Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Soil and Sun Requirements for Growing Cucumbers


Cucumber seedlings in great soil.

Cucumber seedlings in great soil.

Having healthy cucumber plants starts with having great soil in which to grow them. Cucumbers produce more fruit when they have a low amount of nitrogen, and compost with 2% nitrogen will give your plants some of the organic materials they need to thrive without causing runaway vine growth. Organic matter, like compost or well-aged manure, will enrich light sandy soils and lighten heavy clay soils, providing the drainage cucumber plants require. Compost also supplies phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients that cucumbers need.

And it’s alright if you don’t make your own compost—you can buy bulk compost from most gardening supply stores. Try to find “certified compost” with the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA)—their rigorous testing process and standards will ensure you get quality compost.

Next, consider a vegetable plant food that is low nitrogen and high in potassium and phosphorus. Apply at planting, one week after bloom, and every three weeks, directly to the soil around the plants. Or, you can work a granular fertilizer into the soil. Do not over-fertilize or the fruits will get stunted. With your compost and amendments on top of your soil, use a spade fork to turn the soil over and mix everything together.

Remember, soil health is one of the most important things to ensuring that your cucumber plants thrive and produce quality and quantity fruit.

When it comes to planting cucumbers with other plants, you want to give them plenty of space (unless you’re growing them vertically) and keep them away from other water-hogging plants. Here are some plants that cucumbers like to share space with:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Nasturtiums (repels insects)
  • Onions
  • Oregano (repels insects)
  • Marigolds (repels insects)
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Sunflowers

And here is a list of plants to keep away from your cucumbers:

  • Melons
  • Potatoes
  • Sage (attracts pests harmful to cucumbers)
Cucumbers in the sun.

Cucumbers in the sun.

Cucumbers may be cool, but they need warmth to thrive. Plant them when the soil is about 70 degrees in a spot where they’ll get lots of sunlight. Though cucumber plants can get by on five hours of sunlight a day, a full eight hours is better to ensure healthy and abundant fruit. You’ll need to plant according to the sun’s daily patterns if you’ve planted in open land or in raised beds. With containers or pots, you’ll need to move your plants around to optimize the sun exposure for your plants.

What type of soil do you use to grow your cucumbers? Do you use compost at all? How do you ensure that your cucumbers get the right amount of sunlight? Do you have tips for getting your cucumbers planted in the right spot for proper soil and sun requirements?

    • Norann O.

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