Growing Pickling Cucumbers – National, Chicago, & Boston Pickling Cucumbers

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Imagine growing your own pickles for delicious summer sandwiches and burgers! Growing pickling cucumbers gave me an extra awesome feeling of accomplishment in our 2020 and 2021 gardens.

Now we’re at it again!

I love to grow pickling cucumbers up trellises or even up sunflowers or popcorn plants as a sort of natural trellis. It keeps them off the ground and looks really cool, too!

Pickling Cucumbers growing in our 2022 garden
Pickling Cucumbers growing in our 2022 garden
Observe a female flower and a pickling cucumber ready to pick.

This year, I’ve planted cucumbers for pickling alongside lettuce, carrots, and snow peas, all in the same raised bed.

In my opinion, growing pickling cucumbers seems about the same as when you grow regular cukes.

If you are already comfortable growing those, get ready for even more fun!

What are the best cucumbers for pickling?

The most popular type of pickling cucumbers is likely National Pickling Cucumbers. Other favorites include Boston Pickling Cucumbers, Chicago Pickling Cucumbers, County Fair, and Little Leaf pickling cucumbers.

As another option, Burpee Pick-A-Bushel pickling cucumber seeds also received pretty good reviews on Amazon.

On the whole, pickling cucumbers are synonymous with Kirby cucumbers, a crunchy and crisp cucumber with bumpy skin, reaching only about 6 inches in length.

Types of Cucumbers for Pickling

Technically, you can pickle any kind of cucumber you wish to grow. For best results, though, gardeners often focus on growing pickling cucumbers cultivated specifically for this use.

Consider these popular pickling cucumbers to grow and enjoy:

Boston Pickling Cucumber

A beloved heirloom cuke introduced around 1880, Boston Pickling Cucumbers grow short and extra crisp at 3 to 7 inches long. Producing high yields of smooth green cucumbers, this plant takes 55 days to reach maturity.

These pickling cucumbers are resistant to scab and cucumber mosaic virus.

National Pickling Cucumber

Prolific and delicious, National Pickling Cucumbers are a favorite heirloom pickling cucumber. They grow to be about 5 to 6 inches, but they are also delicious at mini gherkin size (2 to 3 inches).

Tender, dark green skins feature black spines for an attractive pickle.

Perhaps the best hallmark of this pickling cucumber variety is that the ends are not tapered. This allows picklers to better fill the jars with as many delicious bites as possible.

National pickling cucumbers tend to be resistant to cucumber mosaic and scab, making them a fine choice for the backyard garden.

Chicago Pickling Cucumber

Around since 1888, Chicago Pickling Cucumbers originated in the Chicago area as you might expect. They mature in 55 days and feature thin skins, black spines, and excellent flavor as a pickling favorite.

Reaching 7 inches and still delicious, many gardeners pick them smaller as well. Chicago pickling cucumber plants are prolific and produce great yields.

Baker Creek is a notable seller of Chicago pickling cucumber seeds.

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Small pickling cucumber growing on its own.
Small pickling cucumber growing on its own.

Growing Pickling Cucumbers – Tips

Keep these helpful tips in mind when growing cucumbers for pickling.

Seed Depth

Plant pickling cucumber seeds about ½ inch deep.

Plant Spacing

Space out mature pickling cucumber plants by 18 to 36 inches apart.

Sun Requirements

Grow pickling cucumbers in full sun when possible.

Water Needs

Cucumbers in general require quite a bit of moisture in the soil and pickling cucumbers are no different. Aim for a minimum of one inch of water per week.

Soil Type

These cucumbers like fertile, well-draining soil. Sandy loam soil may be best, but be sure to keep soil watered evenly as needed for best results.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers planted outdoors in 2022.
Boston Pickling Cucumbers planted outdoors in 2022.

How to Grow Pickling Cucumbers from Seed

Just like regular cucumbers, it’s easy and pretty quick to grow these awesome crops in your backyard garden.

Follow these tips to plant seeds for pickling cucumbers.

  1. Make a small hole in the soil in a garden, seed tray, or nursery pot.
  2. Plant pickling cucumber seeds ½ inch deep and replace the soil.
  3. Water adequately to reach the seed.
  4. Mark your plants to keep track of them throughout the growing season.
  5. Check daily for moisture needs and signs of growth.

These tips on starting cucumbers from seed may be helpful as well!

You can also try transplanting pickling cucumber seedlings to the garden with a few easy tips!

By the way, if you are growing pickling cucumbers this year, be sure to try our super easy, no-fail trick for crisp, delicious deli style pickles! Just check out our post on dill substitutes and Claussen pickle copycat recipe instructions.

Now that I’ve gotten the hang of growing pickling cucumbers and regular cucumbers, I am on the hunt for mini cucumbers. Stay tuned!

Do you have any questions about growing pickling cucumbers or fun stories to share? Hit us up in the comments – we love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

11.11.22 – Updated with link to start cucumbers from seed.

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