Sunday, June 6, 2010
Cuke Cuke Ca-Chew
The searching tendrils that the plant sends forth before it ventures any further growth has got to be one of the more ingenious in the plant world. A delicate finger reaches out tentatively for the next rung on the tomato cage. It grows randomly, blindly searching for something to grasp onto. I help it by gently nudging it toward the green cage where it wraps its tiny tendril lasso-style around the rungs.
I've never grown cukes before, but I feel a genetic closeness to this awesome vegetable. I can almost smell my childhood in a cuke. It's cool, soft flesh and prickly parts take me back to my grandparents' farm and the sweet green cukes that my grandma pickled in jars with dill and vinegar and stored on wooden racks in the cellar is one of my most vivid childhood memories. Grandma and I would labor in the kitchen side by side making pickles. It was my job to label and date the jars, so that years later I would come back to her house and pull those dusty jars out of the basement, bearing my little girl scrawls.
My cukes are salad bush hybrids. They are supposedly perfect for small gardens and indeed, they seem to know their place in my tiny vegetable plot. I have two plants set side by side. Adjacent to these I popped in radish seeds, because I'd read that the radish guards against the plant's enemy, the cucumber beetle.
This evening after a particularly violent thunderstorm birthed a cool breeze in my garden, I went out to study my cucumber plants. And between the time that I took this picture yesterday and today, already the plants seem to have grown another level of infrastructure. There's a rosebud structure forming at the top of the leaves and a few more yellow blossoms have opened. How is it that I don't actually see these plants actually growing before my eyes when they morph so rapidly from one day to the next?
The cuke, it turns out, is a mighty versatile fellow. It can be counted on to erase cellulite, banish pests from the garden, freshen your breath and even cure a hangover, according to this fellow garden blogger.
Me, I can't wait for the day I become that obnoxious office mate forcing dirt-caked cukes on my colleagues. The Putterer