Tag Archives: salad

Cucumbers – Easy to grow

Cucumbers, soup, salad and pickles. Cucumbers can do it all.

Cucumbers are mostly grown for eating fresh or preserved as pickles. They are high water usage plants that mature quickly and are best suited to larger gardens. However, they can be grown in small areas if the plants are caged or trellised.

Although cucumbers do best in loose sandy loam soil, they can be grown in any well drained soil. Cucumbers must be grown in full sunlight. Because their roots reach 36 to 48 inches deep, do not plant them where tree roots will rob them of water and nutrients.

Cucumbers are grown for slicing or for pickling. The cucumbers best suited for slicing are 6 to 8 inches long and 1 inch or more in diameter when mature.
Hint For a mild flavor harvest daily when they are still small and tender.
Cucumbers grown for pickling are 3 to 4 inches long and up to 1 inch in diameter at maturity. Either type can be used for pickling if picked when small.

Cucumbers require plenty of water and fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 for each 10 feet of row. Work the fertilizer into the soil and leave the surface smooth. When the vines are about 10 to 12 inches long, apply about 1/2 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row or 1 tablespoon per plant.

Many insecticides are available at garden centers for homeowner use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include Bt-based insecticides and sulfur. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and directions.

Harvest cucumbers when they reach the desired size and are green in color. Do not wait until they turn yellow. Yellow cucumbers are over mature and will have a strong flavor.

Hint Limited space? Think vertical grow your cucumbers on a trellis to save valuable garden space.

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Spinach & Other Greens – Easy to grow

Greens include all leafy green vegetables. They are grown mostly for their tender leaves. Common green vegetables include spinach, New Zealand spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion, and kale.

Most greens are cool season crops and must be grown in the early spring or fall in usda zones 7 – 9. Some greens, especially kale, will withstand temperatures below freezing and can be grown all winter in many areas.

Greens grow best in a well drained soil with lots of organic matter. They prefer full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade.
Spinach has a deep taproot so the soil must be worked at least 8 to 10 inches deep. Dig the soil in the early spring when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools. Work the soil into planting beds about 4 inches high.
This is especially important in heavy soils. Add compost or other organic matter before digging the soil.

Spinach is a heavy feeder and grows best when given plenty of fertilizer. Adequate nitrogen is needed to develop the dark green leaf color. Before planting the seeds, apply a general garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at the rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.
About 30 days after the plants come up, scatter 1 ⁄4 cup of garden fertilizer beside the plants for every 10 feet of row and water thoroughly.

Plant spinach as early as the soil can be worked in the spring or in August or later in the fall. The high temperatures and long days of summer cause spinach to “bolt” or produce a seed stalk that makes it unusable for food.
Hint Malabar and New Zealand spinach are good substitutes for spinach during hot weather, they tolerate high temperatures but don’t tolerate colder temperatures.
Seeds of Malabar and New Zealand spinach are slow to germinate.

Swiss chard is sometimes called summer spinach but is actually a member of the beet family and has a taste similar to that of beet greens. Swiss chard is very tolerant of heat and light freezes and can be harvested all year in many areas.

Kale is a cool season crop that should be planted in early spring or late fall. It is sometimes called “flowering cabbage” and makes a good border for flower beds or sidewalks.

Water plants thoroughly each week, and do not allow the plants to wilt. Water is needed more often in hot weather and in light soils. When watering, make sure to thoroughly soak the soil. This encourages crop roots to grow deeper into the soil, which helps them withstand dry periods better. Mulches help prevent soil from losing moisture and are good at controlling weeds.

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Dill – Easy to grow

Dill is a perennial herb that typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. Its leaves are used fresh or dried as an herb in dips, soups, salads, and other dishes. The seeds are used as a spice for pickling and for adding flavor to stews and roasts.

Dill will grow well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Dill likes a soil temperature near 70°F.

