Thursday, June 02, 2011

White Cucumbers

As my mother keeps mentioning, this is a 'practice' garden this year. Granted it is easy to forget that when I really *would* like to be eating most of my veggies and whatnot out of it this year - especially as I'm really too broke to be shopping. But it is a practice garden nonetheless.

And this excuse came in handy when I went to place seed orders last winter/early spring. I have multiple varieties of a bunch of stuff - all in the name of experimentation...

And so far the results have been interesting. Take, for example, the cucumbers.

I have 3 kinds of cucumbers, in 3 different beds. I have Japanese Long, De Bourbonne, and Ruby Wallace's Old Time White. Having grown up in Japan, The Japanese Long is the kind I tend to crave, and they don't really have a lot of seeds. They're also good for eating fresh OR pickled and are quite the not-so-little utilitarian cucumber. The De Bourbonnes are pickling cucumbers most famous for being made into cornichons... they're little itty bitty guys and they produce. And what sold me on the ones I'd never heard of before? The Ruby Wallace's? Merely the fact that they were a Carolina heirloom, and I like to try to grow regional heirlooms when I can. I should probably mention that all 3 seed types came from the same company and are open-pollinated.

And at first I was very discouraged by Ms Wallace's cukes. All 3 types were planted inside in flats at the same time, under the same lights, blah blah blah. They all germinated fine...and once they had about 2 or 3 true leaves, the French guys just took off, with the Japanese ones not far behind. The Carolinians struggled.

And then the move to outside happened. Kinda. Again, the French cukes TOOK OFF with the Japanese cukes not far behind. And the Carolinians just looked kind of sickly. I did lose one of the French cukes to wilt, but I replaced that patch of dirt and stuck a seed in there as it was still early in the season. The other two kept growing and growing and the Ruby Wallace cukes just sat there without really growing much at all. And then 2 of them died, for no apparent reason. No bugs, no bacterial wilt, no mildew - they just didn't want to be there I guess. So I replaced that bit of dirt and stuck some seeds in. They took forever to germinate, but in the end they did.

And then abut 2 weeks ago something weird happened. I went in to the garden one day and the Carolinians had seemingly taken off over night and had far outgrown the other two types. Not only that, but they were the first to flower, and the first to set fruit. And they are possibly some of the best cucumbers I've had.

Let me put that into context - I have Greek blood in me, I grew up eating a lot of middle eastern food, and I grew up in Japan. These are cucumber-heavy cultures. And I like cucumbers. And I am a cucumber snob. And these Carolina heirlooms are rocking my world.

Score yet another point for my new home state.

Shown:Ruby Wallace Old Time White (x3), Japanese Long (x1), Arugula and Calendula flowers.
I was gone for memorial day weekend and by the time I got back, they had gotten overripe - they should be white and picked before they turn yellow. Didn't seem to hurt them a bit, though.

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