Cucumbers are a warm-weather crop. They may be grown during the
warmer months over a wide portion of the country, but are not
adapted to winter growing in any but a few of the most southerly
locations. Moreover, the extreme heat of midsummer in some places
is too severe, and there cucumber culture is limited to spring and
The cucumber demands an exceedingly fertile, mellow soil high
in decomposed organic matter from the compost pile. Also, an
additional application of organic matter and commercial fertilizer
is advisable under the rows or hills.
Be sure the organic matter contains no remains of any vine
crops; they might carry injurious diseases. Three or four
wheelbarrow loads of well-rotted organic matter and 5 pounds of
commercial fertilizer to a 50-foot drill or each 10 hills are
enough. Mix the organic matter and fertilizer well with the top 8
to 10 inches of soil.
For an early crop, the seed may be started in berry boxes or
pots, or on sods in a hotbed, and moved to the garden after danger
of late frost is past. During the early growth and in cool
periods, cucumbers may be covered with plant protectors made of
panes of glass with a top of cheesecloth, parchment paper, or
A few hills will supply the needs of a family. When the seed is
planted in drills, the rows should be 6 or 7 feet apart, with the
plants thinned to 2 to 3 feet apart in the rows. In the hill
method of planting, the hills should be at least 6 feet apart each
way, with the plants thinned to 2 in each hill. It is always wise
to plant 8 or 10 seeds in each hill, thinned to the desired stand.
Cover the seeds to a depth of about 1/2 inch. If the soil is
inclined to bake, cover them with loose earth, such as a mixture
of soil and coarse sand, or other material that will not harden
and keep the plants from coming through.
Cucumbers require almost constant vigilance to prevent
destructive attacks by cucumber beetles. These insects not only
eat the foliage but also spread cucumber wilt and other serious
Success in growing cucumbers depends largely on the control of
diseases and insect pests that attack the crop. Removal of the
fruits before any hard seeds form materially lengthens the life of
the plants and increases the size of the crop.
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