Third cucumber seedling dies.... What did they teach me??

saoodhashimOctober 17, 2013

I know you all have been saying that cucumbers are not transplant friendly, but I still went ahead with indoor starting and had three seeds germinated in a 4" pot. One died earlier after showing its first true leaf (that I discussed in another thread the link of which is provided below). The other two also died in the same pot. These two however, fell over - their stem became weak and it fell to the ground. The pic is included.

I don't know why this happened. This all happened even before I had done any sort of effort to remove them from the soil for transplanting. They had about 2-3 hours of morning sun and then had around 12 hours of 6500K florescent CFL kept at a distance of 2-3 inches above them. Watering was also done when required.

What can I learn from it?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cucumber seedlings.

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That seedling got way too top-heavy if that's a 4" pot. It doesn't look like a dampening off issue.

Basically, a lack of direct quality light and keeping the indoor bulb 2-3" away rather than 1/2-1" away caused it to "stalk" tall and fall over. Technically, they're still healthy, but they need to be planted out if they're to be saved...they're most likely not going to "perk up" and start growing under artificial light at this point.

They do much better direct-sowed, though. most vining plants...aren't as good with strong upright growth early on compared to other plants without a quality light source. A lot of plants can deal with getting "leggy" and stalking, but cucumbers don't deal very well with it early in their growth.

Also, in your area you might want to look into "Armenian Cucumbers"/"Yard-Long Cucumbers"/"Snake Cucumbers" for the hotter parts of the year...which are really a type of melon...but can be used like a cucumber for everything but pickling (though some do pickle them). They deal extremely well with high heat and intense full sun.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 4:44

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:39AM
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Thanks NC-CRN

Yes, I got those Armenian cucumbers and have planted them. The seeds have germinated and are growing good under very close lights. I think the temperatures are reducing over here and I will quickly transplant those in bigger pots right away so that I dont need to transplant them when the root structure gets bigger and tangling.

Unfortunately for the cucumber seedling, I took it out of the pot thinking that it has died, so that I could check its root length. The stem is like 2 inches tall, but the root was not more than 3/4th inches. Is that normal for cucumbers?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 6:58AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The potting medium might be a problem. It looks fine-textured, almost dusty. Were you able to water properly....deeply......and did the containers drain swiftly?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 7:31AM
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IâÂÂve heard that cucumbers donâÂÂt transplant very well myself. But I had the space and decided to give it a shot. I had Market More 76, Burpee Burpless, Diva, and Spacemaster. I started them in 4â pots about 3-4 weeks before the last frost. They did even better than the ones I direct sowed. I think this is partially due to the ones transplanted started to shade out the direct sowed. I was planting them about a foot apart and training them up a 6 foot trellis.

I grew mine in the Basement with only artificial light. 6500K 48â florescent bulbs. I had the lights only about ü inch from the tops, and left them on 16hrs a day.

It looks to me like your problem is coming from insufficient light. Florescent bulbs to tend to drop in lumens over time. If the bulbs are old I would replace them. But otherwise it seems like what you are doing should work very well.

Best of Luck!!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:02PM
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Thanks Tool Geeks.

Its was good to to know that you grew them inside and then transplanted outside. Now I have at least one positive review about transplanting :)

How did you plant them inside. I mean how many seedlings were in one 4" pot. If it were more than one, how far spaced were they and what precautions one can take when transplanting small cucumber seedlings (or for that matter any other seedling) which are placed close together in one 4" small pot? Is it worth the risk to use all those seedlings ad place them in their individual containers or just thin out all keeping only the strongest?

Also, what could happen if there are 3 cucumber (or tomato or pepper) plants growing in one 5 gallon container and planted very close to each other?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:01AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Also, what could happen if there are 3 cucumber (or tomato or pepper) plants growing in one 5 gallon container and planted very close to each other?
They will compete for the limited space for roots and nutrients.
As a result they will produce much less fruits, smaller fruits and will become dwarf like plants.
Container growing is a more challenging task than growing in the ground.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:08AM
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For starting my seeds inside it depends a little bit upon what seeds IâÂÂm starting. For cucumbers IâÂÂll put 2 seeds per pot, I have always had a very good germination rate with cucumbers, and I will thin the smaller of the two.

I have also started seeds cucumber seeds in 2â pots, when they each form at least one good true leaf IâÂÂll dump the pot, pull them apart and pot them on into bigger containers.

Under the lights IâÂÂll pack them really close, with the pots touching each other. This will works pretty good for me for about a month, then they start to get bigger and are competing with each other for the light, so I just move them a little farther apart. If the soil is warm enough outside and no expected frost IâÂÂll just plant them out.

