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- Cucumbers are seeded or transplanted outside in the ground no earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost damage; the soil must be at least 65ºF for germination. Do not plant outside too soon!
- For an early crop, start cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant them in the ground. They like bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC). If you don’t have a heat mat, put the seeds flat on top of the refrigerator or perch a few on top of the water heater.
- Before you plant outside, select a site with full sun.
- Ideally, soil should be neutral or slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.0. Improve clay soil by adding organic matter. Improve dense, heavy soili by adding peat, compost or rotted manure. (Get a soil test if you are unsure of your soil type; contact your local county cooperative extension.) Light, sandy soils are preferred for northern gardens, as they warm quickly in the spring.
- Mix in compost and/or aged manure before planting to a depth of 2 inches and work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep. Make sure that soil is moist and well-drained, not soggy.
- Sow seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart.
- If you are transplanting seedlings, plant them 12 inches apart.
- A trellis might be a good idea if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space. Trellising also protects the fruit from damage from lying on the moist ground.
- When planting seeds in the ground, cover with netting or a berry basket to keep pests from digging out the seeds.
- When seedlings emerge, begin to water frequently, and increase to a gallon per week after fruit forms.
- When seedlings reach 4 inches tall, thin plants so that they are 1½ feet apart.
- If you've worked in organic matter into the soil before planting, you may only need to side-dress your plants with compost or well-rotted manure. Or, if you wish, use a fertilizer from your garden store which is low nitrogen/high poatassium and phosphorus formula and apply at planting, 1 week after bloom, and every 3 weeks with liquid food, applying directly to the soil around the plants. Or, you can work a granular fertilizer into the soil. Do not overfertilize or the fruits will get stunted.
- Water consistently; put your finger in the soil and when it is dry past the first joint of your finger, it is time to water. Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit. Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, avoding the leaves.
- Mulch to hold in soil moisture.
- If you have limited space or would prefer vertical vines, set up trellises early to avoid damage to seedlings and vines.
- Spray vines with sugar water to attract bees and set more fruit.