Sowing Seed Indoors
The first few years I grew cucumbers I listened to what "experts" said and never started the plants indoors. I waited until the soil was warm and planted the cucumber seeds directly in the ground. I've now been growing cucumbers in our garden for over 15 years and today I'm going to share my favorite seed starting tips for cucumbers. Hopefully, I'll save you from the frustration I felt in those early years.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
Direct sowing is recommended on the back of just about every pack of cucumber seeds but it is not necessary. If you want to get a head start you can start cucumber seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost in individual biodegradable pots indoors. Biodegradable pots provide the most protection for the roots and decrease the risk of injuring the roots. I have, however, seen plants survive being transplanted from regular plastic seedling pots.
Tips For Starting Cucumber Seeds Indoors
- Sow 2-3 seeds per pot. Sow seeds ½ inches deep in seed-starting formula
2. Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
3. Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days
As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. To prevent growth issues and leaf damage raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work as well for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Young plants need time to become accustomed to outdoor conditions. This is easily done by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring the containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding. This can also be done by moving them in and out of your greenhouse if you have one. I place ours outside of the greenhouse for a few hours at a time and then slowly increase the time they spend in the full sun.
Sowing Directly in the Garden
- Sow in directly in the garden in fertile, warm soil after danger of frost has passed. Cucumber seeds will not germinate in soil colder than 60 degrees.
- Sow seeds 3 inches apart in groups of 4-6. Cover with 1 inch of fine soil.
- Space groups 19 to 26 inches apart each way.
- Keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
- Thin to 3 or 4 strongest seedlings in each group when they are 1-2 inches high.
I hope you found my Seed Starting Tips For Cucumbers helpful. If I left anything out or you have questions let me know in the comments section or in our private Facebook group.
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