Thursday, July 29, 2010

Accentuate the positive

It was a steamy, sweaty morning at the Derwood Demo Garden, in which we dealt with squash plants collapsed from borers, bean plants eaten by rabbits, corn colonized by stink bugs, and what I'm pretty sure is downy mildew on basil (will confirm tomorrow, and the plants are goners no matter what). I dutifully took pictures of it all (well, not the bean plants that weren't there), but I'm not going to depress you with those. We are all having a hard enough summer.

Here's some of what is working, instead. Tomatoes are suffering from diseases and uneven watering, but they are producing well (and I had half a Brandywine Sudduth's Strain for lunch, with feta and (non-mildewy) basil, and it was delish). Here's our harvest of cherry tomatoes for the day:

That's Black Cherry, Green Grape, Sun Gold, Isis Candy, and Snow White.

We also had a nice small harvest of okra (Star of David, which stays tender at larger sizes):

Peppers are doing well, including this gorgeous (very hot) edible ornamental called Explosive Embers:

I dug a few carrots today, including this one that looks like it's in urgent need of a bathroom:

Also doing well, this hedge of Greek basil, so far unaffected by disease:

It gets about eight inches high (this is six plants in a row). Also in the shot: white zinnias, Bush Slicer cucumber (which does not stay bush-like, even in a container as I'm growing it at home, but does produce a lot of perfectly-shaped cukes), and peanuts, which you can barely see since the cucumbers are trying to eat them.

Mouse melons are growing well up our cattle panel arbor:

They keep wanting to get bushy at the bottom, which is not the way my plants at home are behaving, and most of the fruit is being produced down there as well. I'll do another post on mouse melons soon.

So I am trying to accentuate the positive today! And eliminate the negative, too, though I can tell you I was not ready to mess with those stink bugs on such a stinky humid morning. Tomorrow is another day... and a cooler one too, it looks like!

Sex lives of squashes?

Barbara Damrosch scores again in her "A Cook's Garden" column in today's Washington Post. Column title: "The sex lives of squashes? Relax, it's just lunch!"

Damrosch suggest you concentrate your culinary efforts by cutting primarily male blossoms. And then she tells you how to cook them without ending up with a soggy mess.

To link over to her column, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Sunday afternoon hobby

This is an example of my Sunday afternoon hobby during summer time; nothing crazy, just normal stuff.

My wife made the zucchini–apple soup (top left) and the zucchini bread (top right). We froze half of the soup (small containers) for future use as well as all the bread loaves. I canned 16 pints of dill pickles (bottom right), but two (top left) didn’t seal properly and need to be kept in the fridge. I tried for the first time my pressure cooker/canner this weekend: 5 pints of wax beans and 3 pints of tomatoes in their own juice was the result. My dehydrator worked all weekend. In addition to drying sliced apples (quart jars in the back), I dried herbs, scallions (green and white parts) and tomato slices (bottom left). I tried something new this weekend with the tomatoes. It’s called tomato leather (bottom right). Imagine a sheet of your favorite pizza sauce, in a cracker. It tastes good and will be perfect as topping.

With the not-so good weather we got last Sunday, it was a perfect day in the kitchen.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Fair Garden

Amid the bustle of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair (held this year August 13-21) it's nice to escape for a while from the raucous rides and mooing cows and visit a garden oasis. If you attend our upcoming fair (it's fun!) please stop by the Master Gardeners' Demonstration Garden (near Old McDonald's Barn and the 4H building) where you will be greeted by MGs ready to show you around and answer your questions.

The Fairgrounds Demo Garden highlights important gardening concepts such as native plants, xeriscaping, use of rain water, and attraction of beneficial insects. The garden has won several awards and is Bay-Wise certified. And it's just a lovely place to hang around in.

The MG team has planted culinary herbs and popular vegetables, integrating them with ornamental plantings. One of the most impressive features is this Tower of Malabar Spinach:

Vegetables such as squash grow together with annual ornamentals:

(Ornamental sweet potatoes such as these purple ones, by the way, do technically have edible roots, but they are bred for beauty rather than culinary excellence.)

A Cubanelle pepper looks very happy and tasty in the heat! The watering team has kept the garden in good shape even through this nasty weather.

We hope you can visit the fair to sample the stomach-churning rides and the sticky, greasy food (in that order, please!) and check out the prize-winning livestock and farm products - but most of all to see the handiwork of some hard-working Master Gardeners.


