Can You Grow Cucumbers All year Round?

To grow cucumbers all year round, you’ll need a heated greenhouse and grow lights.

For most home growers, a heated greenhouse is too expensive to set up and maintain, but you can get an earlier crop with an inexpensive, unheated polytunnel or mini greenhouse.

You’ll still need to plant a variety that can cope with cooler temperatures though.

By planting an early variety under cover and a later maincrop variety outdoors, you’ll get to harvest cucumbers over a longer period of time.

Early varieties will also grow outdoors, but you’ll need to wait a little longer to plant them.

Cucumbers are a summer crop, and when grown outdoors most varieties need lots of warm sunshine to grow well. However, some varieties have been bred to grow well in cooler climates, and they can give you a good crop even in cool, cloudy summers.

Extend Your Growing Season By Choosing Two Cucumber Varieties

The easiest and least costly way to get a longer harvesting season with your cucumber plants, is to plant an early and a maincrop variety.

Early varieties still need warm growing conditions, but the fruits will mature ahead of their maincrop cousins, which means you get to start eating your veggies a few weeks early.

Early varieties can be ready to pick in 45 – 50 days, while maincrops usually take 70 days to mature. That’s a 3 week difference.

Reliable, early cucumber varieties include:

  • Boothby’s Blonde Heirloom Cucumber – This is a small, yellow cucumber with sweet, crisp, flesh. Bred in Maine, this cucumber is well suited to a short growing season with cooler temperatures, and sets fruit quickly. Slicing or pickling variety, matures in 55 – 60 days.
  • Picolino Cucumber – This is a very early maturing variety with sweet flesh and thin, green, skin. Great for slicing or pickling, and ready to harvest in 45 – 50 days.
  • Tamara Cucumber – If you live in the United Kingdom, you might be able to get your hands on some of this excellent, but rare, cucumber seed. Tamara is an early variety, with great disease resistance, and if you prefer cucumbers with very few seeds, you’ll love this one. Slicing variety, matures in 55 days. Buy from Real Seeds.
  • Early Fortune Cucumber – A dependable, sweet-tasting, slicing cucumber that is rarely bitter. Grows 7 – 8 inches long and takes 55 days to maturity.
  • Russian Pickling Cucumber – This is a smooth-skinned, green cucumber with sweet, crunchy, flesh. Matures in 50 – 55 days.

For your main season variety, you can choose whatever you fancy.

Extend Your Growing Season With A Polytunnel Or Mini Greenhouse

You can plant your early varieties sooner if you can offer them the protection of a polytunnel or mini greenhouse.

Your plants will thrive in these much warmer daytime temperatures, and even though the growing space is unheated, a greenhouse will still be a little warmer at nighttime.

Make a warmer micro-climate around your plants by creating some mini heat reservoirs to place inside your greenhouse.

These are easy to make.

All you need are some empty, plastic milk jugs or other large containers that will hold water. Spray the outside with black paint (better for heat absorption) then fill with water and place around your plants.

During the day these will heat up, then as the temperature drops at night, they will release their heat, keeping the immediate area around your cucumber plants a little warmer.

If you have space inside a larger polytunnel, think about placing a water barrel inside, next to your cucumber plants.

The large volume of water will hold more heat and act as a superb heat reservoir for your polytunnel micro-climate.

The Best Position For A Mini Greenhouse

Mini greenhouses are usually made from a lightweight aluminum frame with plastic glazing. Other types are made from a steel (or plastic) tubular frame with a plastic film cover and a zipped opening at the front for access.

The plastic film greenhouses are easy to move around from place to place, giving you a wider range of siting options.

With either type, you’ll get warmer temperatures for your early varieties by placing your greenhouse up against the south facing wall of your house.

Your house absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night. With your greenhouse against your house wall, that heat will keep your plants warmer.

Can You Grow Cucumbers In The Winter?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could!

Cucumbers need heat and sunlight to grow outdoors, and they hate frost, so winter growing is only possible in heated greenhouses, with lots of bright grow lights.

Do Cucumber Plants Last All Year?

No. Cucumber plants will stop production once the temperatures drop, and the foliage will die as soon as the first early frost strikes.

When Can Cucumbers Go In An Unheated Greenhouse?

You’ll need to monitor your nighttime temperatures to figure out when you can plant your cucumbers out in your unheated greenhouse or polytunnel.

Different parts of the world have very different growing seasons, so it’s impossible to say to everyone, ‘Plant out your cucumbers at the end of April’, which is when I would put my plants in my polytunnel.

Use an outdoor thermometer to measure your temperatures. Don’t rely on the often inaccurate temperatures in the local weather report.

Once temperatures are regularly above 60 F (15 C) at night, cucumbers will be fine in an unheated greenhouse.

You can plant them out a little earlier, if you use horticultural fleece to cover them up at night. Horticultural fleece adds several degrees of warmth for your plants.

If you place the mini heat reservoirs under the fleece with your cucumbers, the temperature will be even better!

What Temperatures Do Cucumbers Like?

The ideal daytime temperature: for cucumbers is 70 F (21 C) – 90 F (32 C).

Do You Need To Pollinate Cucumbers?

Some F1 hybrid cucumbers are self-pollinating. Open-pollinated or heirloom varieties need insect pollination, or pollination by human hand.

If you’re growing under cover, make sure you open the door, or unzip the front opening during the day to let pollinators in.

Will Cucumbers Survive Frost?

