Friday, August 10, 2007

Cool As A Cucumber

How long did I sleep anyway? It feels like fall today. It's cool, in the mid 50's and very wet. I awoke to rain and it hasn't stopped raining all day it seems. My rain gauge so far has registered 1.5 inches. That's a lot of rain. It makes me sleepy. I've been trying to cut down on the caffeine and only have a cup of coffee in the morning. Today, I may have to give in and have a coke and a smile.

Another thing that is cool and wet, like this day, is the cucumber. You really haven't had a cucumber till you've eaten one that was cut from the vine that very day. No waxy film on the skin. Just a good crisp juicy cucumber. We eat them just about every evening as an after work snack. Cut into sticks and dipped in ranch dressing, is my favorite way, or sometimes with just a sprinkle of salt.

My cucumber bed is overflowing. I can't seem to keep up with the production. I way over planted this year thinking that nature (insects) would thin the seedlings for me, as they did last year. But, guess what? They all lived. I'm not very good with the thinning. I hate to pull out perfectly good seedlings. Especially when anything can happen along the way and then I might have to start from the beginning all over again. So, lets just say we have extra cukes and that's better than no cukes in my book.

Each year, I like to try something I haven't before. So I picked out this cool looking cucumber. I really didn't know exactly what it would look like when I planted the seed, but it sure does look like it's name, Richmond Green Apple. This variety comes from Australia. Doesn't it look like a perfect little apple? Half apple, half cucumber, but only in looks. Very cute. It fits neatly in the palm of my hand, so not too big. It tastes like a regular cucumber. Not the most productive however. This is the first I've harvested. That's okay with me, because, well, you know why.

Richmond Green Apple Cucumber sitting on a log.

I thought it might be neat to see what a pickle looks like before it gets picked and then pickled. See those prickly black things? Those are the spines. Some cucumber spines are black and some are white. They do stick you when you grab a cucumber, but they don't hurt much and don't make me itch or anything. They are easily removed from the cuke while I wash them off. I just rub vigorously under running water. If you don't remove the spines before storing in the refrigerator, they get kind of mushy and stick to the cucumber. Not a big deal, but I like to remove them. Another thing you'll notice in this picture is the dried up flower on the tip.

Burpee Pickler Cucumber. I use these to make pickles, but they taste great straight from the garden too.

Wanna see another neat cucumber? I thought so. Here is a Mexican Sour Gherkin. It's not really technically a cucumber, but more classified as a melon, a very tiny melon. Cucumber, melon, they're all in the same family anyway. This little guy is very small, even by cucumber standards. They are eaten whole with the skin on. I've heard reports that they are a bit sour and also a bit bitter. I guess taste is in the tongue of the taster. I haven't tasted any yet. Reason being that they are said to be ripe and ready for harvest, when they fall off the vine. I'm not exactly sure how this is going to work. I keep checking every day and I keep thinking they're going to get lost down there on the ground. I'm tempted to just pluck one and eat it and see. If it weren't raining, I just get up and go out and do it right now... maybe tomorrow.

Mexican Sour Gherkin. Now that's a cute one.

The birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees... How do we get cucumbers anyway? Well, there's the female flower and that looks like a baby cucumber with a bright yellow flower on the end. She sits there and waits.

Then there's a male flower. He just looks like a regular flower on a regular stem attached to the vine. He just sits there and waits. Then Mr. Bee comes along and transfers the pollen from the male flower to the female flower.

The bees are constantly buzzing around my cucumber bed. It's a cool place to hang out if you're a bee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely primer on cucumbers! I love your photographs, too.