Nothing beats the satisfaction of successfully growing a vegetable from seed. Growing cucumbers from seeds to sprouts will allow you to make a variety of deliciously fresh summer dishes from salad to salsa. For a taste of your garden all year long, you can make pickles.
But first, you have to understand how to get there! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get a tasty, robust crop of cucumber seeds from your next growing season.
How to Plant Cucumber Seeds
Cucumbers generally fare best when grown directly from seed. However, you’ll want to wait until the soil temperatures have warmed above 60°F, and you have no chance of further frosts after the seeding.
Push the seeds gently into the dirt, about an inch deep or so. You can space the seeds out by just a few inches initially, but ultimately you’ll want your plants to be anywhere from 18 to 36 inches apart, so you’ll have to thin a more tightly packed seeding later on in the process.
Cucumber Identification: What Do Cucumbers Look Like When They First Sprout?
Recognizing the initial cucumber sprouts will help during a critical period in weeding your garden. The cotyledons emerge first, two oblong leaves situated opposite each other atop a single stem.
Many plants look similar at this stage, but if you properly prepared your site, you should be able to identify the sprouting cucumbers quickly. A few days after sprouting, the first true leaves emerge—triangular, lobed leaves with fuzz on their tops and teeth along their edges.
How fast do cucumbers sprout?
The speed with which your seeds sprout will vary depending on the temperature and conditions of the soil. Rich, moist soil with a temperature above 80°f may sprout in three days or so. Colder soil conditions—65°f or less—may leave you waiting up to 10 days for sprouted seeds.
Soils below 50°f will not sprout cucumber seeds at all, and may even damage the viability of your seeds. If you want to start your cucumber plant sooner than the outdoor conditions allow, start your seedlings inside.
Can you eat cucumber sprouts?
Absolutely! Microgreens have gained a lot of appreciation in recent years for their excellent nutritional value and wonderfully light flavor. Cucumber sprouts have a taste reminiscent of the full-grown fruits and can really freshen up a salad or even flavor a cocktail.
Due to their ease of growing, some people actually plant entire flats of cucumber seeds specifically to harvest the sprouts. You can also eat the stem and leaves of more mature plants, but they tend to have a tougher texture and may cause an upset stomach in large quantities.
Cucumbers have pretty modest environmental needs. Nonetheless, if you want a bumper crop, you’ll need to observe a few basic guidelines.
Cucumbers require evenly moist soil to germinate successfully. Make sure you work some water into your planting site before sowing the seeds to make sure you create a friendly environment for the new seedlings.
After sprouting, cucumbers get even thirstier. Think about the juiciness of a full-grown cucumber: water may comprise 90% or more of the fruit. One to two inches of water per week should do it, though sandy soils may need more.
Cucumbers like the heat. They germinate well in soil up to 90°F and will thrive in hot, humid conditions. Patience pays off in getting your seeds into the ground; the right conditions will provide a rapid turnaround from planting to the first harvest.
Conversely, cucumbers hate the cold. A late frost can seriously damage a sprouted plant. Planting too early may keep your cucumbers from sprouting in a timely fashion, even if it doesn’t frost. That time struggling may reduce the overall yield of your plant.
Cucumber plants prefer a soil with good drainage and pore space between the soil particles. Heavy soils with lots of clay or silt particles limit water movement, compromising the oxygen supply to the roots of growing plants.
Sandier soils can grow cucumbers well but require more frequent watering to keep the plants adequately hydrated. Heavier soils can better accommodate cucumbers with the addition of peat, sawdust, or other organic material to improve the pore spacing and oxygenation.
Cucumbers do best in full sun, defined as full summer sun for six or more hours per day. Partial shade will still produce cucumbers, but with a little less vigor and harvest capabilities than a sunnier site.
These plants thrive in hot, sunny conditions. So long as you can keep the soil sufficiently watered, you have little chance of planting a cucumber somewhere that it could get cooked by sunlight.
Time of Year/After Frost
Generally, cucumber seeds should go into the ground whenever the soil has reached a suitable temperature without the risk of frost. The plant will produce its first cucumbers in anywhere from 30 to 60 days, and keep producing for two weeks or more.
The average plant might produce a dozen or more cucumbers in the right conditions throughout its life. Frost will kill any plants, but earlier plantings may die off naturally before the growing season ends. Yellowing leaves indicate that the plant has reached the end of the line and should come out of your garden to make room for more plants.
Type of Soil
Cucumbers prefer a soil rich in organic material, at a ph of 6.0-6.5 like most plants. A thick humus layer will produce the best cucumbers, but soil amendments can make almost any site well-suited to growing cucumbers.
Work organic material or fertilizers into more deficient soils to boost the nutrient levels. You can even adjust the pH of your soil with the right treatments. Lime will raise the ph of highly acidic soils, while sulfur can lower it. It may take some tweaking, but with a bit of effort, you can create the ideal growing conditions for cucumbers.
Cucumbers work great for the beginning gardener. The seeds will sprout quickly and easily, and before you know it, you have tasty green cucumbers coming out of your ears.
Few things match the satisfaction of eating a meal composed of vegetables you grew yourself, especially when you can or pickle your cucumbers for year-round enjoyment. Remember these simple guidelines, and you’ll have fresh cucumbers all summer long!
Related: Grow Hydroponic Cucumbers