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Important Tips For Growing Cucumbers

When you plant is important: wait until the nights are staying at least 50º F (10° C). to start seeds in the garden; too cool and you won’t get successful germination and good growth. It’s wise to cover them with netting or plastic berry baskets to keep birds or other critters from eating the seeds before you even see them.

If your growing season is very short or you have problems starting seeds outdoors (or if you are just eager) you can start cucumbers and squashes in individual pots and transplant them when it’s warm enough. They are fast growing seedlings, though, and will suffer if they get too crowded, so don’t sow them any earlier than 3 weeks before you expect to transplant them outside. (Remember that if they are grown too long in the pots, they’ll be so slow to recover from the move that you won’t have saved any time.)

Cucumbers need rich soil and enough water – mulching will hold in soil moisture and keep down weeds at the same time. If your cucumbers are bitter, it is probably because they didn’t get enough consistent watering. They need to be watered regularly; if you put your finger in the soil and it is dry beyond the first joint, the plants need water. If the fruits are misshapen, they probably didn’t get fertilized well, or are stressed from not enough water.

Summer squash like zucchini and patty pan can be picked when quite young, even before the flowers fall off, but I think the taste is best and yield is better when zucchinis are no more than 5 or 6 inches, and scallops about 3 inches. Unless of course you want to make zucchini bread with a big one – but they’ll stop blooming and making new fruit if it stays on the plant too long.

Except in the very short season areas, it is really worth making a second planting of summer squash and cucumbers, both for salad and for pickles, in early to late June. These heat lovers grow so quickly with seed sown directly into warm summer soil and begin to ripen fruits around just six weeks!