Friday, August 27, 2021

Boston Pickling Cucumber

For the spring of 2020, I grew out the Boston Pickling Cucumber in spring of 2020 just to see how it would perform.

Overall, the Boston Pickling Cucumber grew well. They produced relatively easily, though the pollination was not as good as I would have preferred.

While I am not a pickling person, I would say that the Boston Pickling cucumber would probably do pretty well in a more moderate climate.

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Ashley Cucumber Exceeds Expectations

Once the raised bed gardens were set up and filled with soil, I began to plant cucumbers. Many of these varieties I were completely new to me, so I wanted to learn more about them. The first variety that I thought I would focus on is Ashley.


The Ashley cucumber is a straight regular American-style cucumber variety that performed very well for me. The first couple fruits that were produced by Ashley were very poorly pollinated. 



Once the fruit was pollinated properly, the color of Ashley began to come through. I really like the way the fruit has bands of light color in a star-like shape that develops from the flower end of the cucumber and works its way up the fruit. The shape of the fruit was also very consistent - a real plus for an open-pollinated cucumber variety. The fruit not only looks good, but was pretty bitter-free. I really enjoyed it.

Generally, Ashley is a very consistent producer that brings out the best of American-style cucumbers while still offering something a little different. If given the opportunity, I would definitely grow Ashley again.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Thoughts about Orientation of Cucurbit Seed

While I don’t believe that which way a seed is oriented matters when one is dealing with fresh healthy vigorous seed, I do believe that it is a very important factor when planting weaker cucurbit seeds. I have found that the problem with the majority of weak/older seed is that they have trouble shedding their hard outer seed coat. Planting the seed with the radicle facing downward only exacerbates the problem.

The seedlings emerge from the soil, unable to push their seed coats off and eventually die from being starved from the inability to photosynthesize because the seed coats are now dry and the struggling seedling has to push it off without having anything secure the outer covering to pull out from it. After presprouting cucumber seed, I prefer orienting seeds with the radicle facing up at a 45 degree angle, with soil compacted on top of the opposite side of the radicle, so that when the root emerges from the seed and the seedling attempts to remove its leaves from its outer covering, the seed coat is lodged firmly in place so the seed can pull out from it.

Orienting my seeds this way has provided me with a much higher survival rate and much earlier root emergence-to-photosynthesis-time than other methods.
I have included a picture to illustrate my thoughts with the left side with illustrations of what I have observed when orienting seeds with the radicle facing downward and the right side with illustrations based on what I have observed when having the radicle facing up at an angle and with soil compacted onto the opposite side to lodge the harder seed coat in the soil.

I would love to run an experiment with a batch of very consistent fresh seed to see if I can provide hard evidence to an advantage in the time required to have the seedling shed its seed coat. I believe that, without the presence of light the majority of the seeds will sprout at an angle rather than straight down and that the angle at which they sprout enables them to have a physical advantage in leveraging the seedling's first leaves out of the seed coat.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Family Steps it Up

As the pandemic set in, my little cucumber seed business really picked up. Orders went from five orders per week to 30 or more orders per day. The amount of time this required from me made it so that I couldn’t really spend time doing anything else other than my regular job and my seed business. In order to ensure that I have time to do other things in my life and go to bed at a decent hour, my family generously provided me with needed assistance.

The family helped to make the generic seed packets, prepare all the mailing envelopes and fill seed packets of the most commonly purchased cucumber varieties.

I did all that I could to be a good manager, while still being respectful and grateful for the help.