Wondering how to grow cucumbers in a raised bed? My complete guide has you totally covered from seed to harvest. How and why to trellis your plants, cucumber varieties to grow, preparing your raised beds, harvesting, square foot gardening, increasing yields — and more. Home gardeners, get ready to enjoy your own vegetable garden, and your homegrown cucumbers!
In This Article
- How to start cucumbers from seeds indoors
- How to plant cucumber seeds directly in the ground
- Square foot gardening with cucumbers
- Caring for your cucumbers throughout the growing season
- How to trellis cucumbers and grow them vertically
- Harvesting cucumbers properly
- Increasing yields
- Varieties of cucumbers
- Problems and solutions
Use the handy table of contents to get to the section you need and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section.
Cucumbers At A Glance
- Botanical Name: cucumis sativus
- Origin: India
- Family: Cucurbitaceae
- Days to Maturity: depends on variety, the earliest is 55 days. Most are between 60-65 days to harvest.
- Hardiness: Very sensitive to frost.
- Sun: Full sun 6+ hours daily.
- Annual/Perennial: Annual.
- Plant Dimensions: Depending on the cucumber variety you plant. The least of them will have mere 2 foot vines. Others will be over 10 feet. Growing vertically on trellises is recommended.
- When to Start Seeds Inside: 2 to 4 weeks before your average last frost date. Cucumbers roots are extremely sensitive to disturbance; You should sow seeds in biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground without disturbing roots. The bottom should be gently ripped away before planting. Seed starting soil mix is recommended.
- When To Direct Sow Outside: 1 to 2 weeks after your average last frost date, and when the soil temperature is at least 60°Fahrenheit (16° Celsius). The ideal soil temperature though is 70°–90°Fahrenheit (21°-32° Celsius).
- Days to Emerge: 5-10 days.
- Seed Planting Depth: ½ inch.
- Seed Spacing: 2 seeds every 12 inches.
- Row Spacing: 36’’ inches.
- Square Foot Gardeners: 2 cucumber plants per square foot
- Soil: Light, well-drained soil, fertile and rich in organic matter.
- Water: At least 1" per week. Crucial during flowering and fruiting as 96% of the weight of a cucumber is made up of water. Lack of water can cause deformed and bitter fruit.
- Thinning: When 3 leaves have emerged, thin down to 1 cucumber plant per 12’’ inches.
- Raised Bed: yes, you can easily grow cucumbers in raised beds. Ideally by supporting the plant with a simple cucumber trellis and grown vertically, especially for the very large varieties.
Growing Cucumbers In Raised Beds
We personally practice organic no-dig, square foot gardening in our raised beds and think that is pretty much the best method to grow your food — and lots of it.
If you're short on space (or short on raised beds) I think that cucumbers grown this way vertically (up on a trellis) is the best bang for your buck. Even small gardnes can grow plenty of cucumbers
You will use very little space but have healthier plants and abundant yields. And this is the top benefit of raised bed gardening versus in-ground.
Cucumbers are productive plants if you respect the amount of water they need, and the soil pH they require.
When planting cucumbers in raised beds, it's not really that different from planting them in the ground, but there are a few special considerations to keep in mind.
The two main types of cucumbers we grow are pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers. This growing guide covers both vining and bush varieties but make sure you read your seed packet for any special considerations required for the variety you’ve selected to grow.
Pickling cucumbers are stockier and have drier skins that are great for absorbing the pickle brine. Slicing cucumbers are great for snacking, sandwiches, and salads. They have thinner skin and longer fruit.
However, pickling cucumbers can still be eaten like slicing cucumbers, and slicing cuces can still be pickled if picked when young enough.
All cucumber varieties can be successfully grown in a raised bed but some will have much longer vines than others. The type of cucumber and the soil moisture will determine the length of the cucumber vine.
Growing Cucumbers from Seed
You can grow your cucumbers either indoors in trays or directly in the ground.The planting time depends on where you live, and how warm (or cold) the ground is for cucumbers. As they thrive in warmer soil temperature, you’ll need to wait 2 weeks after the last frost date to plant them in the ground outdoors.
When is my last frost date?
Materials For Indoor Seed Starting
To start cucumber seeds indoors, you want biodegradable pots that can be directly transplanted into the soil.
