So, my current favourite plant/s in my garden are my cucumbers. And yes, I do play favourites with my plants, based on their ability to grow, not succumb to downy (or as my husband puts it, Robert Downey Jr mildew) or powdery mildew (I’m looking at you, peas and broad beans), and their ability to produce edible things within a short timeframe! I know, I’m demanding, but hey, if you scratch my back (ie deliver on the above), I’ll scratch yours (ie I’ll remember to water and feed you and maybe even prune you).
Back to my cucumbers:
Now, one of the things that I think this blog will help me do is actually remember to use the app I downloaded (ABC Vegie Guide), which allows me to enter the date I plant things, and it will remind me when I should think about harvesting it (it will even put a reminder in your calendar) – I get so excited by my afternoon spent putting out compost, potting mix and then actually planting seeds, that I have been forgetting to actually record when I planted the seeds. The app is quite useful, although it does tend to have optimistic harvesting dates which don’t necessarily accord with the speed of my plant growth, depending on the weather and other conditions!
On the upside, it means I’m always amazed at the progress of my plants (because I’m not watching the clock and questioning why they’re not meeting their developmental targets – this must be how people feel with their children); on the downside, it means that I’m not learning as much as I could about how long things take to grow and the effects of various conditions etc on their performance. So, I promise I will record all planting dates from now on!
On a more positive note, because I have been so excited by my plants, I have been taking lots of photos of my garden, so I can say that this photo of the cucumber plants was taken on 30 November 2013, which was probably around 2-3 weeks after planting?
I realised a couple of weeks after this photo that the plants were outgrowing their pots, so I moved them into a larger one all of their own, and they were grateful. The plants continued to grow apace, big leaves and stems appearing, I was quite excited, flowers started to appear, and then I wondered where the cucumbers would actually grow (as I mentioned before, surprisingly little research occurs prior to planting – I’m getting better, I swear!) I Googled cucumber growing, and discovered that the plants were likely to have male and female flowers, the female flowers being the ones that would grow cucumbers after being pollinated by the male plants (with the addition of bees), and they would already have little cucumbers at their base! And lo and behold, there they were!
Now, while this was very exciting, alas inexplicably a couple of weeks later, right around the Christmas period, this particular cucumber plant got all emo and decided that life wasn’t worth living and completely shrivelled up, mini-cucumber included, despite its 4 friends (the other cucumber plants) all thriving in exactly the same pot – maybe some mean comments were made, I don’t know, I wasn’t there at all times, but it sadly did not survive.
Thankfully, my dismay was short-lived, as next time I looked, just after new year, there was this beauty hanging out!
An actual real live cucumber!! Bendy and all!! So, we let him grow for about another week, and then decided to eat him!! Sorry, this will be a blog in which devouring of cute little plants occurs regularly, I apologise in advance for the squeamish 😉
This is him just after being picked, and my desire to measure him (cms, not inches, it’s all about metric, people!)
And this is him contributing to a wonderful dinner – homemade sourdough, homemade hummous, bought capsicum (haven’t tried to grow those yet), baby spinach (also bought, I’ll tell more about my baby spinach woes in another post), the awesome cucumber and haloumi, the wonder cheese! Mmm-mmm, it was delicious!!
So thank you cucumber, you are very tasty!! And, I’m glad to see, the plants are continuing to give the love, a picture taken just this morning!! Woohoo!!
So, summary of cucumber experience so far – I heartily recommend cucumber plants, they seem to take about 2 months to grow in the sunny Sydney climate from seed to first harvest, the cucumbers are very cute to watch grow, and seem to grow from nothing to edible in about a week (especially in warm weather). The plants themselves are vine-like, and seem to enjoy growing up and out – I’ve staked them as I read that helped to keep the fruit off the ground and also find it, and they seem very happy about it, as the leaves provide shade for the growing fruit, and also seem to be offering protection from birds, which is a regular fear with our swooping magpies! The cucumbers like lots of sun and plenty of water, I water daily and also have them in a saucer so they can retain their own moisture and access it when they want. The leaves are a bit spiky feeling, especially when searching through for cucumbers!