Cucumbers

It’s cucumber time again :

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Which means it’s time for bread & butter pickles. I’ve linked to Suburban Tomato‘s recipe here, because it’s the best one I’ve found. I do a couple of things differently: I fill the oven-heated jars with the cucumber/onion mix and pour the hot pickling liquid over, instead of adding the cucumbers to the pickling liquid on the stove and then bottling, and I add some finely sliced red capsicum for a bit of colour :

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These are the first three jars of the season. Looking at the developing fruits on my plants, it seems there will be many more to come!

Note in the photo of the cucumbers above there are 2 different varieties. The 4 on the left are the standard supermarket variety with warty/prickly skins. The 2 on the right are smooth-skinned and a nice regular shape. It’s a variety called Diva and I’ve been growing it for a few years now. The seed came from Phoenix Seeds in Tasmania. It’s unusual in that the flowers are said not to need a male pollinator—they set fruit on their own without it.

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about cucumber plants. Like all curcurbits they have male and female flowers, but with pumpkins and zucchinis the flowers seem to only last for a day, whether pollination happens or not, whereas those on cucumbers stay open for longer, probably the females, at least until the flower is pollinated. I never hand-pollinate cucumber flowers (the sexual bits are so tiny anyway), and I always seem to get lots of fruit. I hand pollinate pumpkins and zucchinis and sometimes the fruit develops and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know what pollinates cucumbers—I never see any bees at them; let’s face it, I hand pollinate because there are less bees around in my area than there used to be. What I do have is lots of ants and tiny native flying things—wasps or hoverflies or something. Because I’m in a temperate climate I don’t have the tiny stingless native bees; I have the larger blue-banded bee, but it’s becoming rarer to see one of those. (Note to self: I must really get to and make an insect hotel).

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11 Responses to “Cucumbers”

  1. kayepea Says:

    Great timing Bev – had just bought heaps of baby cucumbers on a half-price special (rabbits, possums and insects got all the fruit from our vegie garden!) and was looking for a good recipe SO on your say-so, will be using this one on most of my cukes! Will let you know what we think in a few weeks. Thanks 🙂

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Can’t remember what we ate when you were here…thought you might have had some of last year’s pickles; never mind—you will like them.

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  2. Deb McSephney Says:

    I’m feeling a little jealous. My cuke plants look good and lots of flowers but very few fruit. Love the look of your pickles.

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  3. narf77 Says:

    Lovely to see someone has cukes. I didn’t bother growing them this year but my cucamelons decided to regrow and I have something that looks suspiciously like a cuke growing under a huge perennial spinach plant. The garden is plodding along and the plastic ola are working a treat. Had a brilliant epiphany today about cheap wicking beds that will work a treat. Going to write a blog post about it and will link back to where it all started out, right here with suitable respect and kudos thrown your way 🙂

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      I didn’t grow cucamelons this year and last years didn’t come back. Will look forward to that wicked post 😉

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      • narf77 Says:

        The curious thing about the (2) cucamelons that either re-grew or grew from seed (I got thousands last year and towards the end stopped picking them as stridently) is that the plants are MUCH more hardy this year. They look more like regular cucumber plants than cucamelons (and I didn’t grow any cukes last year). I love a good experiment and the wicking beds are a seriously exciting proposition that Stevie-boy and I are going to be working on in the near future.

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        • foodnstuff Says:

          Whatever happened to that big wicking bed Steve was making for a friend (up on a balcony, from memory)? You were going to write a post about it. I never saw it.

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          • narf77 Says:

            I added the photos to a blog post. I think I did it back on my old blog?! You must have missed it. The beds are in use, working amazingly well and producing food for the lady who lives at the property. As they were constructed on the first floor they are her garden area and she has pots to supplement them. She loves it and it works well 🙂

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