We all want our cucumbers to produce bucket loads of cucumbers all season long, but what can you do to keep them producing?
Let’s take a look and then enjoy endless cucumbers for months on end!
Choosing the Right Variety of Cucumbers
Some cucumbers are more productive than others, it’s really as simple as that. Beyond that – different types of cucumbers are also usually more productive than others.
Pickling cucumbers are for making pickles…
These cucumbers are typically shorter and thicker than slicing cucumbers, and they have a bumpy exterior.
They are also incredibly productive, and in my experience at least, will produce many cucumbers all season long.
Slicing cucumbers are the most common type of cucumber most people will be familiar with. They are typically much larger than pickling cucumbers, with a smoother exterior.
They are perfect for slicing and adding to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes, hence the name.
These are often the least productive type of cucumber as they produce larger fruit. I have also found they often seem to reach a limit on fruit production and stop making new cucumbers later in the season.
Snacking cucumbers are smaller versions of slicing cucumbers. They are still intended to be eaten and sliced but are much smaller – which is where the name snacking or lunchbox cucumber comes from.
Varieties like Mini Muncher or F1 Baby are very popular snacking cucumbers.
This year is my first time growing snacking cucumbers, thanks to some seeds sent over by Suttons.
If there is one think I could say about these cucumbers, it is this – they are ver productive. I only have one Mini Muncher and one F1 Baby plant, and I can’t keep up with the number of cucumbers coming off them. Even with a toddler who loves to snack on them1
How To Keep Your Cucumbers Producing
One of the biggest things you can do to keep your cucumber plants going is give them lots of water.
Cucumbers are almost all water, so the plant needs tonnes of the stuff to keep producing them.
If it is not getting enough water, then production will inevitably decline and in the worst case – stop altogether.
Next up is pruning; proper cucumber pruning is important to ensure you end up with a productive plant.
If you don’t prune, you can end up with lots of leaves and little fruit.
I like to remove the side shoots from my cucumber plants; this is a common method but it is not your only option.
Cucumbers will produce on the side shoots so you can let them grow, often referred to as palm or fan pruning.
I have never done this pruning style, but I want to try it next year. The end goal is an almost espalier-style cucumber plant.
I prune out all of the side shoots after a single fruit has appeared on the shoot.
So on this side shoot above, I would let the shoot grow out to this stage and then snip it off past the fruit.
I like leaving a few centimetres of growth here so the developing fruit isn’t damaged.
I also never top my cucumbers and instead let them grow all year until the first frosts get them. By the end of the season, they are growing allover the roof of my greenhouse – but I get many more cucumbers this way.
3. How You Planted
This is not something you can fix now but something to bear in mind for next year. How you plant your cucumbers will have a huge effect on how productive they are.
What I mean by this is what you decided to plant them in – growbags, pots, raised beds etc.
Growbags and pots will always have a hard limit on how large the plant grows; the roots will fill them at some point and all the nutrients will be sucked out.
I like to use raised beds in my greenhouse or plant directly into the ground. This method will support larger plants that keep going longer.
Ongoing feeding is another way you can keep your cucumbers going. Adding nutrients through feeds is a great way to keep older plants productive.
I like to keep my feeding simple, I give them some comfrey feed every few weeks.
I make this myself, and if you are interested in learning more, then read my article on making comfrey fertiliser.
Avoiding Common Diseases/Infections
Cucumber plants are also susceptible to various diseases, including:
- Powdery mildew
- Downy mildew
- Bacterial wilt
- Fusarium wilt
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems of cucumber plants, reducing their photosynthetic capacity.
Downy mildew is a fungal disease that causes yellowing and wilting of cucumber plants. Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes dark, sunken spots on the leaves and fruits of cucumber plants.
Bacterial wilt and Fusarium wilt are bacterial and fungal diseases, respectively, that cause wilting and death of cucumber plants.
Each of these issues has its own solutions and this article is getting long already, so I will refer you to my common cucumber problems and how to deal with them article.
When to Harvest
Knowing when to harvest cucumbers is crucial for maintaining a continuous yield. The best time to harvest cucumbers is when they are firm, crisp, and have a bright green colour.
It is important to avoid waiting too long to harvest cucumbers as they can quickly become overripe and turn yellow, which can negatively impact the taste and texture.
The timing of cucumber harvests can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions. Generally, cucumbers can be harvested anywhere from 50 to 70 days after planting. However, it is recommended to check the maturity of the cucumbers by examining their size and colour.
The more you pick cucumbers, the more you will get, so regular harvesting is key to promoting an ongoing yield.
How to Harvest
Harvesting cucumbers is a straightforward process, but it is important to do it correctly to avoid damaging the plant or the fruit. Here are some steps to follow for harvesting cucumbers:
- Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the cucumber from the vine. Avoid pulling or twisting the cucumber as this can damage the plant and reduce future yields.
- Leave a small section of stem attached to the cucumber to prevent the stem end from rotting in storage.
- Place the harvested cucumbers in a basket or container to avoid bruising or damaging them.
- Store the cucumbers in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best companion plants for cucumber plants?
Cucumber plants grow well with plants such as beans, peas, radishes, and carrots. These plants help to attract beneficial insects and improve soil quality.
How can I increase the yield of my cucumber plants?
To increase the yield of your cucumber plants, ensure they have adequate water and nutrients. You can also prune your plants to encourage more fruit production and provide support for the vines.
What is the ideal fertilizer schedule for cucumber plants?
Cucumber plants require regular fertilization to thrive. It is recommended to fertilize your plants with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
How much water should I give my cucumber plants daily?
Cucumber plants need a lot of water to produce juicy fruits. It is recommended to water your plants deeply once a week or twice a week during hot weather. Make sure to provide enough water to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
How much sunlight do cucumber plants need?
Cucumber plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to grow properly. Make sure to plant your cucumbers in a spot that receives plenty of sunlight.
How can I encourage pollination in my cucumber plants?
Cucumber plants require pollination to produce fruit. You can encourage pollination by attracting bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Planting flowers and providing a source of water can help to attract these insects. You can also hand-pollinate your plants by transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers using a small brush or cotton swab.