Can a surfeit of cucumbers be said to be a bounty?
I’m thinking no. It is, instead, a testament to bad planning.
In May, the idea of healthy, vigorous cucumber vines flourishing in the hoophouse and growing a robust crop of cool, crisp cucumbers is very appealing. So appealing that I planted seven – seven! – cucumber vines of the diva variety.
I chose diva because it is parthenocarpic. Or, rather, I chose diva because it doesn’t need pollination; it was only later that I learned that ‘parthenocarpic’ means ‘doesn’t need pollination.’ Also, my friend Christl had some seeds which she graciously shared with me.
I planted all seven and was crushed – crushed! – when only one sprouted and grew. A couple others germinated, but then just sat there, two inches tall, growing nowhere. But the one that grew, boy did it grow! And I was happy.
In May, the vision of a bumper crop is what drives us to plant gardens. In August, the reality of a bumper crop is what drives us to leave cucumbers in neighbors’ cars in the dead of night.
Not all bumper crops are a burden, of course. If you have too many tomatoes, it’s easy to make a simple sauce and freeze it. Too many winter squash? They’ll keep fine in a cool, dark place. Leeks and greens, blanch and freeze. But cucumbers do not lend themselves to any of that. Pretty much the only thing you can do with cucumbers, besides just eat them, is pickle them. (If you have suggestions, please please pass them on.)
We’re on our second huge batch of refrigerator pickles already, and those don’t even use up the divas, which aren’t pickling cucumbers. The diva surfeit is compounded by the reasonable, if not abundant, crop of kirbies.
When next May rolls around, I ask all of you to remind me about the cucumbers. Don’t let me be seduced by a mental image of a wall of cucumber vine, heavy with fruit. Don’t let me get carried away by the enthusiasm of the first warm days of the year. Either that, or leave your car doors unlocked.