As with all cucurbits, cucumbers do not like their roots disturbed during transplanting so if starting seeds indoors, use biodegradable pots. Seeds can be started inside or outside. Start seeds indoors 5/1 into a good starting mix (we recommend Vermont Compost’s Fort Light). Ideal temperature for germination: 85-95F (use heating mat). Cucumber seedlings are sensitive to damping off fungus so keep soil lightly moist but not too wet and use a fan (set to low) to provide air circulation. Days to germination: 4-10. Once 2 leaves appear, grow plants at 72F. Transplant outdoors (plant entire biodegradable pot into soil) around 6/1 into fertile soil with lots of compost or decomposed manure. Or direct sow seeds outdoors 6/1 (1/2” deep). Space plants 1 foot apart. Protect seedlings from cucumber beetles by covering seeds/seedlings with row cover fabric at planting and leave it on until plants are flowering. Protect plants from deer and groundhogs. For an extra boost, foliar feed young cucumber plants (1 week after transplanting) with fish/seaweed. Early Fortune cucumbers perform best in cool (less than 85 degree) weather.
Harvest cucumbers when they begin to attain full size but before they get so big that they start to lose their ridges. Cucs can always be harvested smaller, especially for pickling.
Cucumbers are insect pollinated and cross-pollinated. They will easily cross with any cucumber varieties within ½ mile. You can always save seed and see what you will get! Select only the best plants to save seed from. Allow cucumber fruit to mature fully (they will be large, hard, and yellow). Scoop out seed, rinse, and dry on a screen. Minimum population size: 6-25 plants (but you can save seed from fewer plants if seeds are for your own use).
Our Recommendations with Chicago Pickling Organic Cucumber