Can You Use Ericaceous Compost For Cucumbers?

Can You Use Ericaceous Compost for Cucumbers

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Ericaceous compost is a very useful compost when you’re growing decorative plants, many of which prefer acidic soil, but what about when you’re trying to grow vegetables?

When planting vegetables such as cucumbers, you want to use compost and fertilizer to help the produce grow big and juicy, whether you’re trying to make great salads or win a local gardening competition.

Regardless of your planting goals, ericaceous compost is not your best bet.

Cucumbers do not do well in ericaceous compost. Although cucumbers can grow well in soil that is slightly acidic, ericaceous compost is too acidic for them. Your cucumbers would still grow, but they wouldn’t thrive.

Here is everything you need to know about getting the most out of your cucumber plants, even if that means putting the ericaceous compost away.

What Is Ericaceous Compost?

Ericaceous compost is a compost famous for its highly acidic pH levels. This compost, made from loam-based soil and a variety of organic materials such as leaves and pine needles, has a very low pH and is used to plant ericaceous plants, or plants that need very acidic soil to grow, such as rhododendrons and heather.

Ericaceous compost has other qualities, such as high organic nutrient levels and well-draining, moisture-retaining molecules. These qualities make it attractive to gardeners, even when not growing ericaceous plants.

It’s no wonder many people think about growing their vegetables in nutrient-rich ericaceous compost.

Can You Use Ericaceous Compost for Cucumbers?

You technically can use ericaceous compost for cucumbers, but you probably shouldn’t. The pH of this compost is just too low for cucumbers. While cucumbers can grow in soil that is slightly acidic or slightly alkaline, they prefer mostly neutral soils.

Ericaceous compost is just too acidic for cucumbers and lowers the pH of the soil too much. If you already spread down ericaceous compost on your cucumber beds, don’t worry—acidic soils don’t usually kill off these hardy vegetables that are not too picky about where they grow.

However, the plants don’t do as well in ericaceous compost as they do with other fertilizers.

What to Do If You Already Put Ericaceous Compost on Your Cucumbers?

As mentioned above, you don’t have to worry if you have already spread ericaceous compost on your cucumber beds because it won’t kill the plants. However, it does mean you will have to work a little harder to help your cucumbers thrive in soil that is not their ideal pH level.

Cucumbers need lots of nutrients, and even though ericaceous compost has plenty of organic nutrients, those are usually not enough for these greedy vegetables.

When you plant the cucumber seeds, add a spoonful of fertilizer to each seed hill. After the seeds sprout, regularly add other compost and fertilizer to meet the nutritional needs of the cucumber.

Another problem you might run into when planting cucumbers in ericaceous compost is the water content. Cucumbers need soil that drains extremely well because the plant is prone to damage when it comes in contact with too much-standing water.

Another common cause of dying cucumbers is water coming in contact with their stems. 

To protect your cucumbers from water damage, make sure that you didn’t spread down too much ericaceous compost and that the soil can still drain properly. Water them regularly, but don’t water them so often that the roots become waterlogged.

What Fertilizers and Compost Can You Use with Cucumbers?

If cucumbers need lots of nutrients to thrive but do not do well with ericaceous compost, what alternatives do you have? Luckily, there are plenty of options for giving your cucumber plants the nutrients that they need without altering the pH of the soil beyond their comfort range.

Regular garden compost that you find in the store or mix on your own is a great option for preparing your vegetable beds. Garden compost has plenty of nutrients that enrich the soil, but unlike ericaceous compost, they do not alter the pH levels.

Plus, garden compost is easier to find and sometimes more affordable than ericaceous compost, so it is a much better alternative.

To enrich the soil even further, some gardeners recommend blood, fish, and bone fertilizer. This powdered fertilizer is made of pulverized blood and bone (Although it sounds disgusting, you won’t actually be handling any carcasses.).

The reason people recommend it for vegetables is that this fertilizer is rich in nitrogen, which helps plants grow. Spread it as you plant your cucumbers.

Once your cucumbers begin to flower, you can switch to regular feeds. Commonly recommended feeds are Miracle-Gro and Chempak High Nitrogen Feed.

If you prefer organic fertilizer, you can use nettle tea or horse manure. The important thing is to regularly feed and fertilize cucumbers as they grow so that you get large, juicy vegetables.

Some people recommend tomato feed for cucumbers, but it is not ideal for getting the most out of your cucumber plants because they have different nutritional needs from tomatoes. Tomatoes need feed that is rich in potash, while cucumbers need lots of nitrogen to grow.

What Can You Use Ericaceous Compost For?

You shouldn’t use ericaceous compost for cucumbers, but there are plenty of other plants in your garden that will thrive in it, such as:

  • Rhododendrons
  • Blueberries
  • Holly
  • Camellias
  • Heather

The most popular ericaceous plants are flowers and decorative shrubs, but some vegetables and food crops will also thrive in this compost. Potatoes do very well in ericaceous compost because the acidity makes them less vulnerable to potato scab, as do sweet potatoes and radishes.

Final Thoughts

You can grow cucumbers in ericaceous compost if that is what you have on hand because cucumbers are not very fussy about the pH of their soil.

However, you will not achieve the best results if you do so because cucumbers prefer less acidic soil.

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Ericaceous compost also does not have enough nutrients on its own for cucumbers, and you will need to put additional fertilizer down.


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