If you are tight on space in your garden, or you want to create a different look for part of your gardening space, a vertical garden can be a useful way to accomplish both goals. Going vertical can allow your garden to grow up and above the space, so vine crops can use more of the area above the ground, rather than crawling outward.
It can also help you grow healthier plants, and keep you healthier at the same time by reducing back pain from needing to bend over to tend your garden. Here are tips on different ways to go vertical and plant cucumber varieties in a vertical garden in your backyard (or even on your balcony).
Ways to Go Vertical
To go vertical, you will need to have some sort of support for your vine plants to grow on. This could be a trellis, garden netting, fence, or even a ladder no longer in use. Get creative and make it your own! If your space is small and will be used for different (not vining) plants in other seasons, then consider a removable support, like a ladder, rather than a more permanent one.
The support should be at least 5 feet tall, with the lower edge (or first rung) about 6 inches above the soil.
Place this support in the back of the garden, so the vines and support itself do not shade the other areas of the garden, making it more difficult to grow other plants. Also be sure to select a spot that will get enough sunlight – but not too much. Keep in mind the light needs of the plant(s) you have selected.
Prepare the planting area. To do this, till the soil about 6-8 inches deep, and mix in a layer of compost or organic gardening mix as you go. Then, raise the planting bed about 2 inches above the garden level along the trellis, net, fence, or ladder. Note that if you don’t have a garden space (for example, only have a patio or balcony without any soil to plant in), you can plant cucumbers in large containers at least 12 inches deep, with the support in or behind the container.
Now you’re ready to plant! Spacing and depth will be determined by the plant varieties you select, and can be found on the seed packets.
Cucumber Varieties for Vertical Gardens
While there are many cucumber varieties, the best to use for your vertical garden are of the vining style, rather than a bush style. Slicing cucumbers are often more popular than pickling cucumbers to grow in vertical gardens.
- Dasher II: A common slicing cucumber, this is darker with a white interior. They are usually about 8-9 inches long, and take about 55 days to grow.
- Spacemaster: These are smaller than other cucumber options, and grow from short vines to about 7 inches in length. Because of their shorter vines, they would be great for very small or compact gardening spaces. They take about 60 days before harvest.
- Ashley: These crunchy cucumbers have a crisp flavor. This variety is great for people with more shade, as they do well in both sun and shade. They are also good for more humid areas, as they are resistant to downy mildew. Ashley cucumbers are ready for harvest in 65 days.
- Sweet Success: These are the longest of the varieties listed here, at 12-14 inches long. They are seedless, not bitter, and have a thin skin. Because of their size, they would be more challenging to grow in a container (or balcony) garden. They’ll be ready to be picked in about 54 days.
If you’re interested in pickling cucumbers, here are two vining types you can grow in your vertical garden.
- Regal: The traditional pickled cucumber, they grow similar to slicing cucumbers and are then brined. They are about 10 inches long, and take about 52 days to harvest.
- Gherkins: These are a very popular pickling cucumber, and are short (only about 1-2 inches long). They are sometimes known as cornichons, and are ready for harvest in about 50 days.
By allowing your cucumber vines to grow up, rather than out, you are better able to prevent damage from pests and overexposure to water, both of which can happen when the vines sit on the soil. Vertical gardening allows for you to find and remove the unhealthy plants, to keep your garden in top shape.
If you are interested in how to pick cucumber and what to do after you have picked them, you should check out our guide here.