Cucumbers :)

soilent_greenAugust 7, 2013

First bulk harvest of cucumbers, picked today. Been eating fresh cucumber salad for around two weeks now, finally went out to the trellis to do a thorough picking.

Many of the cucumbers in the crate are too large for my tastes so I will be composting them - seems I always procrastinate a bit regarding getting out there and getting that first picking completed. Too much other stuff going on right now anyway, I am not ready to process pickles. Plenty of small ones on the vines, bigger and better harvests coming very soon.


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That is a very great picture Tom. The box, the cukes, and the way you stacked them in there, give it a classic look. That should be the lead in picture in a gardening book for the cuke pages.

Ours are doing well also. We have never had very good luck canning pickles for long storage. Not crunchy enough. However, we are really enjoying our 1st batches of refrigerator pickles. Way less work and way better flavor and crunch than regular canning. At least for us anyway.

Extra brine can be made in one big batch and you can just do a couple of extra jars when you have the time. Makes it very easy. We are doing this with whole small ones, sliced medium size, and chips of the larger ones. I read that they only will last about a month in the jar, but being lazy, I'm OK with that. We have started giving many away as gifts as well.

Keep posting those great pictures.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Thanks for the compliments. Only thing is that I need to get a newer camera, the one I am using is quite obsolete and not very good quality. Had a decent one but last year I misplaced it outside somewhere - found it when pieces of it came shooting out of the mower deck. So far over the years I have "La Machined" one camera, one cellphone (popped off my belt while I was mowing), one empty beer bottle, several foam can huggers, one wire croquet hoop, several seed packets, a roll of twine (which was a nightmare to untangle from the deck), and several sunglasses. All due to tall grass because of too infrequent mowing, but mainly due to my occasional carelessness and/or forgetfulness.

The reason for the neat stacking in the crate is that I presort when I am out picking - eliminates a step and minimizes handling and banging around of the cucumbers. Any produce I harvest that might be preserved I treat with kid gloves.

I hope folks understand that I do not post such images to show off, I post to show possibilities (of course there is a little bit of gardener's pride as well). I like seeing and reading of peoples successes, and wish more folks would post such. The GW vegetable forum and others related can really get to be dreary reading during gardening season with people from all over the continent posting their problems and gardening woes, understandable as it is. That is why I poke around predominantly in the MN forum during summer.

What varieties are you growing? I do not experiment much with unusual varieties and I stopped growing salad cukes. I used to grow the classic "Straight Eight" but the last couple of years I have just grown pickling cucumbers because they work fine for fresh salad as well as their intended purpose. This year I grew three varieties. My standby variety is "Boston Pickling", very happy with this variety and have no negatives to say. Productive vines overflow the trellis. Variety "Homemade Pickles" is o.k. but not as productive as the former and the vines do not fill the height of the trellis. Good cucumbers, though. This year I also tried Burpee variety "Pickler Hybrid" and found it to be a major disappointment and a total waste of planting time and trellis space. Flavor is mediocre. I may just pull the plants. The variety verified my general dislike for modern hybrid vegetables. Next year I am going back to a full planting of the "Boston Pickling".

I too make refrigerator pickles, whole and thin slices/relish. I find the batches keep well longer than a month (usually still have some for Thanksgiving), but they do turn eventually. I also made sun pickles for the first time last year, which people really seemed to like. I have never cared for oversize pickles or seedy slices or spears, so I cull out any large cucumbers prior to processing.

The rubber pickle problem I have had in the past with my canned pickles I believe was resolved by the combination of two things:

1.) It is my belief that a wilted cucumber makes a rubber pickle. Process the same day and immediately after the cucumbers are picked. Do not pick during the hottest part of the day or when plants are stress-wilted. Shade the picked cucumbers while harvesting to keep them cool, and put them on ice as soon as they are brought in and until they are in the jars.

2.) Reduce the time in the water bath. I think too long in the water bath cooks the pickles, making them rubbery.

When I would offer homemade pickles to people in the past I would watch them grimace and attempt to politely squirm out of accepting any. Amazingly to me, my canned pickles were so popular last year amongst family and friends that I ran out in late winter. Of course people desired the precious jars full of baby dills - I will take the time to pick down to 1 1/2" long or so for just this purpose. Every jar has baby dills at the top to fill the voids but I did a few jars that were completely full of them - those jars were in high demand and it took a lot of effort for someone to pry those out of my possession. :)

The extra brine idea is a good one, never thought of doing that.

Raining here so I had some time to write. Guess that means I now have time to do a batch or two of refrigerator pickles!

Have a good day.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:39AM
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ForeverRecycleReuse(MN 4b)

Simply amazing! We picked our first cucumber yesterday and ate it raw. Can't wait for the others to get bigger. Production seems much slower than last year. Sure hope it kicks up a gear -- we can easily eat 4-6 raw cucumbers a day.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 1:23PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Picked three nice sized slicers yesterday. First of the season with lots more to come as the vine is smothered in bloom. We eat them fresh. My brother shares his pickled cucumbers with us.

These are from store bought starter plants as my seeds rotted with the constant spring rains. Didn't want to wait for another week to buy new seeds and wait for germination so bought one small pot and divided the multiple plants to make two hills. First time ever for starter cuck plants for me.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 11:10PM
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Second Harvest, August 13. A substantial blossom drop occurred which might be due to the unseasonably cool nights we have been experiencing. Hopefully the plants will produce enough cucumbers for canning. There are still plenty of blooms and little cucumbers setting on, but I might not be able to give as much away this year as I had intended.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:15AM
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