Jul 252011

This summer, I planted a few herbs in my apartment’s shared backyard along with a baby cucumber.  The sage, basil, and chives are doing quite well despite the short hours of direct sunlight.  The cucumber plant started out three inches tall with two small leaves and has grown at astronomical rates.  Some days I would even find a tiny tendril in the morning and within just a few hours it had stretched across to the stake and twirled around in tight little spirals.  Our plant is covered in flowers, but many of them are male.

I didn’t know that cucumbers were diclinous plants.  Diclinous plants produce two different types of flowers within the same plant, and in the case of the cucumber, a disproportionate number of males.  For every ten to twenty male flowers the cucumber plant makes, one female flower will grow.  Because our plant is not too large, it only has two female flowers so far.  We’ve got lots of pollen, but few pistils, ovaries, and eggs to turn that pollen into a juicy cucumber.

It’s taken a couple months, but finally one of the female flowers’ ovaries have swollen into a full-grown fruit. Because this is a Bush Pickle variety of cucumber, it’s shape is short and chubby.  I wasn’t sure if it was ready for picking since it was a little wimpy on the end, but I figured it was quite thick on top already.

I picked him off the vine, rubbed off the tiny little spikes that grew on the cucumber bumps, nabbed his picture, and took a bite. Crunchy, mild, delicious.  Even if we only get a few more (despite the tag’s claim that this is a prolific plant), it was worth it.

Out on Long Island, there’s a rogue tomato plant that began growing on the side of the driveway at my parent’s house.  We figure it must be the offspring of a discarded sweet million tomato from last summer.  My folks already have two gigantic tomato plants of their own and they don’t need a third.   The new one has since been planted in its own pot, and it’s waiting for me to come pick it up.  I hear the valiant little plant is already flowering, and a few green tomatoes are peeking out under the leaves.  Hopefully he makes the trip into the city well and won’t mind the shade of our neighboring building.  It’s worth a try!

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