Sunflowers are a fun addition to the garden. Here are reasons everyone should grow them.

Beauty - Sunflowers are beautiful. When the Illinois Blacksmith John Deere was choosing colors for his new plow, I bet he was looking at a sunflower. The deep green and yellow are synchronous as opposed to corn where the green and yellow are asynchronous. How can you look at a sunflower and not smile? One fresh sunflower makes a great centerpiece for the table.

Colossal size – Sunflowers are like daisies on radioactive steroids. Here I stand next to my sunflowers. I am 6’4” tall. That biggest sunflower is over 9 feet tall. WOW!

Attracts beneficials - A sunflower is a huge billboard to the pollinating insect world that says “EAT ME”. When you have sunflowers every pollinator knows where to go. The morning feast in a sunflower head is entrancing. Go out early and you will be amazed at the bees, wasps, and ants all jockeying for position to get the nectar and in return pollinate the hundreds of florets in each head. You can stick your face right up to the head to watch. The pollinators are so focused on their work that they don’t notice you. These same pollinators will go on to pollinate other plants in the garden. When the flowers are gone and the seeds set, here come the birds that will also gobble up some of those pesky bugs in the garden.

Disease and insect resistant – There are not very many diseases or insects that bother sunflowers.

Incredible roots – The roots penetrate several feet down in to the soil to add organic matter and improve the tilth. They can actually help break up hard pan and draw up that deep moisture.

Drought resistant - The deep roots make them drought resistant. We have not watered our sunflowers since they were a foot tall and this summer has been very dry. Note how brown the pasture is behind the sunflower stalks.

Weed resistant – Because the roots are so efficient in collecting water, other plants can’t compete with sunflowers. Make sure you keep them a few feet from your other fruits and vegetables.

Windbreak - I have notices that they actually serve as a little windbreak for the garden.

Harvest - Sunflower seed yield is incredible. Whether you or the birds eat them, someone will have their fill. Try this. Fill your right cheek full of sunflower seeds. Then one by one crack each seed with your teeth and tongue, spit out the hulls, and move the kernels over to your left cheek. When you have processed them all, you will have a nice cheek full of kernels to chew up and swallow. This improves mouth dexterity and it’s a lot healthier than chewing tobacco.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Amazing: 108,000 fall veggie plants

The mile-long gravel lane to Sharp’s at Waterford Farm begins with a helpful sign: “Rough Road. Slow Down. Enjoy the Scenery!” and ends near two shaded greenhouses holding, over the next month, 108,000 veggie plants getting ready for fall transplanting—delightful scenery indeed if you can’t locate cool-weather veggie plants at local retailers.

“We’ll have four plantings available of a wide range of traditional fall vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, chard, and lettuce, plus some less-common Asian vegetables, such as mizuna and pakchoi,” explained Denise Sharp, who oversees plant production. “We’ll also have several fall herbs, such as cilantro, dill, and fennel.”

“Most of the plants will go to U-pick or commercial farms, such as Larriland Farm and Gorman Farm in Howard County, Spicknell’s Farm Market in Prince George’s County, and Lewis Orchards & Farm Market and One Acre Farm in Montgomery County. Others will go to local retail nurseries, and we’ll have about 1,800 six-packs here for gardeners who want to pick up their plants at the farm,” she said. “Most are in plugs now, but we’ve starting to transfer the first planting into market six-packs.”

Denise said fall plants will be on sale Monday, August 2, through Friday, September 10. “Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower should be planted in early to mid-August, depending temperatures in your garden, but lettuces do well even when planted in September,” Denise explained.

“Selection obviously will be greatest in the earlier weeks and then less as gardeners buy our stock. Those looking for a particular vegetable or herb and price, which we’ll set when the plants go on sale, should query us from the Contact tab of our website or give us a call,” she said. CLICK HERE to link to the farm’s website and contact information.

“If you come to the farm, just park on the grass across from the two greenhouses,” Denise said. “This is a working farm, so we may be out in the field irrigating one of our commercial crops or picking sweet corn. If no one is at the greenhouses and you have a question, call my cell-phone number, which is posted in the larger greenhouse. When you select the plants you want, just put the money or check in the self-serve cash box on the counter by the door.”

