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Cucumbers are one of our favorite garden treats.  We love the crunch and freshness of cucumber in a summer salad, adding raw cucumber slices to water for a refreshing summer drink, pickling them with fresh dill and spices… the list goes on!

However, we know sometimes cucumber plants can present issues for first-time and experienced gardeners alike, so here are our suggestions for

How to Avoid Common Cucumber Problems:

  1. Plant at the right time.  We know you’re anxious to get growing, but please don’t plant cucumbers too early.  They must be planted after ANY chance of frost in soil at least 50oF.  Here in Rochester, NY that means Memorial Day weekend.  Be patient ’til then, and you won’t shock young seedlings by transplanting them into cold, unwelcoming soil.
  2. Select the right spot.  Cucumbers love sunshine, so be sure you’ve situated them where they’ll receive at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day.  Also, make sure you aren’t planting anything too close — cucumber plants get pretty big and will shade out other plants quickly.
  3. Use compost. Cucumber are big drinkers so you’ll need to water them regularly.  Compost helps the soil retain moisture so be sure to work it in before planting.
  4. Grow on a trellis.  When you tuck cucumber vines into a trellis as it grows, you’ll get a bigger yield AND less disease.  There’s better air circulation and the fruits will get more sunlight than vines on the ground.  Plus, growing vertically will save space for other plants to grow in your garden.
  5. Keep an eye out for diseases/insects.  Cucumbers are prone to fungal disease, so take a close look at cucumber plant leaves when you’re outside.  If you see wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, or white-ish, fuzzy dots on the leaves, bring us a sample ASAP and we can identify what’s going on and what will fix it.  Catching the problem early makes it much easier to treat!
  6. Water the soil, not the leaves.  Another way to avoid fungus is by making sure excess water doesn’t end up sitting on the leaves.  Watering the soil rather than watering overhead can help with this.
  7. Harvest frequently.  A cucumber plant will only keep producing fruits as long as it thinks it needs to.  If you let cukes hang on the vine too long, the plant will assume the growing season is coming to a close and stop producing.  Slicing cucumbers are usually ready to pick when they are about 6-8″ long, and pickling cucumbers at about 3-5″ long.

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