Harvest of the Month – August – Cucumbers!!!
Written by Melissa Vigdor
What is the Cucumber?
Cucumbers are long, green vegetables with smooth skin. Belonging to the Curcubitaceae family, the same plant family as melons and squashes, cucumbers are one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Cucumbers were originally discovered in India over 4,000 years ago and quickly spread into Greece, Rome, Europe, and China. The European colonists eventually brought the cucumber to the United States in the 1500’s and it has been well-loved ever since.
What is not to love about the cucumber? At just 15 calories in 1 cup, no cholesterol and no saturated fat, much of the cucumber is made up of water. The free-water content, high potassium level and low sodium create a diuretic effect that helps slow weight gain and stabilize blood pressure. Cucumbers are also high in vitamin K and the peel is a good source of fiber.
How to Grow Cucumber
As with most vegetables, cucumbers may begin as seedlings indoors during the cooler months or seeds may be planted
directly into the garden once the soil warms up. Indoor seedlings should be planted an inch deep in paper cups a month before the final frost and transplanted once the frost has passed. Cucumbers grow on a vine, which can climb up a trellis or lie on the ground. Using a trellis is a great way to save space in your garden.
Once your cucumber vine begins to flower, cucumbers will form at the base of the flowers. It is important to note that the first flowers will not bear fruit because they are male. However, the second round of female flowers will produce cucumbers and the vines will continue to produce cucumbers from new blossoms for several months.
Keep in mind that the cucumber plant can get very big and take of the garden so give it lots of space. It even climbs up my tomato trellises and wraps itself around the tomato plants.
Harvesting and Storage
To harvest your cucumbers, use a knife or scissors to remove them from the vine. Avoid pulling them directly off the plant because it can cause damage. If your cucumbers turn yellow, cut them off the vine and discard them: you have waited too long to harvest them.
Once picked, cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator. If you intend on storing them longer than a week, the only way to keep them fresh is to pickle them.
Negative Calorie Cucumber Chips and Salsa by Christie Salbaugh from Zero Calorie Life
• 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced diagonally
• 1/2 sweet onion, diced
• 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• 2 garlic cloves minced
• 1 jalapeno, diced (can add or reduce according to your heat preference)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• In a small bowl, mix together the onion, tomatoes, cilantro, minced garlic and jalapeno. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
• Place your sliced cucumbers on a plate and top with salsa and serve. I garnished my plate with cilantro, but it is not necessary.