Saturday 30 June 2012

The first cucumber of the year

Last year my cucumbers were a dismal failure. I grew the outdoor variety "Marketmore", which had done well for me the previous year. In 2011 I got only one cucumber fruit, and it was small and bitter. This year I have tried a different approach. I have gone for "Iznik", a so-called cocktail style of cucumber (also known as the Lebanese cucumber). This type grows on small plants and produces small fruits - about 5 or 6 inches long, as opposed to the "normal" 12-inch ones.

Never having grown this type before I was unsure about when to pick them, but fortunately the seed packet had a good illustration on it, and I used this as my guide.

Here's Jane modelling the first Iznik fruit...

And here's a more scientific indication of its size. You can see that it measured approximately just over 4"  - let's say 11cm.

We ate this cucumber literally as a cocktail fruit. I sliced it into quarters lengthways and we ate these dipped into salt, alongside a drink before dinner. It was really nice: firm and crunchy; not too many seeds; not indigestible. I think I can afford to let the next ones get a little bit bigger though, but at least I now know what to expect.

The fruit I harvested came from a plant that looks far from healthy (on the right in the photo above), but the second plant, raised much later, (left) looks better, so there is reasonable hope of more fruits to come. Actually the older plant already has 5 more tiny fruits developing.

You can probably guess from the tripod support arrangement that I installed that I had originally planned to have three plants in that tub, since they were never likely to get very big. There were only six seeds in the packet I bought, and I sowed them all. One rotted before germination, and three more died before reaching maturity. These were expensive F1 seeds so I can't save my own for another try next year. Can anyone recommend a good non-F1 Lebanese cucumber that is available in the UK?

Some other good news:

This week I was invited to submit the details of my blog for the Achica Blog Awards 2012 competition, which is being judged on 12 July. This is a great competition for bloggers representing 7 different categories (including Gardening, and Food and Drink).The winners of each category win a prize worth £500 and the opportunity to shoot to fame by writing a guest post on the high profile and very smartly-produced website. For those of you who don't know, this is how they describe themselves:

"ACHICA is the UK's first members-only home and luxury lifestyle store where members can enjoy luxury brands combined with excellent value for money. Members can save up to 70% off RRP on leading Home, Lifestyle, Fashion, Food and Drink, Art and Object, Childrenswear and Nursery and Travel, through 48 and 72 hour promotions, with many well-known and new exciting brands included."

The top three blogs in each category (as judged by a panel of experts) go forward to a public vote, so if (IF...) I get through to that stage, I hope I will be able to count on your vote! :)

The winners will be announced on Friday 20th July.


  1. That size of cucumber would be ideal for us as there's only me who eats it. I have tried growing them a couple of times without success so I'm trying the normal sized ones again this year, though the plants are still really small. F1 cucumber seeds can be really expensive, and as you say, you only get a few in the packet, so I usually buy mine in the Wyevale sale for 50p per packet. Good luck with the competition, you can count on my vote.

  2. Mark, congratulation! My cucumbers didn't do well this year. I guess I planted it too late and also on one side got all one gender. Being this hot, nothing will grow for about 2 months. I am taking a brake from gardening and will plant back in August. Wish me luck, maybe I'll have fall cucumbers. :)

  3. It's amazing how cucumbers often produce on the seediest looking plants. Maybe the survival instinct kicks in with a ' may be dying must produce seed' attitude.

  4. I tried cucumbers last year and failed. I didn't bother this year. Good luck with your competition. You can count on my vote.

  5. I'm still waiting for my first cucumber. Last year I was disappointed by the variety. In the past I had grown an F1 that was expensive and had run out of seeds (I bought in bulk one yer). I did like it, but so expensive. So I'm trying two more. I only grow pickling cukes though. I like them for eating just as much as the slicing cukes so they are duel purpose in my garden.

  6. I usually get a few cucumbers but am not going to get any this year. They will be missed.

  7. The first pick is always exciting isn't it. Nice looking cucumbers. Sometimes ones this size are just enough.

  8. Nice cuke! Can non UK readers vote in a UK only competition? Being from Chicago, I'll even vote twice! ;)

  9. Good luck with the competition, you have a great blog!
    It's so rewarding to harvest something grown for the first time; your cucumber looks perfect. I hope you get lots more. (Maybe we'll get some sun n July which will help!).
    Your potatoes in your last post looked well cooked and served up. I can't wait to harvest one of my bag grown potato, in another week or two.

  10. My cucumbers were disastrous last year as well - I normally grow 'Petita' which is a half-size all female cucumber. This year because of the failure of all my seeds I bought a grafted one that produces full length cukes. There are two ready to pick and loads more on the way. The outdoor cuke is a non-starter - it hasn't grown since I planted it out. You win some - you lose some eh!

  11. your blog gets my vote no contest

  12. Last year was an atrocious year for cucumbers. Hopefully this year is better for all of us. Maybe try Daphne's suggestion and grow pickling cukes. We use them as slicers and eat more that way than as pickles.

  13. I grow Lebanese cucumbers too - great aren't they? I find them perfect for just about everything. Even though they're F1 hybrid it might be worth trying the seeds I've had them come true from other plants in the past , although admitedly its usually been tomatoes - I haven't tried an F1 cucumber before.

  14. I grew green gem(poinsetta) cucumber for 2 years in the row and did well. Moreover it produces earlier than my other cucumber varieties growing at the same time. This cucumber look similar to marketmore. Good Luck on the competition!


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