The best type of soil for cucumbers is loose well draining sandy loam. The best fertilizer for cucumbers is an all purpose balanced fertilizer up to the time the cucumber plants flower and after that use a fertilizer with less nitrogen like a 1-2-2 ratio fertilizer.
Loamy soil is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt and sandy loam would be a mixture with a little heavier sand content. Loamy soil is a mixture that is ideal for plant growth because the mixture of different size particles allows roots to grow and air and water to move freely through it.
If soil has too much clay it can be compacted making it difficult for roots to spread and receive the water, nutrients, and oxygen they need. It can also drain poorly with some areas staying wet and some areas not getting water at all. If soil is too sandy it will drain too quickly and not hold water or nutrients making it difficult for the plant to get what it needs.
The fix for both of these soil types is the same, add organic material (compost). Adding compost and working it into the soil will make heavy soil looser and better draining and will make sandy soil drain slower and hold moisture and nutrients better.
To get access to large amounts of compost contact your local government. Most likely your city or one nearby has large compost piles of grass clippings and leaves somewhere.
If you have a field or very large garden consider growing a cover crop and to add organic material and nutrition to the soil. Compost will better the consistency of the soil and add nutrients.
Soil For Cucumbers In Containers Or Raised Beds
To make soil better add compost. Generally more mature and broken down compost is better. Compost mixed into whatever soil you have around should provide a good texture for the cucumber roots and other vegetable roots to grow into.
Miracle-Gro potting soil contains enough fertilizer to last plants for 6 months already mixed into it. Organic Plant Magic is my favorite organic soil and fertilizer brand and this potting soil from them also has enough nutrients to last a growing season.
Fox Farm offers very high quality potting soils commonly used in pot growing. Fox Farm Happy Frog Organics and Fox Farm Ocean Forest are both good. Both are organic. Happy Frog is slightly cheaper and Ocean Forest has a few more ingredients from water creatures and plants.
Fox Farm says that Happy Frog will supply nutrients for 1-2 weeks and Ocean Forest for 3-4 weeks and that you need to fertilizer after that.
They also sell fertilizer and say not to reuse potting soil so I think you could go for a lot longer without adding fertilizer. Right after planting plants are small and need only small amounts of nutrition.
Cucumber Fertilizer Recommendations
For fertilizing your cucumber patch you can use standard fertilizers or organic fertilizers or a combination of the two. The goal is to make sure the soil has all the macro and micro nutrients it needs to produce a bountiful harvest.
Macro-nutrients are listed on fertilizers in the form of three numbers N-P-K, Nitrogen – Phophorous – Potassium, the number listed is the percentage of that nutrient in the fertilizer.
Micro-nutrients are other minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Typically green vegetative growth is fueled by nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are used more for root and fruit growth.
A good guide for cucumbers is to give a well balanced fertilizer, 1:1:1, before planting, and then something with a ratio like 1:2:2 around flowering and fruiting time.
Farmers test their soil to get a more exact fertilizer mix for their crop. From what I’ve seen they go with a pretty standard amount of nitrogen and the phosphorous and potassium levels in the fertilizer can vary largely. This is a home test kit that will give you the PH and 13 nutrient levels in your soil.
Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 is a good all purpose water soluble fertilizer. Use the fertilizing schedule on the label but basically you use the fertilizer before planting and again when cucumbers first sprout and are 2-4 inches tall and then every two weeks after that.
I found two sources that mentioned extending the producing season for slicing cucumbers by applying kelp and sulfate of potash measuring 0-0-8 as a foliar spray at the rate of 2 quarts to 30 gallons of water. I don’t know if this is true.
Best Organic Fertilizer For Cucumbers
Organic Plant Magic is a great all purpose organic fertilizer, 6-5-5 +Ca , and 13 strains of beneficial bacteria. It’s water soluble and watered in once a week. Organic Plant Magic would be fine to use throughout the cucumber plants life. Garden-tone is another very popular organic fertilizer. The one linked is a 3-4-4.
Soil PH For Cucumbers
Cucumbers do well with a soil PH near neutral and slightly acidic, somewhere between 5.5-7. Soil PH is important because the plants roots require a certain PH range in order for them to be able to absorb nutrients.
Adjusting your soils PH level is a long process and a realistic goal is to move it 1 point in a year. If your soil is too acidic, ground limestone will make it more alkaline, and if it’s too alkaline ground sulfur will make it more acidic.
Applying ground limestone and sulfur is the commercial method and the fastest method of changing soil PH levels. There are also many organic materials that are slower acting but are longer lasting and alternatives to adjust soil PH.
Soil Preparation Before Planting Cucumbers
Pull weeds out of the area and discard them so they don’t come back. Work the soil about 12″ down by turning the soil over with a shovel. The point of this is to make sure there are no pockets of compacted soil and to allow better drainage and an easier time for roots to spread. Done in the early spring this can also help soil warm faster.
If you have any suggestions or thoughts about soil and fertilizers for cucumbers please comment below.