While going through the seed catalogs with a highlighter pen, it is something of a relief to find a packet of seed I don’t want. This classic American heirloom, the famous Lemon cucumber, was not a success in my garden.
First of all, it’s a huge plant and several vines ended up trailing into my tomato plants, where the leaves promptly caught mildew (shown in the photo), causing me to rip them out in real fear for the tomato plants. (And I’ll tell you now they all did just fine, in case the thought of a tomato plant in danger of foliage disease causes your pulse to subtly quicken, as it does mine.)
Even the vines that didn’t get mildew, however, made precious few cucumbers. I should have known I was in for trouble when a fellow South Carolina gardener said, earlier in the season, “I can never get those to mature.”
Of course that’s exactly what happened to us, too. After a glorious start, where the vines set so many teensy baby cukes I could hardly believe my eyes, only a handful of them ever got beyond the size of a ping pong ball. And, as F. said, even then there was nothing to them. No amazing or unusual flavor, just an ordinary level of crispness, and a skin that was a bit thicker than our hybrid pickling cucumber, Sumter.
Either I screwed up, or this heirloom doesn’t appreciate the hot and muggy conditions of the Carolina piedmont. But since we’ll only be here for one more gardening season, I’m not going to experiment with valuable garden real estate to try and find out what the exact culprit may be.
My one regret is that the bees just loved them. But then, the bees loved so many things in the garden, many of which I plan to plant again, and I’ve got even more pollinator delicacies planned for them in 2010.
Bees are the bees’ knees, you know.