“Head in the sun, and feet in the shade!” is the rallying cry of most vigorous vines, and cucumbers are no exception.
Cucumbers are most successful when foliage shades the ground and vines scramble up toward the sun on a trellis designed to please their curling tendrils.
Simple trellis designs, such as teepees and slanted trellises, are perfect for exuberant cucumbers. Cucumber tendrils like the feel of rough twine, so any trellis that includes support from jute or other natural twine works best.
Cucumbers trained up a trellis tend to be very robust, so you will need only four to six plants to grow a lush, productive harvest. Remove weeds and spent plants from a sunny, well-drained site, and make a trellising plan before preparing planting holes. After the trellis is installed, make 8-inch-deep planting holes for cucumbers, enrich each one with a spadeful of compost and add one-half cup of a balanced, organic vegetable garden fertilizer.
Whether you start with seeds or seedlings, your cucumbers will soon be off and climbing.
Trellis Options for Cucumbers:
- A fence trellis, using an existing fence or weaving jute twine between posts or bamboo stakes, offers endless creative setups. Make sure the trellis is sturdy enough to support 5-foot tall vines without blocking sunlight, and that the openings are at least 4 inches wide for easy picking of fruits.
- A bamboo teepee trellis reinforced with horizontal lines tied between the stakes works great. A tripod design is naturally wind resistant because the weight of the growing vine pulls down toward the center of the trellis. Tie three 6-foot long bamboo stakes together at the top, and arrange them into a broad tripod. Then tie on three more stakes to form a circular teepee structure. Weave twine between the stakes every 6 inches to form strong horizontal support.
- A ladder-shaped folding trellis provides good support, whether you use a trellis made from rot-resistant cedar or use an old wooden ladder that can no longer support a person. Firmly stake in place as A-frame folding trellises are prone to toppling until weighted by vines. Tie twine in a series of horizontal lines to make the trellis even more pleasing to cucumbers.
- A V-shaped trellis works best if your garden is laid out in long rows. As the cucumber vines climb the trellis and set fruit, many of the fruits will hang from the outside of your tilted trellis, allowing for easier picking. On both sides of a row of cucumbers, install 5-foot tall metal fence posts spaced 3 feet apart. Angle posts slightly outward, forming a V shape. Tie twine horizontally between the posts every 4 to 5 inches.
Tip: When using metal fenceposts to make trellises or other garden structures, cover their tips with plastic safety caps to avoid scrapes.
- Cucumber seeds or seedlings
- Garden spade or shovel
- Organic vegetable garden fertilizer