Pots where the bottoms can be torn away are best.
As the seedlings are not as strong when they first start to spring, if you transplant them from the pot in the ground, you might damage them.
Next, you need soil. Don't just dig up dirt from your garden, get soil made for seed starting for the highest success rates.
The temperature range for cucumber seed germination is 70° to 95°Fahrenheit or 21° to 35° Celsius. At these ideal temperatures, your cucumber seeds will germinate within 6 – 10 days. Many people use heat mats underneath their germination trays for best result.
I like to set it to around 70° Fahrenheit.
How to Start Cucumber Seeds Indoor Step by Step
- Start 2 to 4 weeks before your average last frost date.
- Get small, biodegradable pots and the right potting soil mixture.
- Moisten the soil (but allow for good drainage).
- Place one or two seeds sideways about half an inch deep.
- Cover the seeds with soil lightly.
- Keep in a warm place (on a window sill or on a heating pad)
- Keep soil moist but not soaking wet until germination occurs in 6-10 days.
- Water lightly but regularly and do not let the seedlings dry out.
Harden Off Seedlings (Step by Step)
To avoid transplant shock, you want to harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to the outer environment. And here’s how you do it.
- Introduce outside conditions gradually | Place seedlings outside (shielded from wind and direct sunshine) for an hour when the temperature is above 45° degrees Fahrenheit (8° Celsius).
- Put the plants back inside | After an hour, bring them inside and put them somewhere warm, such as a heated garage or basement.
- Increase exposure | Seedlings need to gradually adapt, so increase exposure by one hour each day. Don’t put seedlings outside on windy days or when it is below 45° Fahrenheit (8° Celsius). Don't forget to keep animals, snails, and slugs away from early plants. Put your seedlings on a table, inaccessible to animals.
- Increase the amount of sunlight | Over time, you can expose the seedlings to more direct sunlight. Early exposure to direct sunshine can burn the leaves of very young plants so be careful.
- Leave plants out during the night | You can leave the seedlings outside overnight once it hits 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius) both during the night and during the day. The temperature will allow the seedlings to stay outside, but in the warm weather, make sure to water the soil as to not let it dry up.
- Transplant | Your plants are ready to be planted after one to two weeks. Try to plant on a cloudy day, then go in and water the base of the plant heftily.
You can cover your delicate plants under row covers for the first few days — or longer — to be safe.
Where to Buy Seeds
For seeds I highly recommend Botanical Interests. All of their seeds are organic and germination rates are very high.
- Buy Organic Cucumber seeds at Botanical Interests (USA Only)
- Buy Cucumber seed on Amazon
- Buy Cucumber from Baker's Creek (Worldwide)
- Buy Cucumber From Urban Harvest (Canada Only)
This year we have decided to grow the 'Tasty Green' and 'Lemon' slicing variety as I'm not really interested in making my own pickles on top of all the other garden projects and canning looming ahead of me.
Granted, if you're following me on Instagram, you know i like to take on more than is good for me so that may change.
Transplant Into Raised Beds
When you are ready to transplant the seedling to your outdoor garden space, here is what you need to do:
- Prepare the garden beds | Prepare your raised garden beds by mixing soil with a compost mixture (store bought or your own, either way) and rake it so that the soil is loose enough for the seedling to grow uninterrupted. If you are doing no-dig square foot gardening as we do, your beds will have had 1-3 inches of compost added on top of them and require no raking.
- Prepare the holes for planting | Make holes that are 6 inches from the edge of the bed and 12 inches apart. The holes should be somewhat deeper and bigger than the pots holding the cucumber seedlings. If you are doing no-dig square foot gardening as we do, your holes will be two per square foot evenly spaced apart in the centre of the square.
- Plant the pots | Tear the bottom from your pot gently and put it into the hole you dug, just deep enough for the soil to cover the top of the pot. This helps the peat pot's breakdown process. You'll then need to pat the soil gently with your hands.
- Water on a regular basis | Because the majority of the cucumber’s body is water, it is extremely important you keep a great watering schedule.
- Mulch | This is optional but highly recommended for so many reasons that will only benefit you, your plants, and especially your soil. And for no dig square foot gardeners this is an essential step as we plant intensively and ask a lot from our soil. I like to use chopped straw and wood chips to mulch.
