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The Cucumber Conundrum

August 2, 2012

A lot is happening in terms of growth (and eating) in the greenhouse. The plants are now enormous and have completely taken over, while the resident slugs and snails, though unwelcome, continue to make their way into the greenhouse to eat the plants’ leaves and blossoms.

I love observing this growth, though maneuvering around the plants with a hose in hand for watering, whilst trying not to damage the plants, has become a cu-cumbersome task.

The cucumbers (on the right) have been growing since May and have, until today, taken over the stone walkway. A bit of an issue, though one that can easily be resolved.

It never occurred to me to redirect their growth, until I had nowhere to walk.

Ta-da! The path has been cleared. I suggest doing this BEFORE things get out of hand as it was not easy trying to untangle the beautiful mess of cucumbers. Their tendrils wrapped around the peppers and hanging tomatoes. The snails and slugs were definitely in paradise since it became increasingly difficult to find them beneath the ever increasing number of heart-shaped leaves.

Awww, look at the little baby (cucumber). Though adorable, they have not seen much growth. Why? Because there are no bees to pollinate the little lassies. To remedy the situation, we’ve resorted to hand pollination.

A cucumber plant has both male and female flowers. The female flower has a tiny cucumber growing behind it (which, sadly, is missing, most likely due to a slug!), while the male does not.  (For images and more information on identifying cucumbers.)

A Q-Tip being put to great use. We gathered some of the pollen from the male…

…and transferred it to the female.

Despite doing this, the minuscule cucumbers have yet to grow. WHY? Perhaps the male flowers need to be removed, or more frequent hand pollination needs to happen.

One thing I do know is that I want to built a cucumber trellis outdoors next year!  This would provide the plant with something with which to wrap its tendrils around, and the bees would pollinate the female flowers. Less work for me!

Look how amazing that is. I did not take this picture, by the way. You can read all about how to make a cucumber trellis here. This is an easy DIY project that anyone can take on. Go for it.

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