Dill can also be easily grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a deep container to accommodate the tall plant and its long roots. Use normal potting compost and keep the plants well watered.

If the container is inside, place the plants where they will receive at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You may need to support the plants with a stake. Dill plants will be ready for harvest within about 8 to 12 weeks after the seeds were sown.
Dill contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins.

Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant).

In general, apply a formulation such as NPK 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound per 100 square feet. A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is available at most garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.

To save Dill seed and the flowers form, they will bloom and seed. Cut the seed heads 2 to 3 weeks after bloom. Place the cuttings in paper bags, and allow to dry. The seeds will fall off when they are ready to be used.

Dill is a member of the parsley family. While it is possible to buy and use dried dill, dill is one of those herbs that loses its flavor rapidly, so fresh is always your best choice.​

Dill is an herb that is particularly tasty with salmon. It can be paired with salmon in any number of ways.

Dill Sauce for (fish) Salmon. Stir half a cup of finely chopped dill into a cup of plain yogurt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and optionally a clove of minced garlic. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Dill flavored vinegar.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups 2-1/2 percent acid rice vinegar
* Optionally use 1 cup water with 1 cup 5 percent acid white vinegar.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
This will keep for a month or more.

Dill flavored oil.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups olive oil.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
Strain out dill weed. This will keep for 1 or even 2 weeks.

Hint Posted by wordsfromanneli | November 21, 2017
Dill freezes nicely. I put a clump of leaves and seeds into a ziploc and keep it on the door of my fridge freezer. I take it out when I need it and use the scissors (or a knife) to snip the amount I need. Then I wrap it up again and put the rest back in the freezer. Very handy and almost as good as fresh.

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Jerusalem artichoke – Did you know…

This is a reworked/updated post from January 2014.
Consider adding this plant to a somewhat neglected spot in your yard or garden. Brighten up that neglected area with colorful sunflower like blooms and get a surprise crop of tasty tubers as fall turns to winter.

sunflowers Suprise! Jerusalem artichoke is not from Jerusalem, and it is not a artichoke. All though both are members of the daisy family.
A plant with many names. There have been various other names applied to this plant, such as the French or Canada potato, topinambour, and lambchoke. Sunchoke, a name by which it is still known today, was invented in the 1960s by Frieda Caplan, a produce wholesaler who was trying to revive the plant’s market appeal.
The eatable artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber.

Jerusalem artichokes are native to the Central America. The plant is technically an evergreen perennial but cultivated as an annual crop. Once established, it grows vigorously with multiple branches, reaching about 5-10 feet height and carries many golden yellow flower heads at the terminal end of branches.

It’s tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 3 or 4 inches long and 1 to 3 inches in diameter and vaguely resemble ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in color from pale brown to white, red, or even purple. sunflower-roots

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to cultivate. The tubers are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes. They have a similar consistency, and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter, nuttier flavor, raw and sliced thinly, they are fit for a salad. The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed.

Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.

It is one of the finest sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, this tuber an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dietetics.

The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin-E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals and thereby offers some protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.

Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which brings reduction in the blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressing effects of sodium.
100 g of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of this trace element among the common edible roots and tubers.

It also contains small levels of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Sunchokes prefer loose, well-drained soil, but will tolerate poor soils. (Lighter soil makes harvesting easier.)
Space sunchoke tubers 12 to 18 inches apart, 4 to 6 inches deep.
Space rows 4-6 feet apart (they will be prone to spreading).
Soil temperature at planting should be at least 50F.
Plant in full sun
Do not plant in areas that are consistently wet, as wet soil will rot the tubers. Plants are drought tolerant, but produce best with a regular supply of water.
Preferred growing temps = 65 to 90 F.

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10 Easy to grow garden crops

The Old Farmers Almanac Has a lot of Useful as well as fun information for farmers and Gardeners no matter how big or small your farm / garden or your age.

Mother Earth News What mother earth news about says the 10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners.