Use a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or sprinkler to gradually water the bed. I don’t like using powerful water jets, as they can harm tender young cucumber grafts.
How To Direct-Sow Cucumber Seeds Outside
- Planting | For direct seeding, start by planting 2-3 seeds 1 inch deep 2 weeks after the last frost date. For no dig square foot gardeners, you will plant more seedlings than you anticipate to grow, but remember that for cucumbers you can grow 2 plants per square foot.
- Thinning the Seedlings | You can start thinning the seedlings are around 4 inches tall. Instead of plucking the seedlings, cut them off at the base with small scissors to avoid disturbing the roots of the plants you intend to maintain.
- Maintain the plants with water and organic fertilizer as needed.
- Mulch your raised bed with your material of choice (chopped straw, straw, wood chips). Again this is optional, but so highly recommended.
Make sure you water the cucumbers enough, but not too much. Add in compost every 4 weeks or so, or simply add liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season (be careful not to put too much fertilizer!)
Four weeks after transplanting your new seedlings, put about 2 cups of compost around the base of each plant to supply nutrients for the growing season. You can also add manure if you have it, but make sure it is well-aged.
Trellising Cucumber in Raised Beds
Cucumbers that are trellised are simpler to harvest and less prone to bruising and rot and disease like powdery mildew.
It's also the best way to grow more in a small space and get the most out of your garden.
Instead of spreading out across the ground, cucumbers thrive when they can climb. The vines' tendrils will catch fences, rope, chicken wire trellis, or towering cages and climb them. The cucumber fruits stay clean, there is improved air circulation (essential for disease prevention), and the juicy cukes are easier to find because they hang. In this approach, plants also occupy a lot less room.
My favorite trellis in the garden is an arched one. You can build this yourself using t-posts and hog or cattle panels, or you can just buy a trellis. This is the Vegega metal trellis we are using in the garden this year. We got two of them! It's big, sturdy, affordable, and easy:
After lots of research, we have decided to install these beautiful and colorful metal raised beds in our annual garden. Metal raised beds are safe, rust and corrosion resistant, and should last 20+ years and much longer. Check out the 9-in-1 Metal Raised Garden Bed Large From Vegega.
To be able to harvest enough cucumbers that are juicy, tasty, and crunchy, you need to know a bit about when you can pluck them.
Most varieties take around 60 days from planting to harvesting, so if you plant your cukes in late May, you will enjoy your first cucumbers late July!
How Long Do Cucumber Plants Take To Grow?
Cucumbers are ready to harvest 50 to 70 days after sowing, depending on the type. The best guide for harvesting is the size of the cukes.
Cucumbers are tastiest when picked while they are young. Never let cucumbers become yellow since they get bitter as they grow larger.
Tips To Increase Yield
Harvest often and keep harvesting.
Letting plants sit on the vine will signal to your cucumber to slow down.
As cucumber plants are heat-sensitive, the fruit set may not happen if the temperature is in the mid-90s or higher for a few days. So, it might be a good idea to use a floating row cover so that the different varieties of cucumbers can have the best results during fruit production.
Care of Cucumber Plants
Cucumbers may seem like they need a lot of special attention, but in reality, they are quite easy. You just need to, pollinate, fertilize and water correctly, and you’ll have yourself the most amazing salad.
Sunlight & Heat
Cucumbers like a lot of sun. The more, the better. They like between 8 and 10 hours of full sun for more fruit. They will grow with less sunshine, but you won’t have as much yield.
If you don’t have plants that attract pollinator surrounding your cucumbers, you might need to pollinate them by hand. The easy way to do it is to use a hand brush or a cotton swab to pick pollen off of the male flower, and gently place it (or rather dust it) on the female flowers.
The best way you can fertilize your cucumbers is with your own compost. If you do not make your own (why aren’t you?) you can buy it from the store and add it in every 2-4 weeks to enrich the soil. You can also use liquid (organic) fertilizer or aged manure.
Cucumbers love water, at least one inch of water a week. If it’s extremely hot, water them more. Proper watering will give juiciness to your cucumbers. Check out my article covering the best water for plants too.
