Mmmm… cucumbers. Like homegrown tomatoes, there are few foods out there that taste better than a fresh garden grown cucumber. Wondering how to grow your own fresh cucumbers here in Alberta?
Because they are don’t like the cold, cucumbers are a bit of a finicky vegetable to grow and do require some finessing. It’s no secret that cucumbers do have a few idiosyncrasies that we gardeners need to iron out.
Let’s dive in…
When To Plant Cucumbers
Here in Alberta, our temperatures don’t quite hit record highs like some of our more fortunate neighbours south of the border. Because of their tender nature and intolerance to cooler temperatures, it’s important to plant cucumber seeds at a time when the weather is warm enough for them to thrive.
So, which month is best for planting cucumbers in Alberta?
For the best results, we recommend starting cucumbers indoors 2-4 weeks ahead of when you would like to plant them outside. In Alberta, this is generally some time in the month of May.
Ready to head to the great outdoors? June is often the perfect time of the year to move your cucumbers to your garden outside because the days are long, the light intensity is high, and the risk of frost is significantly reduced.
Of course, the monthly weather trends can change wildly across Alberta, especially here in Edmonton, so it is important to keep an eye on overnight temperatures and adjust accordingly.
Cucumbers 101: cucumbers like it warm. Not quite Jamaican beach vacation warm, but warm enough.
Cucumbers essentially have no frost tolerance whatsoever, and temperature anywhere below 10º C have a negative impact on their growth and fruit quality.
If you’ve got cucumbers planted and you notice the temperature may dip below 10º C, cover them.
Wondering which fertilizer is best for your cucumbers?
Because cucumbers have lower requirements for nitrogen (N), and higher for phosphorous (P) and potassium (K), and cucumbers need less nitrogen, it’s best to look for a fertilizer with a sequence something around 5-7-6.
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With that being said, it’s important to understand that different soil types have an effect on fertilizer needs.
Grow cucumbers in high quality, well-draining soil – cucumbers have a high demand for water, they like to be moist but they become despondent if their feet are sitting wet & soggy.
If cucumbers are too wet (and cold) they become more susceptible to disease & insect pressures.
Well-draining soils will need more applications of fertilizer because fertilizer leaches out with the draining water, whereas heavier soils that drain less tend to build up fertilizer salts.
Too much salt buildup from fertilizing can be a problem for cucumbers, as they will begin to burn when the salt level gets too high.
One simple way to help mitigate salt buildup is to consider using mulch – it helps to keep roots cool and helps the soil retain moisture more easily.
Another solution is to consider using a slow release fertilizer and apply it once a month. Soluble fertilizers also work well, apply them weekly.
Lastly, consider adding compost to your cucumbers if you have a heavier soil. Compost adds organic matter to heavy soils and helps them to drain better.
Training the cucumber stalks up a trellis affords easy access for maintenance and picking; and keeps leaves dry and off the ground.
Maybe contemplate growing a juicy, tasty cucumber this year! We carry cucumber seeds and started plants in our sales greenhouse alongside our other vegetables.
– by Sharon Wallish Murphy