I suffer from “have-to-have-it” horticulturist syndrome – usually brought on by reading or seeing an unusual plant. I first read about lemon cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) last year but it was too late in the year to start them. This year, I started a few from seed from Renee’s Garden, an online source of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. Lemon cucumber is an old plant, an heirloom, with fruit that are cucumbers botanically speaking but look like inflated lemons. They are light yellow and are not supposed to taste like lemons but are supposed to be sweeter or less bitter than regular cucumbers. I have never eaten one but my regular cucumbers tend to get bitter because I cannot keep even moisture levels so the theory is that lemon cucumbers will solve all of my problems.My plan was to have the vine veggies, the cucumbers and the pole beans, wind up together on two wooden door frames, the French door types with spaces for glass. Last year, I bought several from Rebuild Warehouse in Springfield, Virginia, for a few dollars, sans glass of course. Rebuild Warehouse has building materials or home appliances that can be recycled, including garden items. You can get a lot of useful structures for the garden very cheaply – check it out.
I was going to attach two frames to the wooden railing along the garden bed, but then the top rail of the fence broke off (which kid sat on it?) and one of the door frames broke so I only had one. We tied the one door frame, long side, to the wooden railing with twine. I planted only a few lemon cucumber and pole bean seedlings in May, after last frost.
It is mid-July and if I did not tell you I had planted pole beans, you would have never known they were there. The lemon cucumber plants are taking over the garden bed, threatening to run over the beans, peppers, eggplants, and lettuces. So many bees swarm over the bright yellow flowers that I have to carefully pick the other vegetables, hoping I don’t get stung.
I was so surprised at how large the lemon cucumber plants were getting that I looked at the seed packet again and noticed (maybe for the first time) “vigorous.” The word does not do it justice. This is more of a hostile takeover but I love the vigor. Anything that healthy has to be good and anything that healthy will be kept in check with the first frost.
I look forward to picking the fruit; a few are a few inches long already. Lemon cucumbers can be eaten fresh or pickled and I suspect the novelty shape and color will attract kids. If I get as many fruit as there are flowers, I may be bringing some to the garden club. So far, lemon cucumbers are a success but will let you know more at the end of the year.