More than water, cucumbers love to climb. They thrive when they can climb, and you should either plant them near a fence, or install trellises for them to catch on.
Common Problems & Solutions
Powdery mildew is mainly caused by the fungus Podosphaera xanthii which infects all cucurbits including cucumber. Powdery mildew loves humid conditions. The best way to avoid it is by planting your cucumber on a trellis which allows for greater air circulation.
Your cucumber plants will draw both bees and other, not so helpful insects, like the cucumber beetle who will devour your plant. You can pluck them off by hand, build a cucumber beetle trap, or try a trap companion plant like the tansy to help in repelling the beetles.
Alternaria Leaf Blight
Alternaria leaf blight is a fungal disease that commonly affects cucumbers. Once you have this fungus, it’s difficult to get rid of. Lower-lying leaves are usually the first to show signs of infection – small, brown spots. Yellow, halo-like rings will form around the spots. Watering the soil, not the leaves will help, as will trellising and keeping the beds clean.
One way to potentially fight pests and fungal diseases is crop rotation in your raised beds.
You can try to plant cucumbers after spinach or legumes, and then in the fall, plant a nitrogen-fixing ground cover, like clover.
Crop rotation can be a vital component of pest and fungal diseases avoidance.
Gourds that draw pests may bring issues if you leave them in the same spot year after year. If you have multiple raised beds, keep track where you plant your cucumbers and switch it out from time to time.
- Armenian (Slicing)
- Homemade Pickles (Pickling)
- Hokus (Pickling)
- Lemon (Slicing)
- Marketmore (Slicing)
- Poinsett 76 (Slicing)
- Spacemaster 80 (Slicing & Pickling)
- Tasty Green (Slicing)
- Telegraph improved (Slicing)
All of the above organic heirloom seeds are available at Botanical Interests. This year I'm growing the "Tasty Green" which is thin-skinned, burpless, and has small seeds. I'm also growing the "Lemon" which should be fun!
Cucumbers will thrive in raised beds! All they need is plenty of direct sunlight and rich, nutritious soil along with proper care.
Cucumbers require deeper raised beds to really thrive. Standard depth is 12 inches, and certain varieties, like Ilona, cucumber will do fine in that as its roots spread out more rather than going deep. But cucumbers will really thrive in a minimum of 16-18 inches of depth.
Using square foot gardening techniques, you can grow up to 32 cucumber plants in a 4x8 raised bed or plot. However, cucumbers are extremely prolific and this is likely way too much for the average individual or family that isn't growing as a business.
Cucumbers do much better on a trellis. A trellis allows air to circulate (which prevents disease like powdery mildew) and the fruit is cleaner and less prone to bruising. Plus, it is easier to spot and pick cucumber fruit on a trellis.
Two to three cucumber plants per person for eating fresh is more than enough if you relly love cucumbers. If you plan to pickle cucumbers, a healthy pickle cucumber plant will produce about 5 pounds of cucumbers per plant.
Companion planting is a great way to help you to grow healthy plants. Dill is a great one to plant! Tomatoes grow in the same conditions and attract the same pollinators, but they also attract the same diseases. However, if you plant companion plants like onions, root vegetables (like radishes and carrots) and legumes (like peas, beans and lentils) and dill and oregano, your cucumbers will flourish.
Sage and mint are the worst offenders of cucumbers, as they can interfere with their taste. Apart from these, cucumbers do not like to grow next to plants that will compete for water with them (such as melons, potatoes, cauliflowers, cabbage, etc)
And that is how you grow cucumbers in a raised bed. Pretty simple? I think so. Let me know if you have any cucumber-growing questions in the comments! And check out some of my other growing guides and gardening and homesteading articles below.
Grow Your Food
- 12 Edible Berries That Grow on Trees
- The Best & Worst Strawberry Companion Plants According To Science
- How Many Asparagus Plants Per Person?
- How To Grow Asparagus From Crowns (Complete Guide)
- Planting Asparagus Seeds: A Comprehensive Grow Guide
- The Best and Worst Companion Plants for Asparagus
- Stop Making These Critical Fall Gardening Mistakes: Get Your Soil Ready For Spring Now
- 25 Real Ways To Prepare For Food Shortages in 2024 & Beyond