Despite being big, creeping plants, cucumbers are well suited to growing on a balcony. Much like cucurbits, they can be grown vertically with ease.
Let’s go over what you need to know to grow cucumbers on a balcony.
Cucumbers are from the cucurbits family, which also includes zucchini, melons, and gourds. They form long, creeping vines that you can train up trellises, which is ideal if you don’t have much floor space.
They grow best in USDA Zones 4-12 and are a fan of warmer temperatures. You could grow them in cooler areas if you had a small greenhouse (such as this).
Like other cucurbits, cucumber seedlings hate being transplanted. As such, you either need to sow them directly into their forever pots or germinate the seeds in cardboard tubes.
Sunlight: Full sun or partial shade
Grow in pots: Yes – 5-gallon or larger
Grow indoors: No
Soil type: Well-draining
When to plant: March-June (germinate indoors if starting earlier)
As mentioned, cucumber seedlings don’t like being transplanted. To get around this, you can germinate them in cardboard tubes filled with soil. You can then plant the whole thing and let the card rot away.
Growing cucumbers is pretty easy. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Either germinate your seedlings indoors or start them outside once the weather is warmer.
2. Fill each container with soil, leaving an inch gap at the top.
3. Poke a small hole about an inch deep in the soil and add a few seeds.
4. Water well and wait a week or so for them to germinate.
5. Once the seedlings have their first proper leaves, remove the weakest looking ones from each pot.
6. As the seedlings grow, begin tying them loosely to the trellis.
7. The seed packet will tell you when they’re ready to harvest, as it depends on the variety.
Cucumber plants grow long vines, but it’s best to keep them under control. To do so, snip off side shoots to encourage the main vine to grow. It helps the plant concentrate its energy.
You need to keep the soil moist but not wet. This might mean watering them every day in warmer climates. Feed once every two weeks with all-purpose fertilizer. When the plants start flowering, switch to a low-nitrogen fertilizer instead.
Importantly, when watering, aim your watering can at the soil and avoid the plant. Cucumbers are prone to mildew and rot, which can happen if the plant gets wet.
You’ll need to pollinate the flowers yourself. Female flowers have a tiny cucumber behind them, whereas male flowers don’t. Simply shake the plant to distribute pollen.
Growing cucumbers can be a great project with kids because they’re surprisingly easy to care for. They’re ideal for balconies, too, as they’re perfectly suited to vertical growing.
So, grab yourself some seeds, set up your pots, and get growing cucumbers!