cucumbers & gherkins

How to Grow Gherkins

1975 was the first time I ever tasted a gherkin.
Sure, Mandolin knew what they were; but for me these tiny pickles were just the neatest thing I ever saw.

I was young, mind you, and have since seen many more neat things.

This also was the summer Mandolin and I started dating again, which eventually led to our wedding.
Years before that we were a bit of an on-and-off summer romance, mostly as gawky and awkward preteens.
Now at 19 and 20, things were serious.

Gherkins in their natural habitat.

Gherkins in their natural habitat.

Those memories came back when I first came across a seed packet from Seed Savers Exchange for West India Gherkin.
Cool… you can grow that?

So without any hesitation the seeds were in the online cart and headed our way.

Ready to pickle.

Ready to pickle.

They are bizarre looking fruits, and were not very prolific for us. These are in fact the first we have harvested.

The spines are a little too much to eat, but easily brushed off with a knife.

The flavor is the thing.
Its something of a step up from your typical cucumber, less resemblance to a melon I’d say.
Still sweet though, light and crispy.

The skins are thin, as you can see in the picture.
We’re going to hold these in the fridge in vinegar, until we have enough to pickle.

Can you recreate a 38 year old memory?
Yeah…

you can grow that

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Botanical name: Cucumis anguria
Common name: West India Gherkin, Burr Gherkin
Yield: Each seed will grow one plant, with multiple fruit. Not known to be very prolific.
Plant Height: Vining type, with vines easily growing 4 ft. and more.
Days to Maturity: 2 months after sprouting, ours took 3 months.
Storage: Eat fresh, dry or pickle.

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Categories: cucumbers & gherkins, How to Grow

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How To Save Cucumber Seeds

Recently we decided to save more of our seeds than we had in previous years, including one of our favorites- the heirloom Lemon Cucumber.

Cut the cuke, spread the seeds on a ceramic plate, walk away…
Right?

saving cucumber seeds

separating the good from the bad

Um, no. The next morning most of the seeds were stuck fast to the plates.
Rut Roh.

So we turned to the (somewhat) trusty internet and learned that cuke seeds should be treated the same as tomato seeds for saving.
Just in time, we were able to coax all the seeds into a jar and cover in water.
We loosely capped the jar and allowed for air flow over the course of the next week.

fermenting cucumber seeds

fermenting cucumber seeds

Sure enough most of the seeds fell to the bottom as the gelatinous (and sticky) substance that held them together fermented away. These are the usable seeds.

After removing the bad/floating seeds and draining the water off, the seeds were allowed to dry until crisp.

saving cucumber seeds

air dry

Of course, not wanting to lose one more seed than necessary, we returned the ‘floaters’ to the jar just in case.

saving cucumber seeds

second chances

We were also told to use this method for cucumbers’ relatives, the melons and squashes (not watermelon).
We’ll let you know.
Don’t just take our word for it.
How to Save Tomato Seeds
Our seeds, soon for sale here.

Categories: all about seeds, cucumbers & gherkins, How to Grow

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How To Grow – Cucumbers

lemon cucumber

A lemon cuke in its natural habitat.

Cucumbers are relatives of melons, and are an easy to grow veggie for the home gardener.
Maybe too easy.

cucumber seed varieties

by any other name

There are many varieties to choose from, such as mini-whites, lemon, Japanese burpless, as well as basic slicing and pickling cukes.

cucumber plants emerging from seeds

Here they come.

Cucumbers can be quite prolific, so think about how many plants to put in based on how you will use them.

a tower of cucumbers

Up they go.

But back to growing, just plant the seeds after danger of frost when the soil temperatures are warm (70 F or better) and let ‘em rip.
You can grow them up a trellis, up a structure or up strings; but you don’t have to. It does save space and helps prevent them from grabbing onto other veggies.

bugs pollinate cucumbers

There's a bug in my cuke flower.

Most cucumbers need bugs to pollinate them. If you don’t get a lot of cukes, this may be why.
Some varieties are ‘parthenocarpic’ and can do without pollinators, you may want to try one of those.

baby cucumbers

Aww... how sweet.

This year I got smart and planted a lot of flowers around my veggie garden- I saw more bees than I’ve seen in years.
Woohoo!

baby cucumber

And another.

Once your cucumbers start producing they kind of go mad; pick often and they’ll keep on coming.
Herein lies the down side of cucumbers, what to do with them?

Gazapacho soup, pickles and salads are the most obvious-here’s 2 of our recipes.
We also added some to a berry juice we canned, and have tossed a few in quesadillas when SaveTheWorld wasn’t looking.

“Mom- did you put cucumbers in this?”
Geez, she’s just like her Dad, tastes everything.

“I did, but I counteracted it with a little truffle oil”  In reality, I was hoping the oil would mask the taste of the cucumber.
I love them, she doesn’t.

A moment while she considers…
“I like it. I’m surprised, because I don’t like cucumbers; or at least, I didn’t.”

Score.

Botanical name: Cucumis sativus
Yield: Prolific.
Spacing: 2″ trellised
Days to maturity: About 7-8 weeks
Storage: Most commonly pickled, can also be dehydrates and powdered to flavor salad dressings and soups.

Categories: cucumbers & gherkins, How to Grow

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