What, no credit cards? Self-serve cash box? No security alarms by the greenhouse exit?

Well, it’s called the honor system—an ancient sales custom in farm country that’s still used at Sharp’s at Waterford Farm.

Honorable gardeners, mark your calendars if you’ve been looking for a source for fall veggie plants.

And if you drive to Waterford Farm, relish the experience. When you turn off Maryland Route 97 onto Jenning’s Chapel Road, slow down and enjoy the coolness of the tree-canopied country road and the scenes of horses grazing behind white fences. When you turn into the gravel lane to Waterford Farm, slow down even more, to about the speed of a team-pulled farm wagon in 1903, when the Sharp family began working their farm.

And contemplate the significance of your visit. You’re visiting a local farm to buy plants from women and men who planted the seeds, thinned the seedlings, and cared for them until you buy. You can’t get more “local” than that. And you’re helping two new generations of a family continue working the 530-acre Waterford Farm into a new century.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cruisin' for Cantaloupes

I just love garden surprises! I go out into my garden just to say hello to my plants and then bing! There it is! Today it was a cantaloupe that is about the size of a grapefruit.

Did you know that cantaloupe is the only fruit that will slip from the vine when it is ready? So harvesting it is basically fool proof. You can also smell cantaloupes from several feet away when they are ripe. It's a very sweet smell that makes your mouth water!

But that smell also attracts fruit flies and ants. So keep an eye on your cantaloupes as they come close to maturity. Last summer, one of my lopes was almost destroyed by a gaggle of ants that found their way to my precious produce.

Below is a picture of that very cantaloupe. I had to cut the top part off where the ants had gotten to it, but it was still able to be salvaged....and boy was it sweet:

Cantaloupes are probably my hubby's most favorite thing that comes from the garden. Here's another garden nugget that you may not know about: they have lots of potassium and are great for lowering your blood pressure! Who says sweet treats aren't good for you?!

Well this is all for now garden gals and guys. Until next time!

Happy gardening!

Weather alert: cooler beginning today

Cooler weather arrives today—on the average, that is. That may be hard to imagine with temperatures hitting the high 90s on most recent days and 100° yesterday, when the Heat Index Value in many areas reached 115°.

But it’s true, according to historic daily averages for the Clarksville-Dayton area. Our average high is 88° from July 18 to 23. Our average low is 64° from July 17 to 25. Our high mean is 76° from July 18 to 24. Our average high drops to 87° on July 24, the average low to 63° on July 26. The mean drops from 76° to 75° today, Sunday, July 25. The averages in your area probably are similar.

Doesn’t that make you feel cooler—at least in an “average” or “mean” sort of way?

Averages are averages and means are means, and they highlight that the weather we’ve been having the last few weeks has been significantly warmer than the historic record. That same history indicates we can be sure cooler weather is on its way, regardless of the triple-digit readings on our front-porch thermometers.

And if cooler weather is coming, many of us gardeners will be thinking about planting fall or cool-weather veggies, much heralded by gourmets and just plain old home cooks as some of the best of the gardening year. In her “A Cook’s Garden” column in the Washington Post on July 15, for example, Barbara Damrosch wrote, “Fall is a long, glorious season for these vegetables [brassicas, such as kale, broccoli, cabbage], sweetening them and mellowing their flavors.”

Finding bedding plants for cool-weather veggies can be frustrating. Big-box stores in our area seem to stock only spring veggie plants. Local nurseries don’t stock fall veggies if there is insufficient demand. And, of course, many of us forgot to order sufficient seed in the spring to start our own plants now.

But don’t despair. Return to this Grow It Eat It blog tomorrow to read my next posting about a family farm near the border of Howard and Montgomery counties where two greenhouses of veggie seedlings over the next six weeks will be ready for farmers and gardeners to set out for fall crops.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mater harvest!

I have finally picked my first batch of tomatoes. The large ones are pineapple tomatoes and the others, of course, are cherry tomatoes.

The pineapple tomatoes were so sweet! I normally don't like the taste of a tomato by itself but this was more like eating a peach than a tomato!

I harvested some more sweet banana peppers too. I have to find some recipes for all these peppers.

The garden is looking pretty good, even though I lost my cucumber plants. Things are still very slow to ripen and I have a lot of green tomatoes still refusing to turn red. I also spied an eggplant that should be ready for pickin' soon.

