A versatile vegetable, cucumbers are grown for use sliced in salads or other recipes or to be pickled and canned for use in the colder winter months. Cucumbers are a warm-season plant, so they must be grown in the garden only after spring frost danger has passed. They begin producing a harvest about 60 days after sowing, and continue to produce until the weather begins to cool in fall. Starting the seeds indoors four weeks before planting outdoors allows you to plant earlier and begin harvesting earlier as well.
Fill individual peat pots with a moist potting mix. Set the pots in a tray so that any water draining from the pots is contained.
Sow two seeds per peat pot, planting them ½ inches deep. Water the pot until the potting mix is moist, then cover the pots with a plastic bag to retain this moisture during germination. Germination usually takes about seven days.
Remove the plastic bag once sprouts appear and move the cucumber seedlings to a warm room near a window that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day. Water the soil when the surface begins to feel dry, usually once every three to five days.
Thin the seedlings to one per pot once they are a week old. Cut the smaller or weaker seedlings off at the soil surface, leaving the healthier seedling in place. Both seeds might not germinate in all pots.
Set the pots outside in a protected area one week before transplanting to the garden. Leave them outside during the daytime and bring them inside at night. Gradually move them into direct sunlight over the course of the week, allowing them to adjust to outdoor conditions before transplanting.
Prepare a well-drained, full sun garden bed for the cucumbers. Lay a 2 inch layer of compost in the bed and till in to the top 6 inches of soil. Apply 5-10-10 analysis fertilizer, following the recommended application rate on the label, to the entire bed.
Tear the rim off the peat pot. Plant the pot and cucumber plant so the top of the pot sits just beneath the soil surface. Space plants 3 feet apart in rows that are 5 feet apart.
Water the cucumbers once a week, increasing to two times per week during hot, dry periods. Water until the top 6 inches of soil feels moist when you stick your finger into it. Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch around the cucumber plants to help preserve the moisture in the soil between waterings.
Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at the label recommended rate once the cucumbers begin setting blossoms. Work the fertilizer into the soil 6 inches away from the stem of each plant. Fertilize a second time with the same fertilizer at the same rate three weeks later.