Easy to grow on hills, in rows, up trellises, or in containers, cucumbers have something for everyone. They offer a variety of sizes and colors, from tiny Gherkin-style ones to long, tasty slicers. Choose from slicing, pickling, seedless and thin-skinned, specialty types. Sliced, pickled, or pulled right off the vine, you'll enjoy the unmistakable flavor of cucumbers. Cucumbers are hot weather plants naturally, but they will grow in cooler climates. They hate cold soil and cold weather, so the soil should be at least 65 degrees, preferably 70 degrees, when planting. In warm parts of the country you can put seeds directly into the ground; in shorter-season areas (like the Northwest), you should start seedlings indoors 2-3 weeks before putting them out into the garden (which should be a week or two after the last spring frost). If you'll be transplanting seedlings rather than sowing directly into the garden remember that young cucumber plants transplant best. They resent having their roots disturbed, so avoid touching the roots when planting them into the garden. You will want to avoid cucumber beetle damage,as you can cover the plants with garden fabric (row cover). Do this at planting time, before the beetles arrive. Pin down the edges with Earth Staples or with boards or rocks. Since cucumbers are insect-pollinated, the plants must be uncovered once they start to bloom. Like many vegetables, the more cucumbers you pick, the more you get. Never let cucumbers get big and seedy or the plant will assume that its work is done. Although there are varieties listed as pickling cucumbers and others called slicers, either kind can be pickled or eaten fresh in salads. Be sure the soil stays consistently moist or your cucumbers will be tough and bitter.