In the meantime, here is what I did with my pineapple maters....a refreshing spinach salad:

Until next time, garden gals and guys!

Happy gardening!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two thumbs up for tomatoes, one thumb down for fungus

I’ve just picked a colander full of tomatoes, so I’m officially declaring the beginning of Tomato Harvest 2010 at Meadow Glenn. I had picked a handful of Sungolds last week—and another handful earlier this week, but when I saw red and gold fruit from our kitchen window, I knew it was time for serious tomato picking.

In a few minutes I filled the colander with two small Big Beefs, seven Juliets, several handfuls of Sungolds, and more than 20 Red Alerts.

The Red Alerts are one of my two “test” varieties for 2010. When I ordered other seeds in late winter, Totally Tomatoes Seed Company sent me a free trial packet of 20 Red Alert seeds. Generally I’m not impressed by such gifts, but, hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I started the seeds, thinned the seedlings to six, gave four to friends, and kept two for our garden.

I really didn’t know what to expect of the Red Alerts because the packet contained minimal information: “Tomato. Red Alert. Determinate—Red. 50-55 days from transplant.”

I’ve found Red Alerts to be, well, unusual. The plants seem to have as many fruiting branches as leaves. From a distance you might think the plants are all tomatoes and no leaves. Each fruiting branch has eight to 10 slightly elongated golf-ball sized fruits. I counted 160 on one plant. I measured one plant, and its highest leaf is 27”, and the plant is 30” wide, so these shorties really don’t require staking and should work well in container or patio gardens.

The Red Alert tomatoes are juicy, sort of mid-range between “sweet” and “acidic” in flavor, but not on a scale that makes me want to shout “Wow!” or promise, “Must plant again next year.” At the rate the Red Alerts are ripening, fruit production will span a relatively limited number of weeks, perhaps reflecting the variety’s determinate DNA. I began picking 52 days after transplanting, so Red Alert might be a good “early” tomato to tide me over until the big ones mature if I didn’t have Sungolds and Juliets.

The big producers in my tomato patch the next couple of weeks will be Red Alerts, Sungolds (“Wow!”), and Juliets (“Must plant again”). The big red slicers are shaping up well, but I’ll just have to be patient a few more days or weeks. I spied three huge Brandywine heirlooms that promise mouth-watering sandwiches to come, and rapidly enlarging Celebrities promise more colanders full of big red slicers.

But all is not well in the tomato patch. While picking, I noticed some lower leaves were splotched and yellowing, so I picked and removed them from the patch. The problem is an endemic fungus disease called early blight. At this time of the gardening year, I think the best tactic is to slow its spread by removing affected leaves. For additional information about early blight on tomatoes, including a photo, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Free concert at Meadow Glenn

The morning concert here at Meadow Glenn is as good as that given by any high-school chorus. The school chorus, however, would have one advantage—number of participants. The concert in our yard is presented by one vocalist—a Gray Catbird.

The catbird sits about 15-feet up in a red maple tree that I’ve tended since it was a seedling. If I walk out at 6 in the morning to get the Post, the catbird usually is singing. If I weed our veggie garden later in the morning, the catbird usually sings on—sometimes for hours at a time. Its repertoire is the calls of other birds and sometimes local noises, though I haven’t yet heard it duplicate my ZZZzzzing.

A relative of the better-known mimic, the Northern Mockingbird, the Gray Catbird in my opinion is not quite so skilled. The mocker tends to repeat its repertoire time after time. The catbird seldom repeats. The mocker to my ears does a better job of mimicking other birds. Our catbird’s version of a Blue Jay’s call sounds like a jay screaming through a pipe.

From time to time a second catbird joins the first. Bird resources suggest the dominant singer is male, the second female. I’ve been watching the two over the last couple of months. At first they would fly in and out of our blue spruce scores of times each day. I think they successfully nested there.

In more recent weeks we see three—or four?—catbirds surveying the world from our roof and making themselves at home just about everywhere in our yard and gardens. On the hottest afternoons they retreat to the shade of our forsythia hedge.

The catbirds are more than fascinating music to my ears. When they’re not singing, they’re dashing about in our veggie garden searching for insects and other arthropods, part of a natural control system for ants, aphids, beetles, caterpillars, cicadas, and moths.

