Just under a month ago we planted our cucumbers into their growbags and sat back smugly thinking that nowt would come of them. Why? Well, let's face facts: (1) the summer has been awful; so bad that allotment holders across the North have put their heads in waterbutts to scream and have a free hair wash (we have had plenty of rain, thank you), (2) the temperature has been down, then up, then down, then further down and then wearing a thick jumper indoors refusing to come out, and; (3) we have never, ever, grown cucumbers before and that always spells disaster, doesn't it?
Seems not, seems that blind ignorance and a watering can goes far this summer. Just ignore the rest of the garden; someone we know from the community group we work with wants to come and see our garden, he's going to phone us, come up and see what he probably thinks is a fully functioned micro-holding but summer, or a lack of it, has thrown an almighty spanner in the works for that. Out of a possible six beds we have on the go, one is effectively a no show and dead, another is simply sulking due to lack of heat (that's runner beans for you) and a third is happy but not cropping much. We dread the look on his face which will say, 'You write about this?' It's all been about the glasshouse (though the tomatoes are poor) and the herb garden this year (we have been growing squash and courgettes/zucchini in growbags there and they are loving it and cropping well but enough to preserve? No).
It's been the stone wall that has been soaking up the heat (what there is of it) during the day and letting it out at night that has given rise to plants that far exceed the courgettes/zucchini in the glasshouse. We've cropped some squash too but it is the cucumbers that have come into the house time after time for the last fortnight.
These little Paris Green cucumbers are sweet, and also capable of being pickled, if we have enough all at once and we can agree on a pickling recipe. Maybe we should approach all our plants with blind ignorance and a watering can. We should be honest here, we knew early on in July that this year was going to crash and burn, early summer had been poor, and we knew whatever was being grown undercover we had to get behind. So, we have fed these beauties each Friday (#feedingfriday) with comfrey feed along with everything else in the glasshouse. We have cropped the cucumbers at a good size, around 8 inches (approximately 20cm) and we have yet to get sick of them. However, we have fed our outdoor plants on a Friday too and they have not risen to the challenge as these cucumbers have. Will we grow them again? Yes. Will we know what we are doing? No. We know that they are supposed to be on netting according to one reader of this blog. We didn't do it, we simply let them scramble over our homemade staging. We were told to nip them out after we got around eight fruit set, we didn't, we've let them go and go. We were told to pollinate them by hand. We didn't. We were told the importance of misting them. We pointed the hose, with the mist head on (think powerful Huddersfield mist) and closed our eyes (a bit like walking around Huddersfield in the mist). Someone told us not to water them too often. We watered them every Friday. We didn't look in a book. We didn't follow advice. We simply thought, 'Sod it, grow or die, you bugger'. It's been that kind of year.