How do I grow cucumbers in the New York city area?


There are many types of cucumbers for the home gardener to try. There are fancy heirloom cucumbers such as ‘Lemon’, which looks like a strange hybrid between a lemon and a cuke; pickling cucumbers that range from the size of a cornichon to a 6-inch long spear; Burpless varieties with thin skins and mild flavor that are easier to digest; and Asian varieties that are sweet and long with tiny seeds. If you are trying to decide between growing a slicing (salad) cucumber and a pickling cucumber but only have space in the garden for one variety, know that pickling cucumbers make excellent slicers and slicing cucumbers can be made into pickles.


You will need to decide how much space you will dedicate to cucumbers. Many of the vining cucumbers easily spread 6 to 8 feet while the more compact bush varieties cover a 2 to 3 foot area. Bush cucumbers, such as ‘Spacemaster’, ‘Salad Bush’, ‘Bush Champion’, and ‘Parks Bush Whopper’ are ideal for containers. Containers should be at least 12 inches deep and will need to be fertilized every 2 weeks with a fish emulsion.

Bush and pickling cucumbers are happy growing along the ground. Choose a corner of the vegetable garden and make mounds of soil several feet apart and plant them each with 5 or 6 seeds. Thin out to the three strongest plants in each mound. Remember to mulch the area with straw or a salt marsh hay substitute when you are growing cucumbers on the ground to protect the fruits.

It is best to use a trellis when growing vining cucumbers. Trellises will not only minimize the amount of space needed for large vines, they will also ensure that the large slicing or Asian cucumber you might grow will stretch downward and form an elegant, straight fruit. Even though the cucumbers have tendrils, you will have to give them extra support by tying the stems to the structure with either twine in a figure eight configuration or with Velcro plant ties. If using a trellis, space plants approximately 10 inches apart.

Cucumbers will grow faster and taste better if you have enriched your soil with compost or good organic matter. Some of the expert growers maintain that adding dried seaweed to the soil to boost trace elements will give you stronger and better disease-resistant plants. Cucumbers like good nitrogen levels and do well if they are preceded by an early pea crop.

Cucumbers are indigenous to India and relish warm temperatures. Wait until your last frost date has passed before you plant seeds or transplants. The seeds are large and a joy to plant. You can start them indoors 3 weeks earlier, but don’t keep them too long in small pots.


Mulch around your plants to protect their shallow roots and to keep moisture levels high: cucumbers need plenty of water to grow well. Plant them in the full sun in northern climates and give them some protection from the baking afternoon sun in southern regions.

Cucumbers are either monoecious or gynoecious. Monoecious means that the plant has both female flowers that fruit and male flowers that provide the pollen. Insects will come and move the pollen around so that you get a nice harvest. Gynoecious plants are all female. They produce large, early crops of cucumbers but they need to be planted near a monoecious cucumber to be pollinated. Seed packets will contain seed for a few of these pollinator plants that are colored so you can identify them. Make sure you label them in your garden so they are not accidentally removed.

Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

  • Last Updated Apr 19, 2024
  • Views 46
  • Answered By Leslie Coleman

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