If you’re a beginner, consider starting with the 10 crops discussed below. All are easy to grow, and this combination offers lots of possibilities for cooking. Some of these crops are best grown by setting out started seedlings, but most are easy to grow from a packet of seed planted directly in your garden soil.

1. Radishes. Radishes do well even in not so great garden soil and are ready to harvest in only a few weeks(3-5). Plant the seeds anytime the air temperatures remain above freezing.

2. Salad greens (beet and turnip tops, lettuce, spinach, arugula and corn salad). Pick your favorite, or try a mix. Many companies sell mixed packets for summer and winter gardening. Plant the seeds in spring and fall, and you can pick salads almost year round.

3. Green beans. Easy to grow and prolific. If you get a big crop, they freeze well, and they’re also delicious when pickled with dill as dilly beans. Start with seeds after all danger of frost has passed.

4. Onions. Start with small plants, and if they do well, you can harvest bulb onions. If not, you can always eat the greens.

5. Strawberries. Perfectly ripe strawberries are unbelievably sweet, and the plants are surprisingly hardy. Buy bare root plants in early spring. Put this perennial in a sunny spot and keep it well watered and weed free.

6. Peppers. Both hot peppers and bell peppers are easy to grow. Start with plants and let peppers from the same plant ripen for different lengths of time to get a range of colors and flavors.

7. Bush zucchini. This squash won’t take up as much room in your garden as many other types, and it’s very prolific. Start from seeds or transplants. You won’t need more than a few plants for a bumper crop.

8. Tomatoes. There’s just no substitute for a perfectly ripe homegrown tomato, and it’s hard to go wrong when you start with strong plants. If you get a big crop, consider canning or freezing your excess tomato’s.

9. Basil. Many herbs are easy to grow, but basil is a good choice because it’s a nice complement to tomatoes or any tomato dish. Basil is easy to grow from seeds or from transplants.

10. Potatoes. An easy-to-grow staple that stores well when kept cool. A simple and low maintenance approach is to plant potatoes in straw rather than soil. ‘Seeds’ are whole or cut sections of potatoes, sold in early spring.

Lifehacker has a lot of good useful information for the novice gardener, even if some of it is a bit on the wacky side of gardening.

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Mama And Doctors

Eat Your Vegetables – Mama Said and Mama was right ‘again’.

Some vegetables, flavors intensify as the plant matures, which is why the so called baby versions have a wide taste appeal with just as many health benefits.
Experiment with baby artichokes, beans, beets, cucumbers(2-4 inches long), okra(small is better), peppers, turnips and squashes(4-5 inches long) and carrots (the ones sold in bunches, with greens still attached not those sold in plastic bags, which are simply regular carrots, trimmed down.

You can find the babies at larger supermarkets, specialty grocers, and farmers’ markets such as younger brussels sprouts, can even be bought frozen. Not only do many people find baby vegetables more flavorful and less bitter, but they prefer the texture, too. Young vegetables are tender and require less cooking time.

Brussels sprout salad:
Slice vert thin, add a small amount of vinegarette dressing, toss well and let set for 20-30 minutes. Toss again to coat sprouts with dressing and add a few roasted pine nuts just before serving.

Oil them up judiciously using fats especially heart healthy ones like olive oil can go far in helping you love your veggies. When fat binds with seasonings and spices, it can transform vegetables from a duty diet item to something downright yummy. The link between vegetable avoidance and certain cancers is strong enough to justify a few oil added calories.

Raw veggies probably aren’t the first thing you crave when a snack attack strikes, but you’ll be much more tempted to eat them when they’re dunked in hummus, low fat dip, or your favorite salad dressing. Try munching at work, in front of the TV or when surfing the internet. Snacking on veggies away from the dinner table makes eating them feel like less of a health chore.

