A popular way to grow juicy, thriving cucumbers is by using a cucumber trellis to support the weight of both the vines and the fruit as they grow. Many gardeners find that their plants produce more this way compared to when they grow them on the ground. A trellis makes it easy to spot pests and diseases that could damage the plant. Come harvest time, you'll find fewer misshapen cucumbers. You'll also spend less time bending down to collect your harvest.
Leaves get plenty of sunshine on a trellis, which helps boost fruit production. The vines stay dry during watering, and this helps ward off diseases prompted by soggy foliage. Even when it rains, the cucumber plant dries quickly up off the wet ground. Growing on a trellis saves space because cucumbers love to spread out and can quickly take over a garden.
Place the cucumber trellis in a warm, bright spot that gets six to eight hours per day. This produce thrives in rich soil so, before planting, you may want to amend the area with some compost or manure. Many growers also add fertilizer to help boost production. As the plant grows, remove any dead or diseased leaves and vines regularly. You can also hand-pollinate if you're seeing lots of flowers but only a few cucumbers.
There are two main varieties of cucumber plants. Vining cucumbers are the variety that grows well on trellises, because they grow six feet or more in height. Their vines will also grow along a fence. Bush cucumbers only grow about three feet tall so they do not need extra support. They will trail a short distance but cannot be trained to climb.
There are many subtypes of vining plants but there are a few you may want to try growing on a trellis.
The ideal time to directly sow seeds is in late spring. Space the seeds six inches apart and then thin them to one foot apart once they start to grow. Seeds can be started indoors up to four weeks before the last frost. When transplanting, skip the thinning step and space the seedlings one foot apart. Install your trellises before you put seedlings or seeds into the ground to ensure you don't disturb the seeds or roots.
New growth needs to be trained to grow vertically, so you'll have to attach the new vines to the bottom of the trellis as soon they are long enough. Wrap the thin tendrils around the trellis supports as they grow. Do this carefully and gently to avoid damaging the vines. As the plant continues to spread, weave the vines throughout the trellis to help support the heavy fruit.
Cucumber plants need deep and regular watering — failure to do so results in bitter cucumbers. Mulching around the base of the plants helps the soil retain moisture. Always direct water to the base of the plant and away from the leaves so mildew and other diseases don't develop on over-moist leaves. Fertilizing at planting time can be followed by another round or two as the growth continues. Regularly inspecting plants and treating problems like powdery mildew and beetles will produce a healthier yield.
Metal wire trellises come in all shapes and sizes. Some are shaped like tunnels. Large tunnel trellises make a nice shady walkway once the vines grow up and around. You can also use sturdy metal cucumber cages to support two or three plants per cage. A-frame trellises are a popular choice because they're easy to set up. Quick-growing plants like greens can be planted in the center space to avoid wasting valuable garden real estate.
A string trellis is made by fastening rows of twine to wood or metal frames and allowing the vines to grow up the twine. Choose a strong, high-quality twine like jute so that it stays intact while it supports heavy cucumbers. A similar trellis uses netting like plastic or nylon instead. Netting trellises can be attached to frames, fences, and structures. You will want to make sure that the mesh material you choose allows you to reach your hand between the openings come harvest-time. This will also keep the cucumbers from getting stuck in the netting as they grow.
Lots of materials, such as old wire shelving and scrap wood, can be recycled to make cucumber trellises. Old fencing like chain link also works well, along with mattress springs and wheel spokes. Branches and twigs can be woven to create unique structures. Use lumber to construct the frames for string and netting trellises. All these options mean you can plan and customize your cucumber trellis to suit the size, layout, and aesthetic of your garden.