce 50-60 days after seed planting.
Cucumbers are shallow-rooted and require uniform moisture at least 1″ of water per week throughout the growing season. Water deeply. Hot, dry conditions will produce bitter and poorly shaped fruit. When seedlings are 1 ft. tall and begin to vine, side-dress with compost or a nitrogen fertilizer and mulch to maintain even moisture. Provide a sturdy support such as an A-frame trellis or plant next to a fence for cucumbers to climb on. It will make the cucumbers easier to find and is a more efficient use of space.
Harvest cucumbers every other day. Pick when they are uniformly green, firm and crisp. If left on the vine too long the fruit will become fat, yellow and bitter and will slow down new production. The more you pick the more you get. Do not handle plants when wet.
Cucumber beetle is a yellow or greenish yellow beetle with black spots or stripes that feed on the leaves and blossoms. The beetle infects the plant with bacterial wilt which causes the plant to wilt and die when half grown. Cucumber beetles are attracted to stressed plants. Preventative: Cover the seedlings with floating row cover until flowers emerge and when the beetle is present spray with Rotenone , Carbaryl or Pyrethrins.