If you love pickles and cucumbers and want to try growing and making your own, this is actually an easier process than you think. Many people assume that you need an elaborate setup of trellises and extensive gardening skills to make this happen.
The truth is you can very easily take on this project with a small space. Allow us to introduce you to the bush cucumber.
This variety of bush cucumber doesn’t require a lot of space; it doesn’t have to grow upwards on a trellis and is a very hardy plant. In the following sections, we’ll talk about what this type of cucumber plant is, how you grow it, and some of the different information you need to know to help your plant flourish and thrive.
What Are Bush Cucumbers?
This variety of cucumbers is essentially a small version of the large cucumber. They don’t need a lot of space to grow, but they manage to produce just as much product as many of the larger plants do.
There are more than a dozen varieties of this cucumber plant, and many people gravitate towards this option for easy gardening.
An annual herbaceous plant that climbs and crawls as it grows, you’ll need rich, moist, and cool soil to promote growth. When you’re first planting your seeds or plant, you’ll want to make sure that the soil is fertilized using compost material.
After that, there isn’t much you’ll have to do to keep your plant alive.
What Do They Look Like?
This plant can grow up to 30 centimeters in length. The leaves of bush cucumbers feature three to five dark lobes with a gray-tinted underside. It is heart-shaped with a tapering point on the top of each one.
The leaf attaches to the stem in a spot opposite the tendrils.
The flowers are where the cucumbers will grow from, and they are yellow and funnel-shaped.
When the cucumbers grow, they will start out somewhat short and thick. Then, as they mature, they will become thinner and more prolonged, almost like a miniature version of the English cucumber variety.
There are more than one dozen different varieties of this cucumber. They consist of large bushes with long vines to dwarf bushes that produce the same amount of fruit as the bigger plants. We’ve also seen some hybrids showing up in different garden centers and nurseries across the U.S.
Some of the most common bush cucumber varieties include:
The Spacemaster cucumber plant is a dwarf-sized bush perfect for gardening in small locations. You can even hang Spacemaster in a basket when minimal ground space is available.
Uniform fruit is produced by the plant at a length of about eight inches.
Bush Champion Cucumber
The Bush Champion is also a trendy dwarf option that can produce impressively sized fruits between eight and 12 inches long. Even though the fruit size is large, a trellis or support system is unnecessary.
Salad Cucumbers (Bush Variety)
This is another small plant that produces an impressive amount of fruit. The cucumbers are only about seven or eight inches long; however, they are highly resistant to pests.
Bush Cucumbers vs. Vine Cucumbers
The bush variety of this cucumber consists of a freestanding bush that blooms and then produces its fruit.
Vine cucumber plants aren’t as bushy in size, so they require a trellis or support system to keep them neat. However, because bush cucumbers are freestanding, they can be grown in a pot or somewhere in your garden without needing much attention regarding their location.
In regard to the fruit that both of these plants produce, they each have cucumbers that are anywhere from six to 12 inches in length. They can grow throughout spring and summer, and they can be pickled as well as eaten raw.
The Size of Bush Cucumbers / How Big Do They Get?
This size of this very full dwarf cucumber bush can get up to about one or two feet tall. However, some smaller varieties will only grow 18- to 24-inch vines.
How to Grow Bush Cucumbers
If you’re starting your garden from seed, you’ll want to start by soaking the seeds in water for about five to ten hours.
In the meantime, prepare the garden by tilling the soil and adding compost material. You can also fill your pot with potting soil and compost mixture.
Plant your seeds six to 24 inches apart, depending on how much room you have to work with. Discard any seeds that look unhealthy or damaged.
Once your plant starts to grow, you’ll take care of it like any other cucumber plant.
It would be best if you water it every two to three days when the weather is warm and you notice that the soil is drying out.
You can choose to add fertilizer, and the best time to do this is when your plant starts to bloom early in the season. Keep an eye out for any signs of pest infestation or disease, and act accordingly to preserve your plant’s health.
What Temperature Can They Be Planted In?
The Bush Cucumber plant prefers very rich and moist soil that doesn’t get too warm. The best time to grow these plants is in the springtime when the ground temperature doesn’t get too hot. Once it is established, hotter conditions are tolerable.
Best Time of Year for Planting
You can plant your seeds indoors approximately three weeks before you’re going to move them outside. This gives you a head start on your gardening when the temperatures are still chilly.
Always wait until at least two weeks after the last frost date before taking your plants outside. Then, early spring is a good time of year to plant.
Growing from Seeds
You can choose to grow your cucumbers by purchasing an established plant, but you might be interested in starting them from seed.
First, you can check with a local garden shop in your area, but it’s straightforward to find different seed varieties online. Here are a few that we have found:
Growing in Pots
We’ve discussed that bush cucumbers don’t need much space to grow, but deciding between a small garden and pots can be difficult.
If you’re limited space and want to utilize a patio for gardening, you can stick with pots. The pot should be at least ten inches wide, with a minimum of ten inches in depth.
Plastic and ceramic pots are the best option for proper moisture retention.
The Spacing of Bush Variety Cucumbers
You’ll want to provide about two to three feet of space for your cucumber plant to grow. They should be spaced apart 10 to 12 inches if you’re planting in a garden with rows 18-24 inches apart.
Using the pot method, you’ll obviously have less space to work with. Depending on their size, try to grow one or two plants in a single pot.
Harvesting Your Cucumbers
Most cucumbers of this variety are ready to be picked when they are dark green and have firm fruit.
Don’t squeeze them too hard when you’re checking, or you could damage the fruit.
In general, the cucumbers should be about six to eight inches in length when it’s time to harvest them. This tends to be a couple of months after you’ve planted them.
Pickling Your Cucumbers
Once you’ve picked the fruit off your cucumber plant, you can start the process of pickling them. This is a great way to use a large amount of produce without anything going to waste.
After cleaning and trimming the ends of your cucumbers, you can choose to process them using the traditional method of pickling and canning. However, there is also a quick method that includes these steps:
1. Combine 2 cups of water with two tablespoons of kosher salt. Add to a saucepan and cook on medium to high heat.
2. Add vinegar, sugar, and pickling spices according to your recipe. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
3. Place your cucumbers into a jar and pour the heated brine mixture over them completely. Let cool before you cover the jar and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours.
These quick-pickled cucumbers should last about two weeks in the refrigerator.
What is causing my bush cucumbers to yellow?
Cucumbers of all varieties turn yellow when they are deficient in nitrogen. If you notice some of your bush leaves or fruit turning yellow, use a nitrogen-based fertilizer to add this nutrient back into the soil.
It’s best to catch this problem early on if at all possible.
Do bush cucumbers need trellis support?
While larger cucumber varieties require trellises for support and to keep vines growing apart, this type of cucumber bush does not possess the same need.
While you’re more than able to include a trellis in your pot or garden, it’s not required. The Burpless Bush variety would really be the only one that would require it, and that’s because its vines can grow up to two feet in length.