Cucumber Problems

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(HOST) Most Vermonters love vegetables fresh from the garden but commentator Edith Hunter says that even in the garden it’s sometimes possible to have too much of a good thing.

(HUNTER) This year I had a problem with cucumbers. But I have come up with some solutions.

Most of us plant five or six hills of cucumbers. We space the hills nicely, and then wait impatiently for the first little yellow flowers to bear fruit. We think they are never going to develop.

And then, all of a sudden, we are flooded with cucumbers. By this time the little hills merge completely, and it is difficult to find a place to put one’s feet when harvesting. It’s even more difficult to find the cucumbers.

This summer I visited a friend who has only been farming for a few years. He is very proud of his garden and insisted that grandson Sammy and I look at it with him.

It was a very nice garden. His cucumber plot looked like everyone else’s – a solid mass of cucumber leaves. Sammy is used to looking for cucumbers and, stepping carefully between the leaves, started examining my friend’s patch.

When he announced that he had found a large one, my friend urged him to pick it. “I must have missed that one.”

“Here’s another,” announced Sammy.

To make a long story short, in just a few minutes Sammy had discovered 15 very, very large cucumbers. I suggested to my friend that we would be happy to relieve him of them. We would take them home, slice them in half, and give them to the chickens. He accepted our offer.

The next day, when I went out to my own cucumber patch (I had missed a day), I was shocked to find 17 cucumbers ranging in size from medium (6 inches) to 12 inch monsters. I don’t grow the little pickling variety.

Here are some of the ways I solved the cucumber problem.

First, I own a flock of chickens. Second, I try to check the patch every day, taking along a large basket.

I pick any that are up to six inches long for salads or sandwiches. They are crisp and delicious. Those that are six to eight inches long, I use for bread and butter pickles. Those that have escaped my notice and reached ten inches I use for cucumber soup.

I peel and remove the seeds, cut in chunks, throw in an onion and some chicken broth and cook down, finishing off in the blender. This is supposed to be eaten cold, but I freeze it to enjoy hot next winter.

The big yellow cucumbers I give to friends who make ripe cucumber pickles, or I give them to the chickens.

Another option is to attend church or other public functions and place the cucumbers by the exit with a large sign – FREE.

Of course the final solution is a killing frost.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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