Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Baby Cukes

I have baby cukes! Ok so not quite, but my cucumbers are blooming and they are all female blossoms. I’m growing Diamant which is a parthenocarpic pickling cuke, so all female blossoms is not a problem. This variety seems to send out one female blossom per leaf node. I can only hope the little plant is big enough to actually set its cukes. I know it needs no fertilization, but I’m thinking that it is still a very small plant. I’ll be watching them closely.

I grow lemon thyme. It used to be golden lemon thyme, but the golden part has mostly faded away over the years. At the beginning the variegated yellow part was very strong then one year a branch sprouted out of it that was no longer variegated and that part is now the only surviving part of the plant. I bought another one this year and I was going to replace it but the old ones looks so more appetizing than the variegated one. I never ate the other one. It never looked particularly edible to me. I loved it anyway because of its beauty and its wonderful scent. I think I’ll keep them both, but the green one I’ll use as it is supposed to be used – as an herb.

The best time to pick perennial herbs is usually a short time before they flower (though frankly I’ll do it anytime) and always pick them in the morning after any dew has dried off. The fragrant oils are strongest at that time. So this morning I picked the thyme. When I picked the plant, I picked the stems and all. The stems will be easy to pick out once they are dry. The little leaves will fall right off.

I noticed my oregano could used to be picked too, but I only dry one herb at a time as I don’t want to mix the flavors together in my dehydrator. Oregano flavored lemon thyme is not what I’m going for. Tomorrow we are supposed to get rain so I may have to wait a few days for the oregano. I use a dehydrator because you lose more oils if you air dry the herbs. It is a very cheap one that I bought ages ago. I have herb screens for them which are just plastic inserts with holes in them – as I said, a very cheap dehydrator. It has no temperature control, but I’ve dried everything in it, from jerky to cabbage (once I was in charge of dehydrating coleslaw and some other veggies for a raft trip down the Grand Canyon) and of course herbs. Fresh herbs are best, but if you don’t live in an area where the weather is always beautiful, get a dehydrator, or even better have a friend with one and share.

The bad news on the gardening front is that leaf miners have invaded my chard. I don’t have this under a row cover and I should to keep them out. So I spent some time picking out all the little larvae. Then I turned each leaf over and dispatched the egg sacks that haven’t hatched yet. The egg sacks are tiny little white specks. They are very small, but since they are white they are easy to see.


  1. I have blossoms too! But I had no idea that certain veggies have male and female blossoms. Thanks for teaching me something that it seems I should have known already. I"ll chalk it up to being more knowledgeable about perennials since I've been growing these for over a decade and it is only my second year tending edibles.

  2. Your cucumber blooms look really healthy. do you know how to tell if they will produce cucumbers or not? anyway, they're really pretty!

    i also have some mint in my garden-peppermint, oregano and basil. i might look into a dehydrator. my boyfriend recently tried to dry some stevia leaves, but we air dried them. this dehydrator idea seems interesting!

  3. Dehydrated coleslaw - that's a new one on me :-)
    I love home grown cucumbers, so full of flavour compared to bought ones.

  4. Melissa: Yes the cucurbits are weird that way. A lot of people that haven't grown them before complain that they have so many blossoms, but never any fruit. Usually the plants put out a profusion of male blossoms in advance of the female ones. I'm a little worried about my zucchini since the female blossom looks like it might bloom first and if there are no male blossoms open at the time, the fruit will never set.

    dp: Only the female blossoms will set fruit. You can tell if it is a female by looking behind the blossom. If there is something that looks like a little tiny fruit there it is female (round if the plant makes roundish fruit, elongated for zucchini and cucumbers). The male blossoms are just on simple stems. The females will set fruit if they get fertilized. Or for mine that are parthenocarpic they don't even need fertilization.

    easygardener: Yea dehydrated coleslaw is weird. I'd never done it before and haven't since (why when cabbages keeps so well), but when your mother asks you to make it when she has invited you on a 2 1/2 week raft trip down the grand canyon, you say "how much do you need". It actually turned out quite well.

  5. I can't believe you can pick off larvae or egg-sacks or anything associated with leaf-miners. I can't see anything except the damage.

  6. I'm very lucky. I have always had amazing eyesight. Sadly it is getting worse. I am going farsighted with age.