Strolling through the backyard garden, we notice a plant creeping along the back lattice. A green annual, originally found in Southeast Asia and India. Today, this popular plant is grown on continents all over the world.
The delicious fruit of our plant is commonly found on veggie platters, tossed in salad, or layered on a sandwich. For culinary purposes, we refer to this plant as a vegetable but it is technically a fruit.
It’s time to place your guess… Is that your final answer?
You’re correct, bravo!
Let’s hang out with the cucumbers for a bit.
The cucumber plant has two identities.
Vining – Fruit appears on a fast growing vine. Large leaves shade the fruit from the sun. Tendrils grab hold of a support structure. A vining cucumber is capable of producing an abundance of fruit during harvest season.
Bush – Smaller than its vining counterpart. They grow well in a pot or raised garden, ideal for someone who’s space is limited. The bush does not require a trellis or anything for support.
The cucumber is a great starter plant for any rookie green thumb, they are easy to grow from a seed. You can buy them already sprouted at the market and that will save you the tedious task of sowing seeds.
I prefer to grow my cucumbers from seed. We sow many different seeds in our small greenhouse, it makes a huge difference with our baby plants. We no longer worry about weather interfering with early growth stages. I would highly recommend getting one.
Once your seeds germinate, the soil must be kept moist, but well drained. I let the new sprouts grow a few inches before planting them in the garden. Find a spacious area that will get about 6 hours of sun per day.
Cucumbers grow best elevated off the ground. Place lattice, or fencing, next to your plant and allow it to grow along the side. I help guide the early tendrils to the fence to ensure a strong grasp. The vine will grow on the ground, but fruit production will not be as bountiful and cleanliness becomes an issue.
Careful when you water cucumbers. Try to avoid soaking the leaves. When they stay wet, they’re susceptible to rot or fungal growth. We have installed a drip irrigation system in our garden. It allows the soil to get wet while leaves remain dry, it works really well!
Be sure to collect cucumbers every few days during harvest season. This can last upwards of a month and a half. Your plant will stop producing fruit if left unattended. Don’t let cucumbers grow large or they turn bitter and derail the growth process.
Growing the largest cucumber is not the goal here. Use clippers or scissors when detaching your fruit. Pulling at the vine can harm the plant and hinder future production.
Cucumbers are highly nutritious. They have an amazing ability to hydrate. Made of over 90% water and loaded with electrolytes. Slices are a great post-workout snack.
Other health benefits include:
- Rich with antioxidants which helps protect against various disease. Every day free radicals try to make molecular changes to our body. These changes can lead to aging, heart disease or cancer. Free radicals are harmful molecules found in things such as unhealthy foods, smoke, or air pollution.
- Contain Vitamin A which keeps your sense of sight strong and promotes a healthy immune system.
- Contains vitamin K prevents excessive bleeding by clotting blood.
The cucumber has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Pickle facials are great for your skin. Many people place cucumber slices over their eyes to reduce swelling, inflammation or the bags under eyes.
As we bid farewell to the cucumber plant, we take a few fun facts with us.
Cucumbers are used to make pickles. A few specific cucumbers are best for this process. After they are picked they are soaked in a solution. The process is called pickling. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of pickles.
Cucumbers can erase ink or crayon. The waxy skin coating when pressed slowly against these marks will begin to fade them away.
June 14th is World Cucumber Day. A holiday observed by Hendrick’s Gin. I like to enjoy a gin and tonic with cucumbers every time this date rolls around.
See ya next time!
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