Cucumbers hail from India, so it should come as no surprise that they crave warmth. In fact, they need it at every step of the growth cycle, from germination to fruiting.
Choose a site with all-day sun, except in hot, dry regions, where cucumbers like some afternoon shade. Soil should have a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
Dig deeply and enrich the soil with plenty of compost and well-rotted manure.
Sow cucumber seeds directly into the ground at least two weeks after the last frost and when both soil and air temperatures average at least 65 degrees F. Expect germination in 3 to 10 days, depending on soil temperature. (The higher the temperature, the faster the seeds will sprout.) Set vining varieties 2 to 3 feet apart; bush types, 18 inches apart.
Spray the plants with fish emulsion fertilizer about four weeks after germination, or side-dress with compost.
Mulch the soil once the plants are established to control weeds and conserve moisture.
Provide at least an inch of water each week, especially when the plants are flowering and fruiting.
Pick cucumbers when they're still moderate-sized - between 3 and 4 inches for pickling varieties and 6 to 8 inches for slicers - otherwise they'll become seedy and bitter. Cukes mature at the speed of light, so check your plants daily.