How to Grow Cucumbers

To me, cucumbers are the epitome of a perfect summer veg. Fresh, crunchy, and watery (in the best way), I mean they are the perfect base for so many summer dishes. But let’s be honest, cucumbers don’t really get the hype they deserve. Even I used to think they were only good for pickles. And while pickles are delicious, cucumbers have so much more to offer. Think fresh cold cucumbers sliced with watermelon radish and a sprinkling of coarse salt, olive oil, and squeeze of lemon. I could eat that all day. 

Cucumbers get a major upgrade when you grow them yourself. If you’ve never been into cucumbers, the reason could be that store bought ones can be bland and grainy and just generally subpar. The thing is, growing them yourself is super easy and doesn’t require tons of space. So how do I grow them? Let’s talk about it. 

cucumbers in a basket


Cucumbers like neutral soil with plenty of organic matter and good drainage. When we say neutral soil, we mean not too acidic and not too alkaline. The easiest way to gauge the PH of your soil is with a soil monitor like this one from Earth Easy. You want to shoot for your soil number to be around 6.5 -7.5. If you find your soil is too acidic, you can actually add a bit of wood ash to make it more neutral. Don’t skimp on your soil. The quality of the soil you use will drastically impact the quality of your cucumbers. To add organic matter to your top soil, choose a really high quality compost or manure to add to your mix. This will ensure your cucumbers get enough food, and it will help with water retention. It’s important to not use raw/fresh manure in your garden as it can “burn” your veg and be detrimental. It can also carry bacteria that can contaminate your produce. Compost also helps regulate the acidity in your soil.

cucumber vine in a greenhouse


Cucumbers like water. The biggest tip we have is to consistently water them. Don’t leave them for a week and then drown them the next. Consistent watering leads to a good tasting cucumber. Inconsistent watering can make them bitter and generally unpalatable. Old Farmers almanac recommends an inch of water per week from the time they emerge or more if temps get hot hot hot. You don’t want to overwater them, but I find it’s hard to do so when you’re growing your produce outdoors, so don’t sweat it too much. Another tip we have is to water your cucumbers at the base of the plant. It’s better to get little to no water on the leaves as cucumbers are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew. Wet leaves create a humid environment around the plant and it can attract these types of airborne diseases. 


Cucumbers love full sun. Full sun means six or more hours of direct sun per day. While most vegetables will still grow and produce in partial shade, most need full sun to reach their full potential and cucumbers are no exception. When choosing a spot to grow your cucumbers, take sun exposure into account.

young cucumber with blossom


The awesome thing about cucumbers is that they don’t need a ton of space. We like to grow our cucumbers trellised as it takes even less space than conventional growing. A trellis is a wire or wood structure that helps you grow vegetables and fruits vertically. One of the perks or trellised cucumbers, is they can be grown in pots and are a great option for urban growing environments like rooftops, balconies, and community gardens, where space is limited. 


Whether you’re planning on directly sowing your cucumber seeds outside or planting starts, the best time to plant them out is about two weeks after your average last frost date or when the average day temperature is 70 degrees. Prolonged time spent in temperatures in the 50’s can lead to issues with your cucumbers. Direct sowing can be a great option, but you can get a real head start by starting them indoors or buying starts from your local greenhouse. If you are starting them indoors yourself, start them around 3-5 weeks before you plan on hardening them off and planting outdoors. Cucumbers grow best in temps between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit (about 21-29 degrees celsius). Cucumbers are usually ready to harvest around 50-70 days after planting.

cucumbers in a basket

How to Deal with Disease

Powdery mildew

Cucumbers are susceptible to a few different diseases, including powdery mildew. Powdery Mildew takes the appearance of a grayish white powder that looks dusted all over the leaves of your plants. If your cucumbers do get powdery mildew, it’s usually not a death sentence, but you will most likely see a decrease in cucumber yield. We have a few tips to reduce the chance of your cucumbers catching powdery mildew and for treating them if you do. 

  1. First things first, we recommend choosing cucumber varieties that are powdery mildew resistant. This will give them a better chance of not getting the disease in the first place. 
  1. Water the base of your plant and don’t get the leaves wet. Powdery mildew thrives in a damp environment, so keeping the humidity away from the leaves is key. 
  1. If planting in a greenhouse, make sure it has plenty of ventilation to keep humidity down. 
  1. Plant your cucumbers the correct distance apart to make sure your plants have plenty of air circulation.
  1. Water in the morning. This allows plants to dry in the sun properly. 
  1. If your plant does end up catching powdery mildew, you can use a natural spray made up of baking soda and dish soap to help treat it. A popular recipe for this spray is 1 tablespoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon dish soap, and one gallon water. Shake it all together and add to a spray bottle. Spray onto all parts of the leaves including underneath, and any affected area. It can also be used as a preventive, so feel free to spray on your plants before you see any signs of powdery mildew. 

Hopefully you now have a better idea of how to get started with growing cucumbers. Don’t be afraid to get started! They are easy and can be so rewarding. Good luck!

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