The poor lonely onion family, which includes leeks, shallots, and garlic, is rich in compounds suspected to fight cancer, says nutritionist Valerie Green, MPH. But for onion haters, the sharp flavors and strong smells can be almost nauseating. Try slow roasting plants in the onion family, which brings out the sweetness and cuts the sharpness. Brush leeks, shallots, garlic or thick sliced onions with a little olive oil(or ‘real’ butter) wrap in foil packets, and toss on the grill to mild down take the sting.

Tomato’s little secret is making sure you buy those that are vine ripened which eliminates almost all the bitter flavors, says Autar Mattoo, PhD, a molecular biologist with the USDA.

Over mature eggplants are bitter, but the size of this fiber and potassium packed vegetable isn’t your best clue. If your thumb leaves an indent that doesn’t bounce back, the eggplant will be spongy, tough, and bad tasting, even if it’s a little one. To further improve taste, check out its “belly button” at the blossom end, eggplants have either an oval or round dimple. Buy only the ovals.

To reduce eggplant’s bitter tendencies even more, after you slice it, sprinkle it with salt, then wait about half hour, rinse, pat dry and proceed with your recipe. Salt draws out water which contains the bitter tasting compounds.
Eggplants are worth the trouble. The insides of these veggies are high in polyphenols the same chemicals that make apples so good for you.

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Tomato’s Seed to Table – Short Course

Don’t Crowd Seedlings.
Don’t Let Seedlings Grow Into Each Other. If you are starting tomatoes from seed, be sure to give the seedlings room to branch out. Close conditions inhibit their growth, so transplant them as soon as they get their first true leaves and move them into 4″ pots about 2 weeks after that.

Provide lots of light.
Tomato seedlings will need either strong, direct sunlight or 14-18 hours under grow lights. Place the young plants only a couple of inches from florescent grow lights. Plant your tomatoes outside in the sunniest part of your vegetable plot.

Put a fan on your seedlings.
Tomato plants need to move and sway in the breeze, to develop strong stems. Provide a breeze by turning a fan on them for 5-10 minutes twice a day.

Preheat the soil in your garden.
Using Black Plastic to Warm the Soil. Tomatoes love heat. Cover the planting area with black or red plastic a couple of weeks before you intend to plant. Those extra degrees of warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes. Tomato’s will germinate below 70 degrees, however best results are obtained when soil temperature is above 70 degrees and below 95 degrees.

Bury them deep.
Bury tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to a few top leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig a deeper hole or simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways. It will straighten up and grow toward the sun. Be careful not to drive your pole or cage into the stem.

Mulch Later.
Straw Makes a Great Vegetable Garden Mulch. Mulch after the ground has had a chance to warm up. Mulching does conserve water and prevents the soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on the plants, but if you put it down too early it will also shade and therefore cool the soil. Try using plastic mulch for heat lovers like tomatoes and peppers. (See Tip #4)

Remove the Bottom Leaves.
Tomato Leaf Spot Diseases. Once the tomato plants are about 3′ tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1′ of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them. Spraying weekly with compost tea also seems to be effective at warding off fungus diseases.

Pinch & Prune for More Tomatoes
Tomato Suckers in the Joint of Branches. Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

Water the Tomato Plants Regularly.
Blossom End Rot. Water deeply and regularly while the plants are developing. Irregular watering, (missing a week and trying to make up for it), leads to blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit begins to ripen, lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars. Don’t withhold water so much that the plants wilt and become stressed or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.

Getting Them to Set Tomatoes.
Determinate type tomatoes tend to set and ripen their fruit all at about the same time, making a large quantity available when you’re ready to make sauce.
You can get indeterminate type tomatoes to set fruit earlier by pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer.

Iowa State University is for those of you that garden in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. University of Texas provides information that most often effect southern state tomato gardens.

No matter where you live both sites have a huge amount of useful information on Identifying and treating tomato diseases. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the sheer numbers of tomato diseases. I’m pretty sure you will not suffer from all of them this year. in fact, insect control very well maybe your biggest problem in a home garden.

