How To Grow Cucumbers In Canada
Growing cucumbers in Canada is the perfect beginner to expert gardeners. This article is a complete guide on how to grow cucumbers in Canada and a cold climate. We will be looking at the more advanced method of starting them indoors and unique varieties to grow. For beginners we will be discussing the keys to success and the purpose for each variety.
If you are new to this blog my name is Ashley and I am a soil scientist located in a Canadian Zone 3 and a USDA Zone 4. I write articles and make YouTube videos all designed for Canadians and Cold Climate gardeners using science based methods. If you are looking for anything specific be sure to let me know in the comments down below.
Selecting A Cucumber Variety To Grow In Canada
There are three different types of cucumbers picking, slicing, & burpless/seedless. In some cases there have been cucumbers bred to be both burpless/seedless and pickling and/or slicing. It is important when choosing a cucumber you determine what you would like to do with the cucumber harvest. While you can raw eat pickling cucumbers, pickling slicing cucumbers can result in a mushy mess.
Do not worry about the trade names such as Early Russians, Long English, Super 8s, etc. The main focus should be finding a cucumber that suits your needs meaning, pickling vs. fresh eating and is under 70 days to harvest. From there you can choose your cucumber based on texture both inside and the outer layer.
Here are some examples of cucumbers that will work in a Canadian garden.
Pickling cucumbers to grow in Canada:
- Bush Pickles
- Cornetite Hybrid
- Cucumber Lemon
- Early Russian Cucumber (Can be both slicing and pickling)
- Cool Breeze
- Fancipak Hybrid
- Jackson Classic Hybrid
- National Pickling
- Pioneer Hybrid
Slicing cucumbers to grow in Canada:
- Long English
- Dasher II Hybrid
- Diva Hybrid
- Improved Long Green
- Marketmore 76
- Perseus Hybrid
Unique Cucumber Varieties
If you’re looking to plant some unique cucumber varieties and you are an expert partner check out this YouTube video I made a below. And this video I go through some really bizarre looking cucumbers that you can grow in Canada. Some of these include the Armenian cucumber and even some rare cucumbers from Africa.
Starting Cucumbers Indoors
Starting cucumbers indoors can be considered an advanced technique for gardening with cucumbers. The reason for this is because cucumbers do not transplant well outdoors. They are notorious for having very sensitive roots and therefore can have a dramatic response to transplanting. They are the poster child for transplant shock with their limp stems and leaves and potential demise.
If you’re choosing to start cucumbers indoors then you may want to look into using Pete based or newspaper based pots. These pods are biodegradable and therefore can be planted directly into a larger size pot or Outdoors. This means that the roots will not be fiddled with during the transplant process.
After you haven’t planted your cucumbers in about a greater whole pot and it is time to transplant them Outdoors you’ll want to take your time with the hardening off process. For more on the hardening off process be sure to check out this YouTube video or our gardening in Canada article talking about the entire process. This is important to help reduce transplant shock and potential death of the cucumber plants. One way to help reduce transplant shock with cucumbers outdoors is to use a fertilizer high in phosphorus. The nutrient phosphorus is used with root development and typically with any transplant shock the issue resides in the root area.
Starting Cucumbers Directly Outdoors
For a lot of beginners gardening in Canada the best method for growing cucumbers is to actually directly see them outdoors. This can be done approximately 2 weeks before your frost free date. If you don’t know when your frost free date starts and ends be sure to check out the Etsy templates To give you an idea of a start time based on your major city in Canada.
When you start your cucumber seeds outside you will want to ensure you place them approximately 1 to ½ inch deep in the soil. If you place them too close to the surface you will have less root support going forward and therefore may harm your chances of making a larger cucumber plant.
The spacing for a cucumber plant seed will depend on whether or not you’re allowing the cucumber plant to sprawl or go vertical on a trellis. You’re choosing to go vertical on a trellis you can plant your cucumber plants approximately 3 inches apart from one another. If you were wanting to allow your cucumber to sprawl consider planting your seeds approximately 6 inch apart from one another. Overcrowding can cause lower yields so be cautious of your spacing.
After you have your cucumbers spaced and seeded at the proper depth it is time to water. When watering seems you do not have to include any fertilizer. This is because there is no root formation on the cucumber plant yet meaning the fertilizer cannot be taken up. Simply water with a lukewarm water or a sun-warmed water. This will help ensure that our germination rates in a timely matter.
Growing cucumbers up trellis is a great space saver for small gardens. Using a trellis for cucumbers is a relatively easy task that can be done with both directly seeded cucumbers and transplants. The benefits to this is that harvesting will be easier and the Cucumber Harvest will be cleaner.
If you are choosing to Trellis your cucumbers then you will want to plant your transplant or seeds approximately two to three inches away from the base of the trellis. As the plants begin to grow in length and see first tendrils emerge you will want to train the cucumber to crawl up the trellis. After this point the tendrils will do most of the work for you however to protect against windy days you may want to add some extra support such as twist ties. Make sure that if you are using twist ties that you do not secure them too tightly; a loose fit is ideal.
Pruning cucumbers is completely unnecessary. If you choose to prune your cucumbers there is little to no benefit. While this is not the case for all garden plants such as tomatoes and peppers it is the case with the Cucumber family. It is in your best interest to allow the Cucumber to put on as much branching as it desires. The exception to this would be if your vine is headed in a direction that is not ideal for the landscape.
Pollinating cucumbers is another form of Maintenance that is not necessary for the Cucumber family. While there are male and female flowers the likelihood of the female flowers being pollinated is incredibly high. This is because things such as wind, insects, birds and even human interaction can all play a role in the pollination process. The only time you would need to consider pollinating a cucumber plant is if it is in an enclosed environment such as a greenhouse. For more on how to attract more pollinators check out this article.
Harvesting cucumbers should be done in a timely fashion. The more cucumbers you harvest the higher the likelihood is that you will continue the Harvest long into the future. Cucumbers respond best to early Harvest because it forces the plant to flower again and therefore result in a higher yield. Cucumbers are best harvested when they are young, this helps reduce that bitter or woody taste.
The best way to determine what length to harvest your cucumbers is based on the package you have. The back of the package will tell you the best length or thickness a cucumber should have before you harvest. As long as you follow these guidelines you will be set for your cucumber harvesting process.
There you have it, the complete guide to growing cucumbers in Canada. You are Canadian Gardener and you’re looking for the best results in your cucumber patch regardless of being a beginner or an expert and this is the article for you. Be sure to check out the rest of the gardening in Canada blog post for more science based information in the garden. Don’t forget to find us on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Tik-Tok. And let me know in the comments below what your favourite variety of cucumber is.