Getting Started With Cucumbers in Southern California's Inland Areas

Getting Started With Cucumbers in Southern California's Inland Areas

Cucumbers have a reputation for being easy to grow, but GardenZeus expert Darren Butler has found that this is not necessarily so in the warm Southern California inland areas. Cucumbers prefer a narrow temperature range of about 55° to 85°F for growing and fruiting, and there is no 60-day growing season in your zone that reliably accommodates this. See “Seasonal Care” in the GardenZeus section “Seasonal and Harvesting” for tips and detailed discussion about when to plant cucumbers.

It’s critical in your zone to plant early in the season, by late January with frost protection if possible, and choose varieties that tolerate greater temperature ranges. Be sure to select heat-tolerant varieties if planting after January.

When considering which cucumber varieties to grow, start by deciding between slicers for eating fresh or picklers, or choose variety(s) that that can be used for both. Bush plants are often highly productive proportionately in small growing spaces, but vining varieties usually produce a greater overall yield if you have the available space.

Cucumbers are among the most difficult vegetables to predict yield from number of plants, especially with challenging seasonal conditions in your zone. They are sensitive to soil fertility, watering, and other environmental conditions. The right number of plants one year may produce too few or too many cucumbers in a warmer or cooler year. Harvest period and yield also varies significantly among different varieties. Under ideal growing conditions, vigorous heirlooms and hybrids may produce dozens of fruits per plant, but 6 to 12 fruits per plant is a more reasonable expectation in your zone for most open-pollinated varieties.

In reasonably good soil, about 3 to 6 plants per person should produce enough slicers for ample fresh eating, with the assumption included that some plants will underperform due to heat, pests, or other stressors. Ideally, you should start planting in late January and stagger plantings about every 2 weeks through March.

For recommendations for cucumber varieties, see Cucumber Varieties for Southern California’s Inland Areas.

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