No. Cucumbers are a tender, summer plant and cold temperatures and frosts will kill them.

If you’ve already got cucumbers planted outdoors and a late frost is forecast, use horticultural fleece to cover the plants. This will keep the frost off the leaves and your plants should survive, as long as the temperature warms up again the following day.

For the last couple of years, we’ve had some occasional and very unusual, late frosts in mid May. Our uncovered cucumber and squash plants took heavy damage and didn’t recover. Luckily we we still had time to plant more.

If you’re only growing a few cucumber plants (and that’s all most families need), you won’t need much fleece, so it’s not a great expense.

Can You Plant Cucumbers In The Ground?

Yes, of course!

While many people prefer to grow all manner of vegetable plants in containers of every shape and size, I’m a huge fan of growing in the ground.

For best results, mix some compost with your soil and create a mound, approximately 18 inches (45 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) high.

Plant 4 transplants into the mound.

If you want to sow seed directly, use a pencil to make holes 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep, spaced 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart, around the mound. Place the holes a few inches in from the edge.

Place 1 seed in each hole, cover, and water in. Once the seeds have sprouted and grown to about 4 inches (10 cm) tall, choose the 4 strongest seedlings to keep and pinch out the others.

Can Cucumbers Get Too Much Sun?

Six to eight hours of sunshine is ideal for cucumbers.

But your cucumbers will get stressed if the weather is very hot and the sun blazes down on them all day.

You can help your plants by covering with them shade cloth during the hottest part of the day, when the sun is at its strongest.

Do Cucumbers Do Well In Shade?

No, they really don’t like too much shade at all.

If your garden is north-facing or shaded by large trees, you can plant your cucumbers in containers and set them in a sunnier part of your outdoor space.

How Long Does It Take For Cucumbers To Grow?

Early varieties will be ready to pick at 40 – 55 days. Maincrop varieties take about 70 days to mature.

Make sure you pick regularly and thoroughly for a longer harvesting season.

Once you’ve picked all the mature fruits, the plant gets to work producing more cucumbers.

But if you miss a few cucumbers in the dense foliage, the plant will decide that its work is done because it has produced its seed for the next generation.

Do Cucumbers Like Morning Or Afternoon Sun?

Cucumbers like and need both!

But if you’re having a very hot summer, your cucumbers will benefit from some afternoon shade.

Set some posts or strong bamboo canes around your plants and tie string between them to act as a support for some shade cloth.

You can remove the cloth once the worst of the day’s heat has passed.

Do Cucumbers Like Wet Soil?

No. Like most vegetable plants, cucumbers need moist, freely draining soil. They need water, but if their roots are sitting in soggy soil, they will rot.

How Much Water Do Cucumbers Need?

Water your plants once or twice a week. When it’s very warm, twice a week is best.

They’ll need 2 inches of water.

Make sure you water at the base of the plants, aiming your watering can or hose at the soil rather than the leaves, (wet leaves are prone to fungal diseases).

If your schedule gives you time to tend to your plants in the morning, then this is the best time to water.

With lower morning temperatures, the water will have time to soak into the soil instead of much of it being lost through surface evaporation.

Plus, any water you do get on the leaves will have all day to dry in the sun.

How Much Space Do Cucumbers Need?

Check your seed packet for instructions for your variety.

Typical spacings are as follows:

  • For vining types planted in hills : Make mounds 18 inches (45 cm) wide, spaced 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart in every direction. Hills can be closer together if you trellis your plants so they grow upwards on the supports rather than spreading out across the ground. Three feet spacing is fine for trellised cucumbers.
  • For bush types planted in hills: Space your mounds 3 feet (90 cm) apart.
  • For vining types planted in rows: Space the plants in the rows 1 to 1.5 feet apart (30 cm – 45 cm). Leave 6 feet (1.8 m) between rows. If you’re using trellises, 3 feet (90 cm) is enough.
  • For bush types planted in rows: Plant cucumbers 1 to 1.5 feet (30 cm – 45 cm) along the row and leave 3 feet (90 cm) between rows.

Can You Replant A Cucumber Plant?

No, not really. Cucumbers are fussy about their roots being disturbed, so if a pet has dug them up, the plant will most likely die even if you replant it. It’s always worth a shot, though.

Loosen the soil and pop the plant back into the hole, water well and wait. If the plant is wilting after a few days, pull it out, drop it on your compost pile, and put something else in its place.

If it’s not too late in the season, you can sow some seed in situ and grow a replacement cucumber plant.

When Can You Move Your Cucumbers Plants Outside?

Wait until nighttime temperatures are reliably over 60 F (15 C) before placing your cucumber plants outdoors. May and June should be fine in most locations.

How Do You Harden-Off Cucumber Seedlings?

Cucumbers need a period of hardening-off before you move them outdoors permanently.

Place them in a warm, sheltered spot, away from direct sunlight for a few hours each day.

Start with 2 – 3 hours on day one, then add one hour per day for the next 10 days.

Final Thoughts

Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and very productive given the right conditions. Choose early maturing varieties to get a head-start on your harvests, and try to provide some protection and extra warmth with a mini greenhouse, horticultural fleece, and mini heat reservoirs.

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Kate Prince

Hey there! I’m a small scale homesteader sharing what I know about the off-grid life. I grow fruits and vegetables, raise chickens and goats, and produce my own power, heat, and clean water.   Feel free to send me a message.