But catbirds eat more than crawling and hopping things. One of the young catbirds last Wednesday decided to explore our garage. When I stepped into the garage from the kitchen, the bird went into instant escape mode, P-A-N-I-C, which means up, up, and up—up to the ceiling, up over the rails, and up over the drive chains that open the doors—about a foot above the huge open door that spelled E-S-C-A-P-E.

I tried to help by pointing out the obvious, but the catbird wasn’t ready to accept human advice. After a few minutes I stopped giving directions and went about my business. An hour later when I next checked, the bird had found its way out.

But in the excitement of it all, the catbird apparently fell in love with Ellen’s new Subaru and decided to buy it. At least that’s what I think—because the catbird left a deposit on it—two in fact. And the deposits indicated the catbird had been eating Triple Crown blackberries from our berry patch.

I’m not an overly possessive blackberry grower. We have five plants that yield quart after quart. We’re willing to share a few berries—with friends, neighbors, and, we realize now, the catbirds too.

I’m thinking of posting a sign up in our garden: “Cat Birds, Please Make Yourself at Home and Eat All the Insects and Other Critters You Wish. But, Please, Eat Lightly in the Blackberry Patch. Thank You.”

Sing away, catbirds. Eat away, catbirds. You’re welcome at Meadow Glenn.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scratching the gardening itch

One of our demo gardeners emailed me after last week's workday to say she'd come down with an irritating rash on her forearms. She wondered if she'd found some poison ivy (which is possible) but also said she'd spent much of her time at the garden searching out and crushing squash bugs and their eggs.

This sounded kind of familiar from some of my gardening experiences, and I did a little searching around and found that, yes, the hairy leaves of squash can cause dermatitis in sensitive individuals. As can quite a number of other plants, in and out of the vegetable garden. Among the primary vegetable suspects are tomato, cucumber, garlic, peppers, spinach, okra, and members of the cabbage family. Parsnips and other carrot family members can cause photodermatitis, a reaction that involves sunlight. A long list of potential irritants, and definitions for the different sorts of allergic and non-allergic reactions, can be found here (PDF file).

This is not intended as medical advice so PLEASE call your doctor if you get a rash and it's bothering you. And take appropriate precautions (gloves, long sleeves) the next time you encounter the suspect plant. Most reactions are not serious - I wouldn't want anyone to be scared away from gardening! - but even if it's only a minor rash you don't want to be bothered with it more than once.

I've had a lot of itches myself this season (the heat doesn't help in the least) - will spare you photos but since my mom reads this I'll just tell her, Mom, I sure have the Chandler legs this summer!

Here's a more interesting photo: some of the squash bug eggs and different stages of nymph, so you know what to crush if you see them on your plants. Just make sure you wear gloves!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Solution for your summertime blues

Got the summertime gardening blues? No, not the blues from the 90°+ heat and the 85% humidity—but having too many blueberries.

Howard County Master Gardener Deborah Patton and her husband, Jim Akers, get so many blueberries from their three plants that they can’t eat them all fresh. They give some away and the rest—enough for at least 20 pies—go into their freezer.

“They’re so easy to freeze,” explained Deborah. “I spread them one deep on a rimmed cookie sheet, discarding any leaves, stems, or wrinkled berries. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours. When the berries are frozen, I measure them into plastic bags, one cup per bag. A pie takes five cups—five bags—so it’s easy.”

The three blueberries plants came with the property when Patton and Akers bought the historic, 1855 farmhouse seven years ago, so Deborah doesn’t know the specific varieties. “The first plant starts bearing in June, followed by the second plant. The third bears from mid-July through mid-September,” she said.

“Blueberries take a relatively low level of care,” Deborah said. “Jim has fertilized them once or twice with a low-pH azalea fertilizer. We get so many berries we really haven’t bothered to monitor the pH of the soil. We don’t need to spray for disease or insect pests. We should do annual renewal pruning resulting in 5 or 6 main stalks, but we’ve had so many berries we haven’t even done that.”

They also water with a soaker hose in dry weather. “Not enough water—smaller berries. More water—larger berries,” Deborah continued. “We put down sheets of newspaper and hardwood mulch to keep weeds under control.”

Critter problems? “Catbirds love blueberries, and a mockingbird thinks he owns the place,” she answered. To keep the birds out, they’ve surrounded the three plants with a structure made from 1” PVC pipe and covered with black bird netting they purchased at a farm-supply store.

