How to Grow and Harvest Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a widely cultivated member of the gourd family used primarily as a vegetable
There are various types and sub types of cucumber for the South African home gardener.
The following options are available
- Slicing - largest varieties with thickest skin and with the longest shelf life.
- Pickling - smaller varieties able to fit into pickling jars with thinner skin.
Soil Preparation and feeding for Cucumbers
Cucumbers require fertile well drained soil to thrive and produce consistent good quality. Prepare soil to approximately 60cm working in compost in while you work.
Cucumber vines require sturdy trellises or fencing for optimal results, however you will still get a respectable crop if left to grow on the ground. It is advisable to install sturdy 'A-Frame" trellises made from bamboo or sticks before planting seeds or seedlings. It is far more difficult to install trellises after vines have settled and started growing.
Planting times for cucumbers in South Africa
Slicing : Sept - January
Did you know??? Cucumbers are daylight sensitive and does best during spring and the end of summer/start of autumn.
Please note: Planting times supplied are in a general South African sense and are based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary, for instance if you live in Tzaneen you have summer all year long and can grow summer crops January to December!
Full sun, but benefits from partial shade in hotter areas or if planted during Oct, November and December.
Seed Planting and Germination
Sow seeds directly into soil after last frost or they can be started inside and transplanted. Seeds should be sown on their sides about 1cm deep.
Cucumber seeds germinate at between 18 and 29 degrees Celsius. At lower temperatures germination will be poor and delayed.
Cucumber seed germination takes approximately 5 to 10 days.
Cucumber Plant Spacing
When trellised 30 to 50 cm
When left to grow on the ground hills of 3 plants, hills spaced 1.5meters apart.
Days to harvest
All types: 55 - 70 days
- Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary depending on climate, state of soil, and in some instances length of day and climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
- The specific plant might have characteristic/s that fall outside of the typical type norm.
- Days to harvest are counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.
Slicing and seedless cucumbers vary in size from variety to variety. Pick cucumbers when they medium to dark green and firm to the touch. The case of yellow varieties pick when bright yellow and firm. Pick continuously as cucumbers ripen as leaving fruit on the vine negatively affects the production of the vine.
Pickling cucumbers should be picked a couple of days after they have reached the perfect colour and firmness. Pick continuously as fruit ripens so as not to reduce productivity of vines
When cucumbers are left on the vine to long they become bitter, rather pick early than late.
Click to view which Cucumber Seeds are available to you now