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Inspired by Monticello

May 31st, 2011

Last week I was getting ready to plant my cucumbers and was contemplating what kind of supports I wanted to use. The last two years I have used bamboo stakes and they have never been quite long enough or quite sturdy enough. As I was standing in the garden thinking, I remembered my visit to Monticello last summer. I took a lot of photos of the various forms of plant supports because I loved how they used natural materials.

Since we’re clearing out that new garden, I have more than enough saplings and small trees for using at plant supports. I cut 12 small trees and made 3 structures for my cucumbers. I planted one variety of cucumber on each trellis. I planted 4 seeds at the base of each leg and I will let the 3 best ones grow.

In previous years I’ve only grown one type of pickle ‘Boston Pickling’. I’ve always been happy with it, but this year I wanted to try a few others. The varieties of cucumbers I’m growing for the 2011 season:

Solly Beiler – This cucumber makes superior pickles when harvested at about the size of your thumb. Spectacularly productive in our trials, the plants yield very uniform fruits, which at full maturity are russeted like a Poona Kheera. Stays crisp and mild even at larger sizes. Developed in the 1930’s by Solomon “Solly” Beiler, then a bishop in the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Our original seed was furnished by Martin J. Hughes, a present day member of the same church in Elmira, New York (source: Baker Creek)

Fin de Meaux – Slender, little green fruit are picked when 2 inches long and are used to make delicious cornichon pickles. A popular French variety that is hard to find. Very productive plants bear fruit that is darker green than most types. (source: Baker Creek)

Boston Pickling – Plant produces heavy yields of small 6″ long pickling type cucumbers. This variety has been grown by home gardeners for generations. Perfect for making pickles, but also good in salads. Harvest cucumbers when they are 2″ to 6″ long. (source: originally from Baker Creek but they longer carry them)

The square around the base of each trellis is probably about 4 foot by 4 foot. In the middle of each square I seeded a variety of lettuces in decorative squares. I thought the shade provided by the cucumber vines would help keep the lettuce a little cooler.

I don’t grow any eating cucumbers as neither Mr Chiots or I eat them. Cucumbers give me indigestion, even the burpless variety, so I’ve never really enjoyed eating them. I do make a variety of pickles, from sweet to fermented dill and I’m certainly looking forward to stashing lots of pickles in the pantry to winter eating!

Do you grow pickling cucumbers, regular cucumbers, or both? What varieties do you grow?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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