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Cucumbers are one of the few vegetables that almost always benefit from planting seeds instead of transplants. Transplants are more vulnerable to disease and weather issues because they have been exposed to the elements before going into the ground.

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Cool soil slows down germination and makes it difficult for tender seedlings to adjust to the growing conditions of their new home in the garden or containers. Sowing cucumber seeds indoors gives you a jump start on the gardening season.

How to start cucumber seeds? Soaking the seeds in water before planting them helps them germinate faster. Once the seeds have germinated, they need warmth and light to grow strong. Using a paper towel with a damp side to hold the seeds helps conserve moisture and heat. It also helps reduce water evaporation and weed competition.

When planting cucumber seeds in the ground, make sure to wait until all frost danger has passed. Sow the seeds 1-2 cm (1/4-1/3in) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart. Cucumbers are vining plants, so make sure to provide support for the vines as they grow. Use a trellis or fence to keep the vines from overgrowing the area and to prevent them from falling over in windy weather.

Like all vegetable crops, cucumbers need good-quality soil to thrive. Adding organic compost to planting beds helps improve the structure of the soil, allowing it to drain better. In addition, adding a liquid fertilizer (like fish emulsion or soluble complete) at the time of planting and occasionally throughout the season (following label instructions) helps promote healthy growth.

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