As far as precautions, itâÂÂs best to have everything ready before you start. Get your pots, soil, and tags all ready before starting so everything is in arms reach(probably not necessary, but it makes it more enjoyable for me). Then just be slow and gentle. Try to hold the top of plant by a leaf and give some support under the root ball. If you break leaf or a few small roots itâÂÂs not that big of an issue they will grow new ones. But if you break a stem or a large chunk of root youâÂÂre probably better off starting over. Also, the less you can transplant something the better. IâÂÂve never encountered a plant that didnâÂÂt go through a little bit of shock when it was transplanted.

For containers, IâÂÂve had mixed success. Tomatoes and cucumbers are large plants, and I have never experimented with growing more than one in a 5 gal pot. I donâÂÂt see why you couldnâÂÂt, it seems as though fertilizing and watering would need to happen more frequently.

I didnâÂÂt have much success with cucumbers in 5gal pots, grown outside. They really like constant moisture, and cool roots. I think the black pots I grew them in got too warm in the sun, and even though at some points I was watering twice a day, the pots still dried out.

As for tomatoes, great success in 3-5 gal pots. Whether IâÂÂve trained them cordon, or just letting them sprawl they just do really well for me.

I would say if you have the space experiment. Try with only one in a pot, then try with 3 in a pot. Just remember these are really big plants, my cukes made it all the way up my 6 foot trellis then all the way back down and then half way back up. And my Belgium Giant grown in a 5 gal pot trained similar to an espalier is about 10-11 foot tall.

They best thing you can do in gardening is gain experience. Not only what the plants will do, but what works for you. IâÂÂve had friends grow excellent plants and IâÂÂve tried to copy what they did and didnâÂÂt get the same result. I donâÂÂt have a green thumb, IâÂÂve just killed enough plants I know what not to do anymore.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Thanks Seysonn.

As you know that I have to transplant the cucumber seedlings (3 in one pot), what is the best I should do? Thin out two of them? or try to prick out each of those for individual containers which has a increased chance that it might disturb their roots

I have a total of two more pots each with 3 seedlings (actually they are the Armenian cucumbers).

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:51AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Usually cucumbers are planted in clumps of two , sometimes three per hill in the garden. I prefer TWO. But never ONE,
I usually plant 4 or five seeds together and after the have sets of true leave I keep two and pinch the rest. The reason for this is that they push the soil away and come up better. A single seed might just struggle to do by itself. It depends how the soil is. I seed directly in the garden. If I decide to buy seedlings I would choose the smallest and shortest and more green ones. Never leggy ones that look pale. I transplant them deep and fill the soil aound them up to the lowest leaves. And later I hill them even more.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 9:33PM
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Thanks Tool Geek once again for the detailed explanation

1/ When you say,
"I have also started seeds cucumber seeds in 2â pots, when they each form at least one good true leaf IâÂÂll dump the pot, pull them apart and pot them on into bigger containers."

You mean that you put 2 seeds in one 2" pot and then later pot each of those seedlings in a separate 4" (or bigger) individual pot without thinning out one of them?

Did I get that right.

2/ Also for the container cucumber, you said you sometimes watered them twice a day and still found they dried out. As you know I live in a very hot climate, these days the temps reach comfortably above 95F at or around noon. I had over watered one tomato and pepper plant in my peat based potting soil and believe me this was like 10 days back. I still have not watered them again and I can still find moisture. Was it that your potting soil was not so water retentive or is it that when cucumbers get big they demand a lot more moisture than tomato and if that is a case a more water retentive soil will be advisable?

3/ One last thing - what are the signs that the plant is experiencing transplant shock? How can you tell that?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:14PM
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1/ that's right. 2 seeds in 2" pots. Then gently tease them apart and pot them up.
2/ they do get very big. And like a lot of water. Here it gets into the 100's and is quite dry mid season. I did use a peat based compost, and would water when I stuck my finger in the soil 1" and it was dry. And would water until it was draining from the bottom.
3/ transplant shock can be as little as the plant just seems to slow down growth to wilting disastrously. Don't worry about it too much, just keep them watered and wait, almost always they will pull through. And the younger the plant the better it will transplant.

I'm not trying to discourage on growing cukes in containers. I did get fruit, just not nearly as much as in ground cukes. And it was more effort. If I were to try it again I would try to keep the pot cooler by keeping it shaded, and maybe adding some mulch. Straw or leaf mold.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 9:57AM
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veggiecanner(Id 5/6)

The olnly time I get a cucumber crop I straight seed them. Starting them in pots I am lucky if I get 1 fruit per plant.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 1:38PM
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