will cukes survive 40 degree nights

njitgradMay 9, 2013

My cuke seedlings want to go in the ground ASAP (I seeded them too early, lesson learned). If I put them in tomorrow and we get those low 40s in the Northeast this coming Sunday night and Monday night, will they survive? They are rather large (6 weeks old) and I don't think they can wait another day. Need to plan better next year.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes they will with cover. Without cover they may do ok but better safe than sorry.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 4:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I think the two critical factors for young cucurbits are keeping the plants from freezing and maintaining adequate soil temperature.

It can freeze tender young melons at air temperatures as high as 37F with clear skies and no wind. With heavy clouds freezing will occur at about 32F.

I get really concerned if soil temperature drops below 60F for very long. That can cause the melons to damp off.

I got my melons through many nights below 32F this spring. They are on black weed barrier to warm soil. I covered them with clear poly on cold sunny days. For cold nights blankets helped maintain warm soil. I had the first watermelon fruit set before it dropped to 24F last week.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Unless you have a warmer soil you may see the plants yellow and stop growing for a while. Except for frost outside air temps are not quite so critical. I'll be picking a few tomorrow from plants I have in a greenhouse but I planted into the soil a few feet from the greenhouse side and I can tell you the plants well very tempermental for weeks before the soil warmed more.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:08PM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

A few weeks ago I left my cuke seedlings (2" tall) outside at night for the first time, thinking it wouldn't dip below mid 50's. Instead, it went down to 45ú, and in the morning they were very limp, bent completely over so that they formed an upside down "u". But the sun came out, and once they warmed up they perked right up. They're outside all the time now, and while the temperature usually drops no lower than 50ú, 40's aren't unusual, and the cukes no longer seem affected by it.

Next week I'll plant them in the garden, where occasional lows in the 40's can persist through June, so I'll put down some black plastic mulch. Black plastic mulch has made all the difference in my garden, and despite persistent low night temperatures, cucumbers, squashes and even melons grow well.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:24PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

My cukes that I started indoors then planted out didn't do crap. They flowered two weeks before I planted them and they just sat there and didn't do anything until I decided to start over and direct sow. I don't think I will ever start them indoors again. Lesson learned.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 12:45AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Cukes are more cold sensative than tomatoes. That is why the best method is to sow them direct in the garden. Then they will know what to do on their own. But after they germintae and there is sever cold night, I would protect them by any means possible.

When you plant a nursery raised cuke, very early, they will probably do nothing but just hang in there. Yet another thing about melons is that they are fast growers. They are not like tomatoes.
Right now, I have summer squash and cukes germinated outside. I planted some of the cukes more than 3 weeks ago but they didn't care, It was too early for them. So they waited for a proper condition to move.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 7:34AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

there are 2 separate issues here, hardening off and then the lows. Even if temps were perfect, you'd need to proceed with care - but to transplant them from indoors into this weather? Not going to work!

I have some direct seeded cukes that are only about to put out their frist true leaves, it was a gamble, I have them covered, and the next three nights are going to be 40, 36, 37. I don't have much hope, but we'll see.

Even if they make it, I'm going to direct seed the same kind next to them after the cold blows over, and I'd be the ones not stressed will produce first, even though they are 2-3 week behind.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 11:22AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Hi t-bird
I agree with what you said about cuke.

I do some calculated gambling in gardening often, knowing the risk and rewards. The risk sometime is losing few seed or sometime a seedling, but the reward of WINNING is much more satisfying, to me.

About your cold weather forecasts: WHY can,t you protect you cukes? It is easy, unless you have hills after hills of it. .
just inverting a half gallon empty plastic or clay ..container over each can protect them for all practical purposes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 2:59PM
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Well I planted them anyway (as well as my zuchinni, and yellow squash) because I seeded them way too early and didn't want to wait any longer for increased risk of transplant shock. Besides I have a backup batch just in case. I guess it was better to seed more than I knew that I would need after all.

My soil temp today in my raised beds was 66F and the air temp was approaching 80F with a moderate amount of humidity. Not bad considering the long-overdue rain in the Northeast most likely cooled the soil a few degrees.

Will report back on Tuesday with my results, fingers crossed.

BTW, if the forecast calls for cooler temps than low 40s what if the quickest way to cover them with something commonly found in a house? I posted two videos in another thread today ("will my veggies drown") so you can get an idea of my garden setup and the size of my seedlings (not even sure I can still call them that).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 3:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Old sheets, blanket, towels, t-shirts, straw, leaves, plastic tent if no leaves touch it, gallon milk jugs with the bottom cut out if plants are small, liter pop bottles, Reemay row covers, inverted flower pots, shredded newspaper, inverted cardboard boxes, brown paper grocery bags, etc.etc.etc.

There are literally 100's of household items that can be used to cover plants for protection.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 4:23PM
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I have tons of paper bags. Thanks for the tip, I would have never thought of that.

I'll cut the bags in a way that will create 4 flaps and then lay a rock on each flap to keep the wind from blowing the bags off.

The only question that remains...do I need to puncture any holes in the bags? Won't the seedlings suffocate unless I allow air in?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:21AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

seysonn - I guess I wasn't clear - I do have them covered. Anytime over nights were in the low 50's, I've been covering them overnight and I've added extra protection for this weather issue now.

I am doing everything I can to protect these babies! But - I am realistic on their chances.

I am only hoping my spinach is getting the "don't bolt yet" message! Always look on the bright side!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:39AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

njitgrad -
My sources say that cukes suffer below 60 degrees (66 for greenhouse varieties), I would advise covering if the low temp is low 50's or lower. I cover at about 55. Don't wait for 40 before you cover!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:43AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

What I have noticed about transplanted cucurbits is that until the roots are established [then you see growth], the plants are very delicate concerning both cold and wet soils.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:58AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

So far - my guys are alive! One more cold day/cold night and we should be clear....

I have homemade cloches with ventilation on them daytime, put an extra layer of plastic on night time, and last night covered the whole thing with very loose weave burlap....will do the same tonight.

Tuesday - in the 80's 8^O... will plant their twins nearby, and see which produces first! The varieties I have in are straight 8 and white mini...

Also - in containers for inside, I have diva and tasty jade. so battle of the network cukes, lol! Indoor vs outdoor, jade vs diva, nursed through cold vs seeded later, let the games begin!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:22AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

how are the OPs and everyone else cukes?

Mine are looking good this am, going back to single cover, maybe double up tonight with a low of 48, and then 80's for tuesday......

Hope everyone's plants are pulling through this weirdo weather...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:13AM
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OP here.

I think I'm in the clear. See pics below for how I protected my cukes and others these last three nights.

I stapled the 6 mil plastic sheeting into the bed frames and during the day I pulled some of the corners off to prevent getting stewed veggies.

At night I re-stapled to keep the cold air out.

My zuchinni plant actually liked the conditions under the plastic because when I pulled if off this morning, I saw my first flower bloom. Which actually answers another question from another thread I posted last week...the topic of whether or not my seedlings were too big to transplant.

This post was edited by njitgrad on Wed, May 15, 13 at 11:11

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 11:09AM
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