Thursday, July 10, 2008

First Cucumber

Tuesday we harvested our first cucumber!

It’s an heirloom variety of pickling cucumber and mom discovered why some cucumbers are advertised as “spineless” because ours certainly isn’t. After I knocked the spines off with the back of a knife, and it had been cut into four equitable portions, we sampled the first real fruits of this year’s labors (with the exception of some herbs and puny snow peas). The flavor was…surprisingly blah. The flesh was cucumbery (which would sound silly if it wasn’t for the flavorless cucumber shaped vegetables they are passing off at supermarkets) but the skin was bitter. We’ll also probably never have enough at any one time to pickle them so it’s off to a local farm to buy our pickling cucumbers this year. Despite this our excitement was such that the cucumber got its own half hour photo shoot so that we would have lasting evidence of its fleeting existence.

We actually planted cucumbers out of desperation for something not in the nightshade family to rotate in our containers (which have previously had mostly tomatoes). Although we have a generous half acre most of it is shaded by oak trees that we are too poor to cut down. Ironically the only part of the property that remains sunny is our driveway. So our only real option was to start a container garden next to the garage. The containers include a few new ones but most either came with the property, were donations from neighbors, or are fairly old. The new ones are usually the ones we have to add every year to avoid repeating nightshades in the same pot more than once in three years. This year we have cucumbers, squash, carrots, one lone cranberry bean, rosemary, green and purple basil, parsley, Thai chili peppers, tomatoes, chives, radishes and salad greens.

Although everything is doing fairly well, one mystery remains: why is my purple basil turning green? Is it some sort of trick so they can get you to pay extra for the fancy purple basil, only to find out when you get home that it was really green basil in disguise? It may sound trivial but I really only bought this variety for the color, I have a recipe for a green Thai curry soup that calls for purple basil as a garnish and it looks just amazing (at least in the cookbook, I’ve yet to try it, that’s why I had to buy the purple basil). So, does anyone know why this happens? I’ve heard the same complaint from other people, is it too much sun or too little? Does it need more water? Or perhaps a monetary sacrifice to the gods of the local nursery to reverse the curse placed upon it when I bought it ($4.25 for a freaking plant, you’d think it would at least stay the same color!)?


  1. I'm having the same problem with my purple basil. It's still a young plant, but there are hints of green coming in!

    Thanks to google, I did just find out why this is happening. I found this in an article on

    "Depending on the cultivar, the [Purple Basil] plant will often revert to green. One way to prevent this is to remove any green shoots as soon as they appear. If left to its own devices, such a plant will eventually become all green."

  2. Thanks that answers my question!Although it may be too late for this plant, which is atleast half green now, its good to know since I bought the purple basil because I wanted it to be purple, not green! I have lots of green basil already! I may just have to spend another 4.25 at my local garden shop and try again next year. And it seems like it really should come with its own warning label. "Warning: basil only temporarily purple."
    I hope you have better luck then me, you'll have to punish it early to prevent such insubordination.