Iowa State University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Texas A and M University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Insect control just like disease control starts with properly identifying the insect(s) that are causing your problems.
Colorado State University will help you identify and control some of the most common tomato insect pest.

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Salads and Pickles

bamboo cucumber trellis

Cucumber Bamboo Trellis

Cucumber is a tender, warm season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Recommended Varieties

2017-02-03-18_40_03-ez-gardening-e-507_cucumbers-pdf
Long Green Slicing

Burpless (hybrid – 62 days to harvest; the original sweet, long, Chinese type hybrid; does well on a trellis).

Marketmore 76 (68 days; very uniform, dark green, straight fruit; multiple disease resistance).

Straight 8 (58 days; AAS winner a long time favorite; excellent flavor evenly dark green fruit).

cucumber wire trellis

Cucumber wire trellis

Long Green Slicing (compact plant)

Bush Crop (55 days to harvest; delicious; 6-8 inch fruit on dwarf, bushy plants)

Fanfare (hybrid – 63 days AAS winner; great taste; high yield; extended harvest; disease resistant).

Salad Bush (hybrid – 57 days; AAS winner; uniform 8 inch fruit on compact plants; tolerant to a wide variety of diseases

Pickling

Bush Pickle (48 days to harvest; compact plant; good for container growing)

Carolina (Hybrid – 49 days; straight, blocky fruits with white spines; medium-sized plant with good vigor; disease resistant)

When to Plant

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

row-planted-cucumbers Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Care

Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with NPK 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 balanced fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.

wood container cucumber trellis

Cucumber container grown on wood trellis

Harvesting

Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of my small cucumbers are badly misshapen. Will they develop into normal cucumbers?

A. No. They should be removed from the vines. Misshapen cucumbers may result from poor pollination or low fertility. Side-dressing with a complete fertilizer may help later cucumbers to develop normally.

Q. Why do some of my plants suddenly wilt and die? Dead or dying plants are scattered all over my cucumber patch. One plant in a hill may be healthy, while another dies.

A. These are typical symptoms of the bacterial wilt disease. This disease is spread by cucumber beetles early in the season. The beetles must be controlled immediately when the plants are small.

Q. Is there really a “burpless” cucumber?

A. Yes. Burpless cucumbers are no longer considered novelties and are offered in most garden catalogs. They are mild, sweet and crisp when fresh. The skin is tender and free of bitterness, although many people peel it off. Most varieties are long (10 to 12 inches) and curved, unless grown on a trellis. These varieties are better eaten fresh, using conventional varieties for most picklng uses.

Q. What cucumber variety should I buy for gherkins?

A. Buy the West Indian gherkin. It is a close relative of the garden cucumber used for pickling. The fruits are generally oval, 1 to 3 inches long and more spiny than cucumbers. They are also called “burr cucumbers” but are usually listed in catalogs as West Indian gherkin. They are grown in the same way as cucumbers. Small-fruited, prickly varieties of cucumber are sometimes sold as “gherkins.” If small, tender cucumbers are what you want to pickle and call “gherkins,” then these misnamed cucumber varieties serve the purpose well.

Q. Why do my cucumbers fail to set fruit and yield properly?

A. The first yellow flowers appearing on the plants are male flowers that provide pollen. These flowers normally drop off after blooming. The small cucumber is evident at the base of the female flower (even before it opens) and should develop into an edible fruit if properly pollinated. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit set and yield, including cold temperatures and rainy weather that hamper bee activity or improper use of insecticides that kill bees.

Q. What are gynoecious hybrids?

A. Gynoecious (“female-flowering”) hybrids are special hybrids of slicing and pickling cucumbers that are advertised in many garden catalogs. Because they have all female flowers, they may be earlier and higher yielding than other varieties. Usually, the seed company mixes in a small proportion of seed of a standard cucumber as a pollinator.

Q. How far away from melons should I plant my cucumbers? I am concerned about cross pollination.

A. Contrary to popular opinion, cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with muskmelons or watermelons and cause them to become bitter, tasteless or off-flavor. Because cucumbers and melons require considerable space in the garden, however, plant the rows far enough apart for proper vine growth without overlapping.

