Quick-start Cucumber Plants




Introduction: Quick-start Cucumber Plants

About: I live on a small homestead in western New Mexico, in a small light-straw-clay house I built with much help from friends. My spare time is filled with house and land projects, writing fiction, gardening, singi…

Living up here at 5600 feet like I do I always feel I'm getting a late start on my garden. I am also partial to lemon cucumbers, which can be hard to find even as seeds, never mind as started plants. I've found that presprouting these tender-rooted plants gives them (and me) a fast start. I've read this works just as well for squash, pumpkins, and melons, none of which like being transplanted. And it's very, very easy.

Cucumber seeds germinate best at 90 degrees F, but are perfectly happy growing at 65 degrees F. All you need to do is give them these conditions and they'll get going a week or two faster than if you planted them in either a pot indoors or directly in your garden. Your germination rate will also be much better. I rarely find a seed dated for the current year that fails to sprout, and usually two or even three year old seeds will do fine.

All you need are:


-a paper towel

-a plastic bag

-a warm place

-a twist tie or string, or other way to hang the bag if required

Step 1: Beginning the Process

Soak a paper towel in water.

Fold it in half.

Place your seeds an inch or more apart on the paper towel. It's important to give their roots room to grow without tangling.

Carefully roll the paper towel up.

Place in the plastic bag and seal.

Step 2: Where to Put It?

Now you need a consistently warm spot to keep the plastic-encased seed bag. On top of an insulated water heater may work for you. Near a pilot light or an incandescent bulb (which will need to remain on) are other possibilities. A good rule of thumb is if it feels warm, not hot, to your hand--on a consistent basis!--it should do the trick. If you aren't sure, use a room thermometer to test it. More than 90 degrees F is too much, not to mention that you might set the whole shooting match on fire.

I hang mine above the back of my propane refrigerator (about 85 degrees F), which works very well.

If you've got a handy surface on which to lay the bag, go for it. Otherwise you may need to hang it as I do.

Step 3: Check It Every Day

Check the progress of your seeds every day. Nancy Bubel, in her book The New Seed-starters Handbook (highly recommended), says that nothing will happen for a few days, but that it's important to give your seeds a daily infusion of oxygen daily anyway. My "warm spot" must be warmer than hers, as my seeds generally sprout within a day or two at the most.

Step 4: And Plant!

Once your seeds have sprouted, you can plant them directly into your garden. You may find that the roots of some sprouts have grown into the paper towel. No worry! Carefully tear off the portion of towel containing the sprouted seed and plant paper and seed together. Make a hole a half-inch to an inch deep in your soil (already well amended with finished compost, of course!), put your sprout in, cover, and water it in well.

I generally see the first green leaves poking up in about a week. [And this year was no different. Two tiny green plants were showing 7 days after I put the seeds in the ground, though the overnight low their first night out was 32 degrees.]

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    A bucket would tend to limit how big they would grow, thus how much fruit they'd produce, but it should work. You could also use a coldframe or small hoop house to protect the plants in the early days. I think there are some good instructables on both these options.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    A BIG THANKS for this Idea! I live in Maine so I have a short growing season also. Wondering if they can be grown in buckets? As the first day of spring we got a foot of snow and are expecting more.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Job! I absolutely LOVE Cucumbers! My family does also. My 10 and 2 year old girls eat them sliced with lemon juice and salt just about everyday. Im in Texas on the Gulf Coast. (No Oil Spill Yet). So they grow like crazy here. Ive got one above Ground level garden going with Just Cucumbers Going. Later on today I will be adding a Critically important component to any type of Cucumber breed. Or vine growing type plant. A Square Wire Large Mesh Top cage Roof for the plants to grow through so the Fruits or Vege's don't lay on the ground at all. Before you put this caging over the top the plant should be large enough so you can feed the plants through the openings and they will start to spread rapidly. Also a critical thing with these type of plants is to pick the fruit as soon as it is ripe to your preference and remove all the ripe fruits. If you leave fruits on them, they are very stubborn they will start to grow less and less fruit. If you pick them all they will fruit more. I will try and post pics of mine later tonight without the wire cage and with after I attach it .
    I would love to have some of these seeds!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I use a couple of plastic bread trays wired together at the top to make an A-frame trellis. It's worked well for me for the past few years. I don't have much problem with fruits staying on the vine too long, as I eat 'em up as soon as they get to the turning-gold stage. Though lemon cukes almost never get bitter, I like them best before the seeds get large.
    (Good luck on that oil spill. I can hardly bear to hear about it.)