I am despondent. Totally, utterly despondent, I tell ya. Why? Because yesterday, I pulled up my three cucumber plants. Total summer yield: three cucumbers. Well, one was so large that I nicknamed it a zucchumber. I think it tipped the ruler at more than a foot in length. It doesn’t matter, though. I don’t grow them to break records. I grow them to pick when they’re approaching the perfect pickle cucumber size. Which is really tough to do when it doesn’t begin to ripen until it’s already a monster. So I’ll not even count the zucchumber. Meaning this gardening season has been an almost certain bust.
No more visions of cucumber salads. No more visions of bread and butter and Kosher dill pickles to can. No more sliced cucumbers with salt, vinegar and onions. No more cucumbers. It is a sad day.
Especially considering that this time last year, I was blessed with so many cucumbers that they were served with virtually every meal. Kate was here. Ask her. She’ll remember. Every time she’d say, “I’m starving. What do you have to eat?”, my response was, “have a cucumber, Kate.”
The cucumbers were so successful that the mass production continued well into the early fall, at which point I really didn’t care if I ever saw a cucumber again. Of course, the long cold winter changed all that, and by the time spring arrived, I was more than eager to become the queen of the garden yet again.
Things started off with a bang. Beautiful green leaves were as bountiful as the blossoms that promised another stellar crop. I watered and fertilized and gently placed the stems on their trellis as the plants reached for the sky. Except that the more the plants grew, the uglier they looked, the more I wondered what had gone wrong, and the further away my dreams of cucumbers a-plenty drifted.
Until I was finally forced to do the unthinkable. I pulled up every single plant. Ironically, the main root system was virtually non-existent. I say that because one usually expects a plant to give up a little fight as it’s pulled from the ground – to offer a little bit of resistance to its own murder by the hands of she who planted it. But there was no fight.
The thing that bothers me the most is that I don’t know what went wrong – really I don’t. I should’ve been able to grow the cucumbers with ease – just like the tomatoes. (And they’re not looking as great as I’d like, either.) So now it’s a quest to find out what went wrong. Had I not watered enough? Had I watered too much? Had they succumbed to heat exhaustion, left with no choice than to die on the vine?
Better yet, is it too late to plant new cucumber plants? Heck, that may have been the best idea I’ve had all summer. On that note, I’m off to Southern States.