One fruit that I haven’t grown for a while (and yes it is a fruit… if you red my last article on cucumber Telegraph Improved) are cucumbers. This year, I’m growing two types – the first being Telegraph Improved, which produces long slender fruits and Marketmore 76 which produces short stumpy fruit.
Cucumbers are a great stable to have in the kitchen and are more versatile than you think – I can’t wait to try out some new recipes. Marketmore is an outdoor variety, and I’ve seen similar fruits growing on the ground in Poland.
The cucumber is believed native to India, and evidence indicates that it has been cultivated in western Asia for around three thousand years. From India it’s believed that the Romans spread the fruit through to Greece and eventually Italy. The Romans were especially fond of the crop, and it soon moved into China. Cultivation of the cucumber appeared in France around the 9th century, England around the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century.
Marketmore 76 cucumbers seeds were introduced by Dr. Henry Munger at Cornell University and released in 1976. Hence the reason for the number. Sadly, I found out that Dr. Munger just passed away in 2010, but I’m sure his creations will live on for years to come.
Marketmore 76 is a good yielding, mid-season slicing cucumber for the home gardener. 8-9″ very dark green when mature. Nice flavor, smooth, straight and perfect for salads. Marketmore 76 vines bear over a longer period than most.
Marketmore 76 cucumbers are known as slicing cucumbers, which basically means they grow straight and have smooth, dark green skin. This type of cucumber usually have spines, but these spines rub off fairly easily.
Like I’ve said before, planting these kinds of seeds is easier than you think. Stick them in a pot and let them grow!
My quest to use up the old seeds that I’ve accumulated over the years has brought me to grow cucumber ‘Telegraph Improved’. I’ve grown cucumbers before in the past and stopped because I came to the conclusion that they needed quite a bit of water, which is great if you’re growing them at your home, a little bit trickier if you’re growing them at an allotment.
Cucumber ‘Telegraph Improved’, as the name suggests, is an improvement on the original Telegraph Long which is a fantastic English heirloom variety that’s been around since the late 1800s. Telegraph improved typically grown in greenhouses, so I’ll have to build a rudimentary frame to store these in, or keep them in my cold frame. All else fails, I’ve read that you can still grow these outside.
So I know what you’re thinking… If this is called improved – what’s the improvement. The improvement is lies in the vigor, quality of crop and the flavour.
Growing cucumbers from seed is easy, and unsurprisingly, is very similar to growing other fruits and veg from seed. You fill a pot with multi-purpose compost, push in the seeds about a knuckle deep, cover with compost and keep watered. That’s it. When the seedlings grow, separate into bigger pots when the seedlings grow another set of leaves.
With this particular set of seeds, I was surprised to find that it only contained a handful of seeds. Does this mean I’m going to be grow more cucumbers than I can handle? I’d love to find out what recipes I can cook up and find new and interesting things to do with a food item that’s basically 96% water.
Cucumbers are native to India and have been cultivated for thousands and thousands of years. It’s widely believed that the Romans spread cucumbers across the land. Cucumbers are even mentioned in the Bible and were available to the Egyptians. Click here for a great and interesting read on the history of cucumbers.
Now the big question on my mind is.. Is the cucumber a fruit or a vegetable? I know you can Google the answer but the debate is a lot more fun!