Cool facts about cukes

I’m always interested in unusual things to do with gardening and this week I have found a few that may bring a smile.

Although they need water to grow peas are fussy as they don’t like too much. Potatoes don’t like tomatoes or cucumbers but tomatoes love peas and carrots.. however potatoes and cabbage are friends. Do not plant beans with onions or beets. They don’t like each other… but beans love carrots, onions, cabbage and potatoes but cabbage doesn’t like radishes. Beans and cucumbers aren’t friends but carrots and onions get along well.

If you’re not confused now you should be…I am!! Worse than a class full of children with their likes and dislikes!!

However companion planting does work, so it might be a good idea to apply some of these things when planning your garden beds. Marigolds not only make garden beds look pretty they help to keep bugs at bay and your plants healthier and many other herbs help to repel pests.

Some other fun facts I discovered this week relate to cucumbers.

China produces 76 per cent of the world’s cucumber and gherkins. In 2010 worldwide production was 57.5 million tonnes, with 40.7 million tonnes grown in China. I didn’t do the calculation so I hope it is correct!

They are members of the Curcurbitaceae family which includes watermelons, pumpkins and gourds.

Like tomatoes, they are actually a fruit but used as a vegetable.

Cucumbers originate from south-east Asia, contain only 16 calories, are 95 per cent water and can grow up to 2 feet long!

They have been grown and consumed for a very long time. They appear to have first been grown in India around 3000BC!!

Columbus is said to have taken cucumbers to Haiti in 1494 and so started their spread to the “new world”.

David Thomas is credited with growing the world’s heaviest cucumber weighing in at 12.9kg at the Malvern Autumn Show in Worcestershire in the UK on September 26th 2015.

The phrase “cool as a cucumber” may have come about because the internal temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature.

Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins and minerals we need each day, being a good source of vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 and vitamin C. Folic acid, Calcium and Iron plus Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc are also in their make-up.

They contain enough B vitamins, sugars and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients lost if you’ve had a heavy night, restoring equilibrium and helping to prevent a headache or hangover. Being tea total I have never had need of this cure, but, I’m told, if you can manage to eat a few slices before you retire for the night, it actually works and you will wake headache-free!

If your bathroom mirror is annoyingly steamed up after your shower, rub it over with a slice of cucumber and it will prevent it from happening next time.

Chemicals in cucumbers react with aluminium and give off a scent, undetectable to us, but hated by bugs and slugs and other garden pests. So, if you put a few slices of cucumber in an aluminium pie dish in your garden, it will be pest-free… that sounds like a simple and organic solution worth a try. Snails and slugs are a continuing and huge problem in my garden.

No polish handy for your shoes? Rub a cut cucumber over them to provide a good shine and also make them water repellent. Got a squeaky hinge? Rub it with a slice of cucumber and the squeak will be gone! Rub stainless steel, taps, sinks, saucepans, etc. for an effective, streak-free, “green” cleaner.

Pureed cucumber applied to sunburn will give almost instant relief.

If the kids get creative with pens or crayons on the walls, cucumber will also remove that also.

And here I was thinking they were only a welcome addition to the salad or an ingredient in pickles!!

I have a favourite recipe of long-standing given to me very many years ago by an old friend whose main ingredients are crushed pineapple and cucumbers. I make it each year and it is especially good with corned meat.

Don’t forget the Gardening Extravaganza in St Mary’s Hall during Jumpers and Jazz in July!