Friday, August 20, 2010

Cukes worth knowing

By now, although lemon cucumbers are still listed as specialties in some catalogs I get, I count them as "regular" cucumbers. They're all over the farmer's market in our town, so that makes them mainstream in my eyes. And I never managed to start a single Marketmore nor purchase one. I think I expected Denise to take care of that, then the pickling cucumber thing happened and it all got away from me.

However, two fun new cucumbers that hover on the edge of novelty did make it through the early spring, and deserve some mention here.

First is "Rocky," a fingering cucumber, perfect for kids, or so the Territorial catalog said. I have seen some of the other homeschooled kids munching on slender baby Persian-style cucumbers, and decided to give this one a try.

Getting them started was a bit of a stretch. Small, touchy, easily killed, I ended up starting them in two rounds. Ultimately, I only ended up with two plants, and those aren't what I'd call overly vigorous. In their defense, they were behind the jungle of pickling cucumbers until last week. I think they are at about 24" tall right now.


Apparently I'm picking them a tad late, since they are supposed to be best at 2-3" and I'm usually hitting 3-4". The little cucumber eater isn't complaining, though, as she yells, "Rockyyyy!" and eats them whenever I point them out.


Next year, more plants, more babying earlier, and more sun. Then I'll have enough to make the other kids eat them for snacks, too.

More on the novelty end are the Mexican Sour Gherkins I first heard about from Mr. H. They have been a lot of fun, and are the perfect treat to offer garden visitors. I say, "Would you like an elf watermelon?" and then explain that they taste like a slightly citrus cucumber before they bite them and are disappointed in not getting a sweet melon!

The vines are delicate in appearance, and I think the fruits are most beautiful when they're teensy:




They aren't enough to make a meal of, and I do have one experimental jar of them on the pickled shelf to try eventually, but six or eight plants, started in February, have kept up a small but steady stream of fun. And that seems like plenty to ask of any vegetable.

Have you tried any "novelty" vegetables? Did you like them?

13 comments:

Ribbit said...

A fingerling cucumber? How neat. I haven't heard of that before. Perhaps I need to branch out there, too....or at least guerilla garden in the vacant lot across the street.

Engineeredgarden said...

It's a tiny watefrmelon! Ha! I've never seen any of those varieties before.

Kristin said...

Thanks for the link to the magazine. I feel sheepish to admit that I'm happy with my thriving chard. I started asparagus (which is atypical in our area) and in 2 more years, I'll let you know if it produces anything. The fennel I planted was good, but there's only so much one can eat...

Heiko said...

Living in "backward" Italy anything slightly off the norm is exotic. People tend to grow no more than 4 varieties of tomato (round, beefsteak, plum, and cherry) all red for example. This year, with the help of Mr. H I've grown 10 varieties and particularly liked the orange Bursztyn and the Black Cherry. Served a multi-coloured tomato salad to our neighbours recently much to their astonishment.

Somebody sent me some lemon cucumber seeds from England, but unfortunately too late to plant for this year, so will look forward to it next year. Never even seen one of them.

The other novelty for us novelty starved people this year was a purple dwarf bean called Purple Queen. Now this turned out to be tastiest and most productive bean this year. To my slight disappointment though it turns to a normal green when cooked.

Oh and if you happen to have a few seeds of tha fairy watermelon, I'd like some...

Daphne said...

Those Mexican gherkins are so cute. I've heard of the Lemon Cucumber for years now, but I've been stuck in my ways and just eat my pickling cukes. So I've had one variety for years. I have fun with tomatoes though. I have 12 plants and 12 varieties.

GrafixMuse said...

I love learning about different varieties. The little watermelon looking cukes are cool!

Mr. H. said...

You will have to let me know how the pickled gherkins turn out, I had hoped to try it this year but mine are so far behind that I don't think they will produce much for us.

The grandson loves cucumbers so I might have to try growing those "Rocky" cucs next year. This year the only unusual curcubit we have is called Sikkim cucumber. They have a hard skin and are supposed to store very well...something that is important to us.

Erin said...

Oh, those are CUTE! while not a really a novelty around here, we grow peanuts! I think they are probably an oddity elsewhere but a huge cash crop here in our sandy hot soil. The kids are excited to make homemade peanut butter!

kitsapFG said...

I had a heck of a time this year with getting the cucumber patch established. I lost alot of the early plantings to root rot and die off - but I kept replanting and now I have a nice healthy cucumber bed. Now if only the weather would warm up so all the loads of fruit on it would mature!

Stefaneener said...

Ribbit, I can't believe you haven't yet colonized the vacant lot! You know me. . . I'd have started enough something to keep all year! There are other fingerling cuke varieties out there. This one is okay -- but I haven't tasted it! The kid eats them all.

EG, isn't it though? If you had grape tomatoes and tiny French beans, you could have a tiny little feast.

Kristin, I forgot about your asparagus! You'll have to keep me posted -- it's a long-term dream for me. I don't like chard as much as kale, too bad because it grows so well. Does yours overwinter?

Yeah, Heiko, as I was biting into some Indian food the other day I thought about what it would be like to live in a culture that eats. . . well, its food. Fascinating. I really should put together a seed pack for you. Today I'll work on it.

Daphne, the lemons are nice for me. Just the right size and when sliced across, they look like flowers. I'm a boring tomato grower, though.

GrafixMuse, sometimes the funny factor outweighs anything else.

Mr. H., I'm always trying to get thin-skinned ones. I don't like to peel them, you see, and I don't mind not having them around so I only eat them when they're out there usually.

Erin, glad you approve. I grew peanuts in Southern CA when I was a kid -- so much fun to see them reach out and burrow. Wonder if it's too cool here. We have sandy down flat, though.

thyme2garden said...

I've never seen either of these before, and they are totally fascinating! Elf watermelon, I love it! I'm still trying to learn to grow "normal" vegetables, but I will definitely have to venture out to these quaint varieties. I just got some lemon cucumber seeds to grow for next year, and I was all excited about growing an "unusual" cucumber until you bursted my bubble and said that they are "mainstream." Waaaah!

Maralyn45 said...

watermelons are really looking good...

Ottawa Gardener said...

I have had little luck with my mouse melons (aka sour gherkins). The first year they produced a couple and this year the vines didn't grow.

As for novelty cuke like things, I have tried the lemon and found it okay, and I am going to grow the unrelated Achocha