Friday, April 19, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Cucumber

    A tiny farm boy in faded overalls stands bare foot in the garden munching crunchy cucumbers straight from the vine. That's the image that immediately comes to mind when I think about cucumbers. My boy could eat his weight in cukes..and still does. These days he still creeps out to the vines to nibble and snatch the tender, tiny cukes before Mom can pick them for salads and pickles.
    In my garden the cucumbers are planted in plentiful rows supported by a calf panel trellis. Generally on the sunny side of the main rows, the cukes climb and bloom, attracting the bees and butterflies for pollination and beauty. Under neath the vines, a few leaf lettuce grow next to summer's basil and some marigolds on each end (for a bit of color).
   With their abundance, creamy cucumber salads grace our table and home canned pickles line our shelves. Year after year spicy dills, tangy bread and butters, and a few traditional crisps find their way to the canning shelves to be shared and enjoyed all summer long.
   Here in the south the cucumber season is often cut short by drought or pest. Cucumber beetles and leaf footed stink bugs love the plump crunchers, while powdery mildew and sun scorch tend to attack the leaves and kill off the vine. Pick them timely for crisp and tender fruits..early picking increases yield and prevents bitter taste.
The bare facts:
Direct seed cucumbers in well tilled soil under a trellis 12 to 14 inches apart
Thin if needed and water regularly.
Southern favorites:
Lil' Muncher
suyu long
orient express
burpless hybred

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