You know that feeling? Biting into a store-bought cucumber and realizing it’s just… meh? I’m on a mission to change that. Cucumbers fresh from the vine, bursting with flavor – that’s the dream!

Raised beds are the perfect place for growing these long, vining plants. With a little know-how and the right setup, you can grow thriving cucumber plants and maximize your harvests. 

I’m sharing all my best practices for growing cucumbers in raised beds, from preparing the soil to providing proper care and support. Get ready for a summer filled with refreshing homegrown goodness!

How to Grow Cucumbers In Raised Bed Gardens

CHOOSING THE PERFECT RAISED BED

Before you dive headfirst into seed packets and soil, there’s the matter of the raised garden bed itself. Here’s what you need to consider to create the perfect growing space for your cucumbers. 

Raised Bed Depth Makes a Difference

Cucumber roots love to dig down deep. Aim for a raised bed with at least 12 inches of soil depth, and ideally 18-24 inches. This extra space allows the roots to dig down deep to support the plant and search for extra nutrients. 

The result? Healthier plants and bigger harvests. Think of it like giving your cucumber plants a spacious underground mansion to thrive in!

Choose Your Favorite Raised Bed Material

There are several different raised bed material options that will keep your cucumbers (and all your other veggies) happy. 

Wood

Wood brings a touch of rustic charm to your garden, and cedar and redwood are popular picks for their durability and natural pest resistance. It’s best to use 2”-thick boards for greater longevity of your beds. 

Steel 

Steel raised beds offer superior durability and won’t succumb to rot or warping. They’re a great choice for long-term raised-bed gardening. The downside? Steel can be hot to the touch, and you may see some drier soil on the edges of the steel beds due to the extra heat. Shop our corten steel beds.

Modular Metal 

Raised bed kits like Vego or Birdies are my top choice for the DIY gardener. They’re easy to put together and come in many different sizes and colors to suit your taste and backyard. Plus, they’re easy on the budget, as well. 

Stone

If you would like a garden bed that can stand the test of time, then building a stone garden bed is well worth the investment. The next generation of gardeners will be growing cucumbers in these raised beds. 

custom stone raised bed garden

 

WHERE TO PLANT CUCUMBERS

Now that you’ve picked out your raised bed material, you need to pick the best location for your raised bed. Cucumbers need at least 6-8 hours of direct sun a day to thrive. 

So look for a sunny location that gets a good dose of morning or afternoon rays (preferably morning if you live somewhere HOT like me down here in Texas). 

The best way to gauge sun exposure in a potential garden spot is to observe it throughout the day. I like to do this by taking a photo of the possible garden location each hour of the day. This will help you decide if it gets enough sunlight for your plants.

 

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BEST SOIL FOR CUCUMBERS

It’s time to consider the best soil for your raised bed garden. I recommend a well-draining mix combining topsoil, compost, coarse sand, and organic matter such as worm castings. 

You can usually find a suitable mix at a landscaping supply company. You can always add more compost and worm castings to help improve any soil blend. 

Healthy soil is dark, almost black. In addition to color, you can also judge soil quality by its structure. It should have some moisture retention and crumble gently in your hand when moist. You don’t want soil that falls apart like sand when you try to hold it, but you also don’t want a clay ball. 

DO CUCUMBER PLANTS NEED TRELLISING?

 

You don’t absolutely need a trellis for cucumber plants, but it sure makes things a lot easier! 

Here’s the thing—there are two main types of cucumbers: vining and bush varieties. Bush cucumbers are more compact and grow like little bushes, so they don’t necessarily require a trellis.

However, vining cucumbers, which are the most common type, are those long, sprawling vines. They naturally want to climb and reach for sunlight. While they can technically grow on the ground, it’s not ideal. 

Growing Cucumbers in Raised Beds - Do Cucumbers Need Trellising

Here’s why a trellis is a lifesaver for vining cucumbers:

Trellises Provide Air Circulation 

A trellis provides a supportive structure for the vines to climb up, instead of staying low and becoming a tangled mess. This allows for better air circulation throughout the plant. Good air circulation helps prevent moisture build-up on leaves and fruits, which can lead to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. Strong air circulation also promotes faster drying after watering or rain, further reducing the risk of disease. 

Trellises Help Prevent Fruit Rot  

Keeping your cucumbers off the ground means they’re not touching the soil, which can actually  harbor moisture and pathogens that can cause blemishes or worse, rot. Trellising keeps your cucumbers clean, dry, and less susceptible to these problems.

