We conducted a little trial in our garden this year by growing cucumbers in raised beds. We had great results so I'm sharing our tips today.
It's a traditional practice for all gardeners to reflect on the past growing season and decide what grew and produced well or not. We have been fortunate to have a bountiful garden this year.
I attribute part of that success to having a mild spring and early summer with regular amounts of rainfall. It has only been recently that the temps here in South Carolina have jumped up into the upper 90s. When that happens, most things stop flowering and producing and begin the whole withering process.
Except for the cucumbers. Oh my goodness. I am still harvesting cucumbers daily.
We normally grow our cucumbers along our garden fence because it serves as a trellis for them. And these days we incorporate cucumber companion plants that thrive together.
There are 2 types of cucumbers with 2 types of growth habits.
- pickling and slicing
- bush and vining
We always grow pickling cucumbers and the varieties that we plant are either Kirby or Boston pickling. Both of those varieties are vining cucumbers that can grow up to 6 feet in length.
It is not good to allow the vines to grow on the ground because it promotes plant diseases so we use our garden fence as a trellis for the vines.
The cucumber plant produces tendrils that attach to the fence to help it climb. I will have to admit that I help the plant along by wrapping some of the tendrils around the fence wire when I see that they are not attached.
Pickling cucumbers are the smaller cucumbers with a thicker, bumpy skin that helps the cucumbers stay crisp when pickling. Of course, you don't have to pickle them.
They are great in salads and other recipes because they are crunchy and mild. Try one of these fresh cucumber salad recipes paired with your favorite proteins.
This year, we decided to do a little experiment to see how well the cucumbers would grow in raised beds.
The photo above was taken at the end of March when we planted 16 cucumber transplants in a 4' x 8' raised bed.
And this photo that was taken a few weeks ago shows how well the cucumber vines grew. We used 2 of our DIY tomato cages to give support to the vines.
The plants produced prolifically and I will have to say that growing cucumbers in raised beds was a great success. They grew so well that I think we could have opened a pickle factory!
If you have backyard space to create raised beds, I encourage you to do so. You can grow a lot of food in a small space.
Tips for growing cucumbers in raised beds
- locate the raised beds in an area that receives a lot of sun
- add compost to the soil in the raised bed
- test the pH of the soil before planting-cucumbers like a neutral pH (6.5)
- wait until the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees F before planting
- light frosts will burn or kill tender cucumber plants so plan on frost protection
- provide a trellis or other such support for the vines
- mulch the soil to help retain moisture
- make sure the soil remains moist at all times-regular watering is the KEY to avoiding bitter cucumbers!
- fertilize the plants after they begin producing blossoms (I used Tomato-Tone Organic Fertilizer)
- harvest the cucumbers frequently and gently
- do not allow the cucumbers to grow too large because the plant will think that it's finished its work
It was happenstance that a sunflower started growing beside the cucumbers in our raised bed. I've always heard that growing sunflowers near cucumbers made them sweeter. I'm not sure how true that is but we've had the best tasting cucumbers this year.
But I will admit that I was diligent with my watering.
The sunflower is now bowing its head as a signal to the end of our summer growing season. You can see that the cucumber vines climbed its stalk and that they make great companion plants.
Why grow cucumbers in raised beds?
- the greatest benefit is that raised beds provide good soil drainage
- you can grow more cucumbers in a smaller space
- it is easier to control the soil health and the weeds
- harvesting is easier because the cucumbers are at eye level
What I do with all of our cucumbers?
- make dill relish, sweet cucumber relish, traditional bread and butter pickles, and zesty bread and butter pickles
- make cucumber sandwich spread
- make cucumber salad
- and my all-time #1 post fresh cucumber salad dressing
- 15 cucumber salad recipes
It's probably a good thing that our summer garden season is nearing its end. I don't know how many more cucumbers he can support!
How deep should the soil be for tomato’s….I have a 55 gallon drum that im gonna cut in half and bolt some 4x4’s to it so it’s off the ground like 2 or3 feet…would the drum be ok for tomato’s…and do tomato’s require the same amount of sun and watering as cucumbers
Hi! Thanks for the great article. How many pickling cucumber plants do you think could be planted in a 4x8 garden bed? I put trellises around the side (homemade, used old fencing material) and I'll put tomato cages in the middle. Also, for pickling, the use of alum helps with the crunch!
Building rise bed or cucumbers on a top of my backyard lawn. How deep I should break clay subsoil? Thanks
If you make the soil in your raised beds about 8-10 inches deep, you will not need to dig out that clay. The roots of cucumbers spread out rather than going deep. You should be fine.
Hi Jane. I purchased two tiered garden beds. Would tomato’s go best in the deepest tier and then cucumbers best in the 3rd-least deepest tier? Thank you for this awesome, helpful article! I’ve pinned it for next year!
Yes, it would be best to plant the tomatoes in the deepest part. Good luck with your gardening!
Beautiful garden! I was wondering if you lined the raised beds with landscape fabric? Also, how deep were your garden beds? Can cucumbers grown in 24” deep garden beds or do they need more root space?
Ilona, cucumber roots seems to spread out rather than going deep so you should be fine with beds in which the soil is only 10-12 inches deep. We did not put landscape fabric in our beds and they are surrounded by centipede grass which spreads so we have to pull grass out of our soil each season before planting.
Thank you for taking the time to reply!
Shirley @Housepitality Designs
Oh I envy those who can have a true garden...We battle the deer... chased a family of deer out of the yard who ate my flowers...really thought they would stay away....
Your raised garden is beautiful and soon to be bountiful...and the "Tin Man" is adorable!
Looking forward to seeing what you do with the cucumbers!
Thanks so much Shirley! Our fence around the garden keeps out the nearby deer.
Your garden is beautiful! ❤️🌱
Thanks so much for the compliment. The garden is a lot of work but it's so rewarding!
When you make pickles , do they stay crunchy? Mine always turn mushy.
I get the pickling cucumbers and spices. I follow the recipe.
I guess my question is do you have a good recipe for dill pickles?
I don't have a good recipe for dill pickles on the blog for the same reason. When I do make them, I have used Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle mix that comes in a package. You can find it at Walmart and other grocery stores. When I have used the mix, the pickles do stay crunchy. I guess Mrs. Wages has it all figured out!
I know this is old and you may not see it, but my trick to crunchy pickles is that I do not boil the cucumbers in the brine. Put all your ingredients in the jars, boil brine separately. Also boil jar lids. Fill jars with boiling water just to cover all ingredients. Top with sterilized cover and twist on ring tight. Set aside and don't move until they seal. Sometime it takes a whole day. They stay so crunchy!
Francis C. Moore
I saw your beautiful zinnas in the pictures. I bought expensive plants, planted them, and then they were attacked by something. I ended up pulling them up. Most of my plants get small brown spots on the leaves. Then the rabbits attack. Your cucumber vines are beautiful. I have one vine which I planted in a bucket. No luck. I don't have much space for gardening.
Gardening can be a real challenge at times, Francis.