The two varieties of cucumber grown in home gardens are salad and pickling cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers have a thinner skin and are often shorter and thicker than salad varieties. These qualities make them well-suited to pickling, though many can also be used fresh. Growing pickling cucumbers in your garden allows you to make your own pickles at home. Cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable and must be planted in the garden after all frost danger is past in spring, when the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees F.
Lay a 4 to 6 inch layer of compost over the garden bed and till it in to a 10-inch depth prior to planting to improve drainage and soil quality. Choose a garden bed that receives full sunlight and is not prone to standing water.
Apply 3 lbs. of 5-10-10 fertilizer per every 100 square feet of cucumber bed. Till it into the soil just prior to planting.
Sow four seeds per every foot of garden row. Space the rows 2 ½ feet apart. Sow each seed to a ½-inch depth.
Water the bed as necessary to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Apply a 2-inch layer of bark or straw mulch around the plants once the seeds sprout to help retain soil moisture and prevent weeds. Continue to water the pickling cucumbers throughout the growing season, providing approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Thin the pickling cucumber plants to 12 inches apart once the seedlings are 5 inches tall. Pluck out the extra seedlings in each row and compost or dispose of them.
Fertilize the cucumbers a second time three weeks after planting. Work in 1 lb. of 33-0-0 analysis fertilizer per 100 foot row, applying the fertilizer to the soil about 6 inches away from the base of each plant.
Harvest the cucumbers once they are fully green and 4 to 6 inches long. Check the back of the seed packet for the optimum harvest time for the specific pickling variety. Cut the stem with a sharp knife 12 inches above where it connects to the cucumber.