“We cannot just throw the netting over our plants because they are too tall,” she said. “So we built the PVC cage. The upright pipes just slip into holes Jim drilled with an auger he bought at a local hardware store. All the PVC sections are connected with PVC connectors. We didn’t glue it all together because we take it down when we stop picking in September. It’s also important to close the bottom of the netting well or birds will sneak in under it.”

Bushes 1 and 2 have just about ended production for 2010. Bush 3 is covered with bunches of berries beginning to ripen.

“We eat them,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe how many blueberry recipes I have. We give some away. But the surplus goes into our freezer, and I bake somewhere between 20 and 40 pies each year and give them away as thank-you’s.” Eat your heart out, Hallmark Cards.

Secret of a great blueberry pie?

“Lemon zest and juice,” Deborah explained. “You’ve got to add some lemon.”

And, of course, you’ve got to freeze those extra summertime blues.

Additional information: If you want to learn more about blueberries and other small fruits, CLICK HERE to go to the University of Maryland Extension’s HGIC Publication 68, “Getting Started with Small Fruit.” The 4-page publication includes background information plus lists of varieties and a comment about each.
See recipe below in comments!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cool cucumbers

One of my fellow demo gardeners recently gave me a cookbook with lots of recipes for garden produce (thanks, Mary!). The author, Sheridan Rogers, lives in Australia, so some of the terminology in the book is different than what we use here. I was looking over one of the recipes and saw it called for "telegraph cucumbers."

What the heck is a telegraph cucumber, I wondered, and of course went straight to Google. Turns out it's what I think of as an English/European cucumber, the long thin kind that comes wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. This is to protect its thin skin. Several seed companies sell seed for Telegraph or Tall Telegraph cukes; I'm assuming the name has to do with long vines (like telegraph poles), as in the Tall Telegraph variety of pea. Telegraph/English cucumbers are among those grown in greenhouses, to extend the season. They are parthenocarpic: they do not need pollination to produce fruit, and the fruit is practically seedless.

I grew a parthenocarpic cuke, Eureka, in the demo garden this year, thinking it would be great to be able to leave it under a row cover to avoid pests. Unfortunately I didn't plan very well, and one of the plants was placed right next to a cuke that needed pollination, so that row cover had to come off. Besides, the covers were not roomy enough to allow for growth. I also have to master the art of covering a young plant and then getting it onto a trellis as soon as it's uncovered, before it gets too big and sprawling. Small plant cages that can be covered from the beginning might be the answer. Cucumbers resist disease better when they climb (although they sometimes produce less), and vertical growing also saves space.

The reason to cover cucumber plants is to limit the exposure to cucumber beetles. which feed on plants and also carry bacterial wilt, a disease that kills cucumbers pretty reliably, especially in the early summer. Some are striped, and some are spotted (different species). Here's a spotted cucumber beetle on a squash blossom (they also attack squash).

Unlike other plant pests such as potato beetles and squash bugs, cucumber beetles are hard to handpick because they move so fast. And, to quote William Woys Weaver on the pest, "Insecticidal soap only annoys them, and shouting does no good." If you don't want to spray your plants with pesticides to keep the beetles away, exclusion with row cover is one of the only choices. However, cucumber beetles are active into the summer months, so uncovered plants will continue to be vulnerable. One solution to this is succession planting of cucumbers: starting a new crop once a month or so, either in another location in the garden or in pots (to be transplanted later). This is something I always mean to do and don't always get to in practice (but I think I can squeeze another crop in this year).

Another pest deterrent that may help is growing onions and/or strong-scented herbs among the cucumbers.

I don't think I'll try growing telegraph cucumbers (until I get a greenhouse!) but it's fun to try other types beyond the many varieties of green slicer. Little pickling cukes, long bumpy East Asian kinds, round lemon cucumbers and other heirloom types, they all have virtues. We've been enjoying the Poona Kheera cukes this year (which are outproducing the Eurekas about ten to one). I like them better small, but the larger ones with brown skin are still sweet and tender, just with larger seeds.

The photo at the top shows part of one harvest: more mature Poona Kheera on the left, Eureka in the middle, smaller Poona Kheera on the right.

Like the Poona Kheera, cucumbers as a species originated in India, and there are many other varieties from that part of the world to try. Suggestions?