Friday, August 7, 2009

Cucumbers fresh from the vine

When we lived in L.A., the only vegetable I grew was cucumber. Though it was many years ago, I still remember the plant slowing engulfing our tiny house, only to produce cucumbers that were far from remarkable. Everything seems to grow even bigger in our Houston garden than it did in L.A., so I was not about to plant cucumber vines here. I changed my mind when I found a bush-type cucumber, Bush Crop, at the nursery. Bush cucumbers still grow vines, but they are supposed to be fairly well-behaved and they do not need staking.

I planted the Bush Crop seedlings in mid-April, and they quickly turned into vines over 15 feet long and showed no signs of slowing down. It was not difficult to conclude that I had yet another plant that had been mis-labeled by the grower. The Mystery Tomato was a fortuitous purchase, and the cucumber plant has been as well. I e-mailed the nursery, and they guessed that the plants I purchased are Straight 8 or Marketmore. I looked up photos of both cucumbers on google, and I'm fairly certain that my plants are Straight 8.

I have been able to harvest a cucumber almost every day. They're not massive, but they are fresh and tasty. The vines quickly reached the top of their stakes, and then grew back down again. The advantage of staking is straight cucumbers, so I put in extra stakes to send the vines back up again. The set-up looks a bit bizarre, but it seems to be working with many new flowers and baby cukes on the tips of the vines.

We have lemon cucumbers started from Ferry-Morse seed back in May that are finally blooming. I'm really anxious to see and taste these unusual cucumbers. I also recently planted "Hybrid Soarer" seeds from Evergreen, and "Marketmore 76" from Park Seed. Despite my good luck so far, I've decided no more mystery plants for me. I'm sticking with my own seedlings. The plants seem to be growing quickly, and it will be interesting to conduct a taste test between all these cucumbers. I've got lots of stakes ready to keep them growing up (and back down again).

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