Is there anything as cool as a cucumber?
Cucumbers are just happy plants to grow. They’re so enthusiastic about things. If you have a cool spell, they’re okay with that. The heat gets turned up, that’s good with them. Rainy spring? They love it.
Really the only thing they may, perhaps, look sideways at you about is if you fail to give them a drink. Cucumbers are lushes, they want a drink. No, they need a drink! But, even with the extreme drought we had last summer, the cucumbers were fine as long as I remembered to water them in the morning and not at night.
Originally from India, cucumbers are now grown on every continent, except Antarctica. (If you live in Antarctica and are growing cucumbers, please let me know) You know after I said that, I’ll bet the scientists in Antarctica do grow cucumbers. Hmmm (Great, now all I can think about is Antarctica)
One of the really cool things about cucumbers is that they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Generally they have three categories, slicing, burpless, and pickling. Although, just about any of them can be used raw for slices and most of them would work for pickles more or less. Burpless is a term used mostly by grocers and seed producers to describe cultivars that are relatively easier to digest, resulting in less unwanted gas.
For the most part, cucumbers are cylindrical. However, many of the varieties I grow, are almost perfectly round. There are long, skinny cucumbers usually the Asian varieties.
Cucumbers range from tiny, almost minuscule fruits to really large, approaching melon sized fruits. And, of course, every size in between. Cucumbers are pretty much a “one for everyone” kind of plant.
Cucumbers come in many different colors. Did you know that? White, brown, yellow, and, of course, green can be found in cucumber seeds.
I saw a post that said, “Cucumbers should be green, if they are any other color, throw them away, they are overripe.” Uh-oh, does this mean no more Lemon cucumbers? What about my Mini Whites and White Wonders? What will I do with my Crystal Apples and Dragon’s Eggs.
You get the point…if a cucumber is intended to be green and has turned yellow, it may be over ripe. (However, I probably would not throw it away, that’s just wasteful, compost it or give it to the goats at the very least.)
Cucumbers, while being relatively carefree and cheerful plants, do have a few “issues” that are usually easily dealt with if attended to promptly.
First off, control mildew and fungus. Water your plants in the early morning to give them the entire day to dry so they are not damp in the cool evenings. This also gives them strength to make it through a hot summer day. Think about it; you would want to be well watered if you had to stand outside in 90+ weather, I would think.
Don’t crowd your plants. Not only does this keep the leaves from drying completely before nightfall, it also allows infected plants to spread easily to their too close neighbor.
Remove any leaves that might be infected and discard or burn them. Never compost infected leaves, you’ll just carry over the problem to the next plant. Compost doesn’t get “hot” enough to kill most of the wilting fungus and mildews.
Other things to watch for, flea beetles don’t usually pose much damage threat, except that they spread mildew, eliminate these.
There is the dreaded, ugly, hideous cucumber beetle. In case you didn’t know, these horrid creatures wrecked my Lemon cukes last season. They are miserable. Nonexistent this year though. Thank you Neem. In case you don’t know what these monsters look like, here they are.
Not only do they eat your leaves, they spread disease. They’re just bad.
One thing I do have going for me where I live is that the parasitic wasps are pretty plentiful around these parts, so they help clean things up. If you don’t already, make these little guys your friends.
Now the fun part…all the great types of cucumbers. Yay!
From the Himalayan Mountains, the Sikkim Cucumber. They’re brown. Cool
Boothby’s Blonde. Very pretty yellow, creamy, sweet cucumber. Nice and big, makes good, fat pickles.
White wonder and Mini Whites, also great pickles. These I usually make into Dills or Garlic Dill. Yum!
Most of my cucumbers go to pickles, aside from the odd one, or seven used for salads. I did get a couple of new cucumber soup recipes that I’m going to try this year. I’m growing more cucumbers than I ever have, so, I’m sure that I’ll have enough for pickles and soup, (and the occasional salad).
The only green variety I’m growing is Fin De Meaux. These are adorable, I make cornichon pickles and sweet pickles with these. They also get to be relish, aren’t they lucky?
And in a last shall be first kind of way, my favorite, the Lemon Cucumber. Isn’t she purty?
Lemon cucumbers are not even remotely tart; although they look like they would slap a pucker on your pout don’t they? I love these bread and butter, sweet, dill, well, you get the picture. These are also the cucumbers that have a hard time actually getting in the kitchen, they’re like cherry tomatoes, they just disappear. = )
Two years ago, the Parsnip and I went through a spell of having lemon cucumbers and tomatoes for supper. I would cook supper for the kids, and the Snip and I would have these. Delicious! I might have to make that the plan this year as well!
So, I’ve told you a few things you may have already known about cucumbers. Here are a few things you may not have known.
Cucumbers are high (5% of your recommended daily dose) in Pantothenic Acid which is B5. Ladies may be aware of this B vitamin from your shampoo bottles. If your bottle says it has Panthenol, this is what it is talking about.
You may know that cucumber slices are good for relieving puffy eyes; but did you also know that they are very good at eradicating acne? Next time your teen is screeching for ProActive, make a cucumber facial instead. And, tell them to stop screeching, it’s very unbecoming.
Cucumbers have a good dose of Magnesium, about 4% of your RDA, and a decent amount of about dozen other vitamins and minerals.
Cucumbers are cool!
Have a paisley cucumber Thursday!~KeriAnne