Trellising Cucumbers Gives You More Growing Space

Your garden real estate is precious, and cucumber vines can sprawl like nobody’s business.  Trellising utilizes vertical space, allowing your cucumber plants to grow upwards instead of outwards. This frees up valuable garden space for other vegetables or flowers.

Check out some of my favorite trellises in the LGS Store.

 

BEST CUCUMBER VARIETIES TO GROW IN RAISED BEDS

Choose between slicing cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, and burpless cucumbers—or grow them all. In case you’re wondering, burpless varieties are so called because regular cucumbers have been known to upset the digestive system. Burpless varieties were bred to have less of the bitter compound that leads to burps. 

Growing Cucumbers in Raised Beds - Best Cucumber Varieties to Grow in Raised Beds

Slicing Cucumbers

Bush Slicer Cucumbers – This is a dwarf bush variety that’s perfect for container gardens or small spaces with smaller trellises. You’ll get lots of smooth fruits with sweet flesh. 

Spacemaster Cucumbers – This plant is perfect for growing lots and lots of plants in your garden. Its vines grow only 2’ to 3’ tall but produce tons of full-size, flavorful cucumbers. 

Japanese Cucumber – Heat-loving Japanese cucumbers are perfect for hot summers. The fruit has a thin skin and grows straight, great for slicing!

Pickling Cucumbers 

Hokus Gherkin Cucumbers – This type produces seedless fruits that are perfect for pickling. Harvest when each little fruit is between 2” and 4” long for the crunchiest French cornichons (which means “little horns” thanks to the tiny spines on the skin). 

Homemade Pickles Cucumbers – This type has been bred to produce tons of little cucumbers with the perfect texture for pickles. 

Burpless Cucumbers

Armenian Cucumbers – This variety does great in the heat and will keep producing all the way into the fall. It’s actually a variety of melon with light green flesh and thin skin. 

Lemon Cucumbers – This drought-tolerant type grows round cucumbers that look like lemons. Fruits are perfect for slicing, pickling, or eating whole with the skin. 

WHEN TO PLANT CUCUMBER SEEDS OR TRANSPLANTS

Cucumbers like it warm, and they are not at all a fan of the cold. They thrive when temperatures range from 70° to 85°F. 

Plant cucumber seeds or transplants directly in the garden at least 2 weeks after your last frost date. That way, the soil has had time to warm up and there are no chances of random frosts arriving and killing your new baby plants. 

If you plan on using a trellis, make sure it’s in place before planting your seeds or transplants. 

Growing Cucumbers in Raised Beds - When to Plant Cucumber Seeds or Transplants

HOW TO CARE FOR CUCUMBER PLANTS

Watering Cucumber Plants

Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow, but there’s one crucial factor for success: watering. If you’ve ever bitten into a bitter cucumber, inconsistent watering was likely the culprit.

After planting your cucumber seeds, consistent watering is key. Aim for daily or every other day watering to promote healthy germination and root growth. You’re looking for soil moisture on the level of a rung-out sponge—not too soggy, but not too dry. 

As your cucumber plants mature and start producing flowers and fruits, deep watering is a must to keep your plant happy and the fruit tasty. Focus on soaking the soil around the base of the plant (not the leaves) to avoid encouraging mildew. I like to use drip irrigation or oyas to help get water right at the cucumber’s root zone. 

During hot weather, keep a closer eye on the soil moisture and adjust watering frequency as needed. Remember, thirsty cucumbers can lead to bitter fruit, so don’t let them dry out completely!

Fertilizing Cucumber Plants

Cucumbers, like many fruiting plants, have different nutritional needs at different stages of growth. Let’s break it down:

Early Growth

When your cucumber plants are young and establishing themselves, the priority is nitrogen to help them develop strong leaves and stems. You can use a balanced fertilizer or one slightly higher in nitrogen during this time. My favorites are MicroLife Ultimate or Fox Farms All Purpose.

Flowering

Once your plants start producing flowers, it’s time to shift gears. Now, phosphorus is most important for strong fruit development. Look for a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus-to-nitrogen ratio, or switch to a fertilizer specifically formulated for flowering and fruiting plants. Stop adding extra nitrogen at this point, as you want the plant to focus on flowers and fruits, not more leaves. My favorite flowering and fruiting fertilizer is MicroLife Maximum Blooms

Something to keep in mind: consistent but moderate fertilization is better than overfeeding. Follow the directions on the package of your fertilizer of choice. Over-fertilizing can harm your plants and even affect the taste of your cucumbers.

