It may be too late but I think I might have to play Cupid for my cukes. In my over-zealous attempt to protect a handful of squirrel-surviving tomatoes, I netted their planter like Christo on a bad wrapping day. Problem is, it’s the same planter where I’m also growing cucumis sativus L. It’s true that, a week or so down the road, I still have tomatoes and they are (at last!) ripening (it’s August!) but meanwhile, the cucumber blossoms are snagged and hidden in the predator-proof web. How can the bees/flies/butterflies get to them? Back in L.A., I once rescued a hummingbird from similar webbing and swore that I would never use the stuff. But that was before ducks and squirrels (and it’s not like it’s illegal!) and I have yet to see a hummingbird around here. (Maybe they’re all trapped in everybody’s bird netting.)
Meanwhile, where are my cucumbers? And if I wanted to, um, assist them in their normally unassisted acts of pollination, how exactly would I go about that? Vague drawings from high school (not that class!) passed before my eyes…stamen, pupil, pollen, of course. I knew, again vaguely, that some plants could self-pollinate and others needed neighboring plants and Carole Deppe (always practical) has some tips on keeping your pumpkins pure of seed by pollinating them yourself and taping them up afterward. (Bees, et. al. being notoriously promiscuous pollen-spreaders, of course.) In the case of pumpkins, apparently you get male and female flowers—the males appear first to lure the pollinators to the general area (hey, big bee guy!) and then, the stage set, the candles lit, the iPod playing, the female blossom…okay, I think I need a cigarette.*
But what about my tzatziki?!!!**
My mom (not bragging, just saying) told me last week how much she enjoyed her fresh, home-grown cucumbers in a fresh, home-made cucumber salad, freshly picked from her fresh, fully-ready crop. ***
It’s probably time to do what I dislike having to do (but end up doing half the time anyway), going on-line and seeing what the parts of a cucumber plant are and then trying to work it out from there.
Of course, I better make sure I clear history on my browser. Wouldn’t want anyone to know what pictures I was looking at on the Internet!
*Just kidding. I don’t even smoke!
**A delicious and healthy Greek dip made with cucumbers. Of course.
***I guess we could call this cucumber envy but don’t worry I won’t.
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes