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How To Grow Cucumbers In Raised Beds

Cucumbers are a delicious and refreshing vegetable, fantastic in salads, as a chip replacement, or in pickles. You can even make some tangy and tasty drinks using cucumbers or cucumber juice! 

Growing your own cucumbers is one of the best ways to get the best taste, the most nutrients, and the freshest cukes for your summer table. Growing cucumbers in raised beds can make them easier to care for and a lot more productive, but only if you do it right. 

Here’s what you need to know about growing cucumbers in raised beds, whether you want some fresh cucumbers for your salads or want a big batch of pickle-sized cucumbers to preserve. 

Everything You Need To Know To Grow Cucumbers In Raised Beds

A few ways raised beds are different from planting your cucumbers directly in the ground. We’ll cover the differences between raised bed planting and regular planting and cover what you need to know to grow cucumbers effectively. 

Sound good? Great! Let’s get started. 

Getting Your Raised Bed Ready For Planting

You need to know what you need to get your raised bed ready for cucumbers. That means thinking about the location of the raised bed, what kind of soil you’re going to fill the raised bed with, and how deep the raised bed needs to be. 

If you already have a raised bed, you might not need some of the information in this section, so feel free to skip down to sections about caring for your cucumber plants. 

How Deep Should A Cucumber Raised Bed Be? 

Cucumber plants have relatively deep roots, which means that you need to have a relatively large raised bed. Your raised bed should be at least 18 inches deep if it’s raised above the ground. 

If your raised bed is on the ground, it doesn’t have to be as deep, but you need to turn over the soil and prepare the ground for planting before filling the raised bed with additional soil. That way, your cucumber plants will have plenty of loose soil for root growth, and turning the soil will help improve drainage. 

How Much Space Do You Need Per Cucumber Plant

Cucumber plants like to spread out, and their large roots mean that they need a good amount of space even when you’re planning to trellis the plants. Ideally, you should have about two plants per square foot in your grow bed. 

You can plant your cucumbers with more space than 2 per square foot, but you shouldn’t crowd them more. 

Of course, there are exceptions, and some cultivars need more or less space to grow effectively. Make sure you look up the growing needs of your specific cultivars and types of cucumbers before planting to make sure you’re making the most efficient use of space. 

Do You Need To Trellis Cucumbers In A Raised Bed? 

While you don’t necessarily need a cucumber trellis to grow cucumbers in a raised bed, it’s a good idea to improve your cucumber yields dramatically. 

There are a few reasons trellises are helpful. Having a trellis increases the amount of space available to each plant, which means more room for leaves, flowers, and fruit. 

Trellises can also make it easier to protect your cucumbers while they grow, especially from slugs and snails and other pests that are more likely to find the growing cucumbers if they’re resting on the ground instead of in the air. 

Lastly, having a cucumber trellis makes it easier to see the mature fruits, which means you’re less likely to miss when you can harvest a cucumber and less likely to accidentally let them get too big and watery. 

Do Cucumbers Need Full Sun In A Raised Bed? 

Yes, like many other vegetable-producing plants, cucumbers need a lot of sunlight to grow well. That means that when you’re planning your raised bed location, you should aim for somewhere that gets between 8-12 hours of good sun exposure. 

Some cucumber varieties do want a little more sun protection and grow better at higher latitudes. So, this is another place where knowing what cultivar of cucumbers you’re going to grow can change how you plan your garden and where you place your raised beds. 

All cucumbers need at least partial sun and will benefit from a couple of hours of direct natural sunlight; even the low sunlight varieties will grow faster and be more productive if they have a couple of hours of sunlight. 

Filling Your Raised Beds – What Kind Of Soil Do Cucumber Plants Prefer?

Since raised beds are an opportunity to have exactly the kind of soil your plants need, it’s important to think about what kind of soil each vegetable or fruit will thrive in. 

The ideal soil is a little picky when it comes to cucumbers, but you can mix the right combination of soils to get there. 

Cucumbers are like sandy soil with lots of organic content, which is fairly loamy. They need to drain well but hold enough moisture so that the soil rarely dries out completely to bone dry. You also need to add organic content fairly regularly because cucumbers will quickly pull the essential nutrients out of the soil while actively fruiting. 

Planting Time – How To Plant For A Good Cucumber Harvest

Now that you know how to set up your raised beds for cucumbers, you need to know about the cucumbers themselves and how to plant them for a good harvest. 

How Many Cucumbers Will You Get Per Plant?

There is a fair amount of variation between cucumber cultivars and between different cultivars and heirloom plants. However, on average, a single cucumber plant will produce up to 10 3-4oz cucumbers. 

The same plants can produce 4-5 1-3 lbs. cucumbers but will not produce as many large vegetables. 

Again, pay attention to your cultivar. Pickling cucumber plants can sometimes produce a dozen or more cucumbers, but they’re smaller. Large fruit cucumbers will typically produce fewer individual fruits, but there are some more productive varieties available as long as you’re willing to adjust the care of the plant. 

When Should You Plant Cucumbers? 

Cucumbers do not like frost and grow better in warmed soil. That means that you need to wait until at least after the last frost before you begin planting your cucumbers outside. Ideally, you should wait until soil temps reach about 60 degrees on average. 

Suppose you need to plant the cucumber plants before the soil reaches the ideal temperature. In that case, that’s usually okay as long as the soil temp is above freezing and hopefully above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How Much Water Do Cucumber Plants Need? 

Cucumbers are a relatively water-greedy plant, but that doesn’t mean they need constant water all the time. Instead, plan on giving the raised beds at least an inch of water per week, preferably in 1-2 waterings, so that the soil has a chance to dry enough to prevent root rot. 

How Often Should You Water Your Cucumber Plants? 

In the height of summer, cucumbers might need to be watered as many as three times a week to make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry between waterings. 

The goal of watering your cucumber should be to water it deep into the soil instead of creating a shallow damp area. Aim to water at least 1/2 an inch per watering, up to 2 inches during the height of summer heat and fruiting season. 

Companion Plants For Cucumbers

Companion plants are a good way to get more fruit for less work in your garden. These plants are good for planting, mixed with cucumber plants, or next to cucumbers to help encourage healthy growth and deter pests. 

Corn and Sunflowers

Corn and sunflowers, along with other heavy stalked plants, can be a good option for growing with cucumbers because they form a natural trellis the cucumber vines can climb. 

These plants also help provide some coverage and help keep moisture in the ground where the cucumbers can use it. 

Peas Beans And Lentils

Peas, beans, and lentils are also good companion plants that can share a trellis with the cucumber plants. Additionally, all of these plants are nitrogen-fixing, which means that they can help maintain the kinds of nutrients your cucumbers need in the soil. 

Marigold

Marigolds aren’t just a pretty flower; they’re also good for deterring pests and helping keep your garden less infested. 

Oregano And Dill

These herbs can be delicious with cucumbers, but they’re also good for keeping pests off your cucumber plants and boosting your harvest. 

Root Vegetables

Several root vegetables can share space with cucumbers without overcrowding and can help provide soil cover so your dirt doesn’t dry out too much. Carrots, onions, beets, and radishes all work for his kind of planting. 

Common Cucumber Pests And Diseases

Now that you’re ready to plan your raised bed location, how you want to plant your cucumbers, and how many plants you need, as well as some good companion planting options, the last thing you need to be prepared for planting cucumbers is what kinds of pests and diseases you need to watch for. 

Alternaria Leaf Blight

Alternaria leaf blight affects many leaky plants, including almost all brassica vegetables and some melons and squashes. Cucumbers are one of the affected plants, and they can be difficult to treat unless caught early and treated aggressively. 

A fungicide can be used to treat Alternaria blight. You may also want to remove affected leaves if you catch the problem while only a small percentage of leaves are affected. 

Alternaria blight presents itself as small brown spotting on the leaves, eventually spreading to kill the entire leaf. Eventually, Alternaria blight can kill the whole plant, and it spreads easily between plants so that it can take out your whole crop. 

Cucumber Mosaic

Cucumber mosaic creates a pale or yellow mosaic pattern on the cucumber plants and the fruits themselves. Unfortunately, this virus isn’t very treatable, and you need to remove affected plants as soon as you realize they have the virus; otherwise, they will communicate the virus to the other nearby plants. 

Because cucumber mosaic can affect almost all of the nearby companion plants, it needs to be controlled quickly, or you may lose the entire garden. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew creates a loose white powder predominantly on the leaves and blossoms. In some cases, it may also spread to the waxy coating outside the cucumber fruit. 

Powdery mildew can be treated with a spray-on fungicide. 

Bacteria Wilt

Bacteria wilt is challenging to treat in cucumber plants. Still, you can help avoid getting it in your cucumbers by planting with any soil used previously to grow potatoes. 

Aphids

Aphids are one of the most common insect pests that affect cucumbers and will typically infest the underside of leaves, multiplying to large numbers and spreading to all nearby available hosts. Aphids can be controlled with a combination of insecticidal soap, natural predators like ladybugs, and by preventing the infestation from getting too bad. 

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles can look like yellow ladybugs and may be spotted or striped. Sticky traps or a shop vacuum can be used to control their population, but you will probably need to treat the plants several times to avoid the beetles eating too much of the leaves. 

Cabbage Loopers

Cabbage loopers, also called cabbage worms, are a type of caterpillar known for defoliating vegetables. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap, pesticides, or by introducing natural predators like praying mantis garden spiders or other kinds of ground beetles. 

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are similar to fruit flies but slightly smaller and paler than fruit flies. These insects interfere with fruiting to encourage the plants to continue growing leaves and stem to take advantage of the sugary sap they eat. 

They won’t kill your plants, but they can prevent you from getting a good vegetable yield. 

Whiteflies can be controlled with natural predators and insecticidal soap. Fly traps will occasionally work but aren’t as effective as other control methods. 

Slugs and Snails

Coffee grounds, eggshells, and wood ash can all be good ways to keep slugs and snails out of your garden while also helping keep your cucumber plants healthy. There are also commercial snail treatments that can help eliminate them and also provide long-term protection.