20 August 2011

The Tale of the Lemon Cucumber

I was so excited to plant cucumbers in our garden this year.  I enjoy cucumbers fresh, but I was most looking forward to the prospects of pickling.  Looked forward to harvesting a number of little green cucumbers and taking them straight to the pickle jar.  I bought a seed packet with a picture of a lovely green cucumber on the front and was ready to go!

One of the cucumber seeds I planted really took off, and I planted it in the corner of the garden, expecting it to grow along the ground.  After it was planted in the ground, the cucumber plant grew like crazy, and I routed it out of the garden to grow along the fence-line.  The vines grew and grew, and soon pretty little yellow flowers began to emerge throughout the lush green leaves. 

The flowers came and went without any cucumbers beginning to grow.  I inspected the plant every day for changes and still nothing new.  One afternoon after work, I was checked the plant and saw a little white orb by the base of the stem.  It didn't look like what I expected a cucumber to be, but I figured it was young and it would soon take the all too familiar shape I was looking for.

That remained to be the only cucumber on the plant for at least a week, and the little orb wasn't getting any longer, and it wasn't getting any greener.  In fact, it was getting rounder, and it was turning yellow.  I thought maybe this was just an unfortunate mutation since it was the first cucumber on the plant.  Soon, other little orbs began to take shape on the vines, and I knew something wasn't right.

One evening, Kevin came over and we showed him our cucumber plant.  He was also growing cucumbers in his garden, so we asked him if his started out in this peculiar way.  He informed us that his cucumbers started out looking like little cucumbers and just got bigger.  More confused than ever, Valerie retrieved the cucumber seed packet to see if it would offer any answers. 

We looked on the back of the packet for information, and found nothing noteworthy.  Then, we looked on the front.  Underneath the big bold "CUCUMBER" on the front of the packet was the word "Lemon" and it went on to describe it.  We had purchased and planted lemon cucumbers.  We found out they are called "lemon" not because of the taste, but because they are about the size and color of a lemon when ripe.

So, that first cucumber wasn't an unfortunate mutation at all, it looked just as it was supposed to look.  Realizing that the cucumber on the vine was ripe, we hurried outside to pick it.  We were excited to try a new variety of cucumber that we had never even heard of before.  Come to find out, it tastes exactly like a green cucumber.  It was a little strange.  

I was glad the mystery was solved, and the plant soon began to produce more cucumber than we could reasonably consume.  Plus, the yellow orbs became a nice conversation piece with guests and neighbors.  With a surplus on hand, I soon set my sights on making yellow pickles...

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