Protecting Cucumber Plants from Pests

Cucumber plants are susceptible to a variety of pests, including aphids, cucumber beetles, whiteflies, and thrips. The good news is there are steps you can take to keep these pests at bay.

Start with Healthy Soil

The foundation of a healthy plant starts with healthy soil. Nutrient-rich soil promotes strong plant growth, which means your plants can better resist pest infestations. We’ve already talked about the ideal garden soil, but if you feel like your soil could be improved, you can always add organic compost to the base of your plants before planting and any time you see your plants struggling with pests.

Be Proactive in Your Garden

One of the most effective pest control strategies is simply being attentive to your plants. Inspect your cucumber plants regularly (every few days) to check for signs of pests. Early detection is key so you can take action before the pest population multiplies.

Natural Pest Control Methods

There are several natural methods you can use to control pests on your cucumber plants. A strong stream of water can physically knock off aphids, whiteflies, and thrips. Insecticidal soap is another option; it works by smothering the soft bodies of insects. For a more potent organic option, consider using Arber Bio Insecticide.

Protecting Cucumber Plants from Fungal Diseases

Cucumber plants, especially in humid climates, can be susceptible to powdery mildew. This fungal disease appears as white splotches on the upper surfaces of leaves. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent and control it without resorting to fungicides right away.

Growing Cucumbers in Raised Beds - Protecting Cucumber Plants from Fungal Diseases

Promote Airflow and Healthy Plants

Good air circulation around your cucumber plants helps discourage powdery mildew growth. To maintain good air flow, space your plants properly, remove any weeds, and support your plants with stakes or trellises as needed.  

Additionally, healthy plants are better equipped to fight off disease, so ensure your cucumbers are getting the nutrients they need.

Try Natural Options for Powdery Mildew

If you see signs of powdery mildew, you can try several natural methods to control it. A baking soda spray (1 tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap, 1 gallon water) can actually be quite effective. 

Another option is Arber Fungicide, a natural fungicide. Be sure to follow dilution and application instructions for any solution you choose.

Turn to Fungicides as a Last Resort

If preventative measures and natural treatments don’t resolve the issue, you may need to consider a fungicide. Opt for organic options like Captain Jack’s Copper Fungicide

CUCUMBER HARVEST GUIDE

Knowing when and how to harvest your cucumbers is key to enjoying them at their peak of texture and flavor. 

When to Harvest Cucumbers

A ripe cucumber should be firm to the touch with no soft spots. Gently squeeze the cucumber; it should give slightly but not yield to pressure.

Look for cucumbers that are a deep, vibrant green color. Avoid cucumbers with dull or pale green skin, as these are likely unripe. Some varieties may have naturally yellow or white skin when ripe, so be sure to check the specific variety you’re growing.

Growing Cucumbers in Raised Beds - When to Harvest Cucumbers

How Often Should You Harvest Cucumbers?

The key to a continuous cucumber harvest is to pick them regularly. Cucumbers are considered “prolific,” meaning they produce a lot of fruit throughout the growing season. By picking cucumbers frequently (every 1-2 days during peak season), you encourage the plant to continue flowering and producing more cucumbers. Leaving cucumbers on the vine for too long can signal to the plant to stop producing new fruit.

How to Harvest Cucumbers

Use sharp pruners or shears to cleanly cut the cucumber from the vine. A dull blade can damage the vine, potentially affecting future growth. Make your cut on the stem about an inch from where the cucumber joins the vine. Avoid pulling or twisting the cucumber off the vine, as this can damage the plant.

Raised bed gardening is a great way to get started, even for those of you with limited space or gardening experience. And a raised bed with a trellis and a vining cucumber variety is, to me, the perfect recipe for growing cucumbers. 

Raised beds really do create the best environment for these vegetables to thrive—proper drainage, more control over soil quality, easier pest control, even easier harvesting. I mean, the fruits (or should we say, vegetables) of your labor are right there for you to pick! 

If you need help designing and creating your own raised bed gardens, we would love to help! Book a garden design consultation, and we will help you get growing ASAP!

Happy planting!