Q. What causes my cucumber plants to be stunted? The leaves are a mottled yellow, and the fruits are blotchy and taste bitter.

A. This condition is caused by the cucumber mosaic virus. Grow mosaic-resistant varieties.

Q. What causes the white mold growth on the upper surfaces of my cucumber leaves?

A. This condition is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is most severe during late summer and fall plantings. Grow resistant varieties.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

Calories 5
Protein trace
Dietary fiber 1 gram
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Calcium 7 mg
Vitamin A 70 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Iron trace

Preparation & Serving

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Home Preservation

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips

Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use “pure” or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill seed or 1 head of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate one to six weeks before eating. (Best flavor after 4 weeks).

Recipes

Cucumber Yogurt Salad Dressing

This is a delicious, heart healthy, low calorie salad dressing which can be used as a dip for steamed or raw vegetables or as a topping for baked potatoes or steamed carrots. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 pickling or slicing cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 10 whole cilanto leaves
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, julienne (about 1 inch long)

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes) do not boil. Set saucepan in cold water to cool the vinegar mixture. When cool, pour over cucumbers and garnish with red peppers. Serves four.

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Don’t Poison Your Family And Holiday Guest – Avoid Bagged Salad Greens

The holiday season is here. Don’t sicken your family or guest with food poisoning.

Bagged salad can fuel the growth of food poisoning bugs like Salmonella and make them more dangerous.

Scientists said the moist environment combined with nutrients leaching out of chopped leaves created the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

If you must buy bagged greens scientist advised people to eat bagged salad on the day they bought it.

Fresh green leaves and salad foods are often involved in food poisoning.

Studies have shown that salad can carry bacteria, but the research team showed the bag made things much worse.
The study showed sugars, proteins and minerals escaped from the cut leaves into the water in the bag.
Researcher Dr Primrose Freestone said “That’s a reasonable amount of nutrients if you’re a bacterium.”

The studies showed that Salmonella did especially well in bags containing spinach, while E. coli loved rocket(Arugula) leaves. Dr Freestone said “Juices that naturally leach from the leaves have the potential to increase the growth of any pathogen that might be present and establish them so strongly that washing wouldn’t be enough to eradicate them.”

“Buy the bag with the best sell-by date, avoid lots of mushed leaves and if it’s(the bag) is inflated don’t use it.”

A genetic analysis of the Salmonella showed they had gained the mutations that would help them to infect people. Dr Freestone said “We did see bacteria whose behavior had turned more to virulence.

Dr Jeri Barak, from the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said: “It would be fair to conclude that if Salmonella is present in salads (and) it might grow to infectious doses.”
“Consumers should treat bagged salads as temperature sensitive food products, like milk and ice cream. keeping these foods in the refrigerator is important.”

Happy Holidays.

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Greek Style Summer Garden Salad

Tomato’s, Red Onions, Cucumbers garnish with cheese, I favor Feta cheese.

Use only very fresh home grown herbs, leafy greens and vegetables. It simply does not taste as good when made from market vegetables that were picked green in Mexico or Chile, shipped thousands of miles.

Garden Fresh – Greek Style Farmers {horiatiki} Salad
*3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*1½ tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice [in a pinch use white wine vinegar]
*1 clove minced garlic {optional}
*1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
*¼ teaspoon salt {optional}
*¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and extra for garnish {Optional} use sparingly
*3 tomatoes cut into wedges
*¼ red onion thin sliced into rings
*1 cucumber sliced into thick half moons de-seed if cucumbers are large
*½ green and or red sweet pepper—julienne {optional}
*4 oz (120g) feta cheese cut into small cubes [Use a cheese that you like]

Note: Add what ever garden fresh greens or herbs you have to this salad.

Put olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and or or basel in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl, add cheese on top.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving.

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