Tuesday 19 June 2012

Doubling-up the Cucurbits

I don't think it will be a good year for Cucurbits in the UK - again. Mine are looking weary already. Because of the awful weather they have had to struggle just to survive. Several weeks ago I was beginning to suspect that this would be the case, so I sowed some more seeds as a backup. At the weekend I planted out the second set of plants. A second cocktail cucumber "Iznik" has joined its big brother in the tub on the patio:

Iznik is a miniature variety, described on the seed packet as "...quite happy in a 7" - 9" pot and equally happy in a porch or conservatory". Well, it's out of luck there then, since I have neither porch nor conservatory, but at least I have given it plenty of room in that massive tub. And the height of the tub edge above the soil surface provides a bit of protection from the incessant wind. Some fruits are already forming on the bigger plant, despite the rather sickly appearance of its leaves.

The cucumbers are going to be short squat ones about the size of a fat banana I think.

The first cucumber to form is very low down on the plant so I have protected it from the damp soil with a piece of broken terracotta pot, which will hopefully prevent it rotting. I wish it was a bit greener...

Meanwhile, in another massive tub languishes the "Autumn Crown" squash and its recently-added companion, a "Patty Pan" squash.

The Autumn Crown is the sole survivor of the stingy 6 seeds in the packet I bought. "F1 seed is very expensive and should be handled carefully", moans the seed supplier. At least it is now producing some flower buds, though the plant itself looks far from healthy.

I was inspecting the plant closely, and I saw on it this tiny Ladybird, mostly black, with a few red spots.

Since we're now talking about Ladybirds, what about this very attractively-attired one, perched on a bean-pole:

Again, it was very tiny, so I've done a zoomed-in photo to show it off more clearly.

Finally, here's one of the "Butterbush" squashes. Correction: two of the Butterbush squashes. I knew that this was supposed to be a compact variety, but I hadn't expected it to be that compact!

The one I planted out on Saturday day is furthest from the camera. At least it looks a tad greener than the one that has been so-called "growing" for the past N weeks...

How are your cucumbers / squashes doing??

On a more positive note, I see that the Purple-podded Desiree peas are now beginning to form pods - and (Surprise! Surprise!) they are purple...

How can something that beautiful be edible as well??


  1. Back ups were a really good idea. I may have to try that myself. We have had a lot of super hot weather already this year and it is hitting my cukes pretty hard.

  2. I direct-seeded my cukes so they are still small. Diva and Summer Dance are sitting there, looking a little pale. I had to re-seed Summer Dance after something ate half. But the Jackson Classic pickling cukes are starting to grow and are a deep green. Still, I expect more of last year: bacterial wilt and lots of mildew. Makes the few cucumbers you do get taste that much sweeter.

  3. It has been a hard June here as well. Supposedly it is the coolest June in over 30 years here. But that ought to break starting tomorrow. Maybe mid to high 90Fs (around mid 30Cs). I'm not looking forward to it, but I'm sure my summer plants are.

  4. I agree with you about the Cucumbers. I sowed 30 indoors earlier this year which were doing well until planted out. I'm down to 7 now due to the varying weather conditions. They are Ridge types which normally survive a bit of abnormal weather. Nice Ladybird pictures.

  5. Love the photos of your little ladybugs! Looks like you will have a good crop of cukes.

  6. your peas flowers are so pretty. Having never grown the purple variety I thought all peas flowers would be white. Your cucumbers are not that bad looking,really! I hope the temperatures really picks up there in UK.

  7. We had no survivors from our packet of Autumn Crown and none from Crown Prince either.

  8. I've doubts about this year being a good cucurbit year as well. My first challenge was poor germination in April but after re-sowing much better success rates. I have patty pan squash I recently planted into a tub so I can keep an eye on it and protect it from gales. Pumpkin Jack O Lantern was a plant of pure beauty until I planted it outside and the wind and rain has proved abusive. Courgettes, well, again the wind and rain isn't to their liking. And my butternut squash is looking doubtful. June weather has been very bad.

  9. Those peas are beautiful. For some reason I have never had success growing cucumbers. And I thought they were easy. But not for me. Hope your weather improves.

  10. I didn't get any of my Blue Kuri squash to germinate, but the rest have done ok. I've planted a couple of courgettes out, but everything else is still waiting.

  11. Cool ladybirds - i like the mostly black one very much. And the colour of your pea is lovely.

  12. The purple pea is lovely! I wonder if it will lose that pigment if heated

    1. David, I think that the pods would lose the colour if cooked. Actually I am led to believe that the peas inside are green as normal, and it is only the pods that are purple - which is a shame because purple peas really would be something special!

  13. I'm in the same predicament as you with the squashes and cucumbers - they are pretty pathetic and, like you, think it is going to be another rubbish year for them - but your other veg seems to be doing alright - as it mine - so that's something to be thankful for.

  14. I've already eaten one of our cucumbers and there are plenty more ready soon. Okay, okay, I cheated and bought 2 plants AND they are in the greenhouse. They seem to be on top form.
    I still haven't planted out the pumpkins/squashes and fruits are forming, so I'll have to put them in the ground speed haste.
    Courgettes are healthy and I've harvested 2 yesterday.

  15. I found your blog while searching for information on PicMonkey. Who knew that I'd find gardening information? So glad I did! I think my summer is behind yours (Minnesota) but so far my cucumber plants and zucchini plants look okay. They did not do well last year but the weather was bad for most gardeners here. I'm hoping this year is better.

    Great blog! I'll be back.

  16. I hope the weather gets better and your cucrbit will bounce back.


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