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Cukes or Pickles
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By Helena Smrcek

Numbers 11:5 "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone.”

This was the summer of our oversees girls’ trip; my niece was getting married. My daughter was excited, I felt a little reluctant. What about my garden?

I picked, froze and canned all that I could, anticipating difficulties. Before we headed to the airport, I walked the men through my green patch and explained everything. They got it. Two days into our adventure I logged into Skype. The garden was fine, my husband assured me. When I inquired about the pickles, he asked where exactly did I plant them.

A little concerned, I explain, once again, the simple layout of my two cucumber rows. First four plants on each side are regular cucumbers, the next four English cucumbers, anything after that, on both sides, are pickles.

The next day I got a text from my son:

Please explain to dad that pickles and cucumbers are the same thing.
They aren’t. I replied.
Yes, they are!

A short lesson on pickling followed, including a Wikipedia link, and a picture of a cucumber plant. My twenty-year-old was lecturing me on canning?

Thankful for my phone package, to be used in emergency, such as this one, I dialled my husband.

“Tell him they are not the same,” I blurted, aware of the fleeting minutes.
“They are. He researched it on the Internet.”
I need a clear analogy. “It’s like apple trees.”
“Like yellow and red apples. Both grow on apple trees. Different ones.”
“What does that have to do with cucumbers?” He sounded impatient.
“Never mind. Did you pick them? They need to be smaller than your thumb.”
“I didn’t see any.”
“Did you look under the leaves?”
“What do you mean?”

At this point I understood that pickles may not be happening this year. Perhaps it’d be better for our marriage if I didn’t bring up cucumbers in our conversations, ‘till I got home.

Right after I unloaded my bags, I rushed to the garden. It definitely missed me. Weeds, massive zucchinis, and tomatoes screamed for my attention. Then I saw the pickles. Huge cucumbers, of all kinds, hung from far reaching plants, ready to burst.

“You didn’t see any?” I asked as I grabbed empty bushels from the garage.

The cucumber harvest came in strong this year, and I pickled, made relish, froze cucumber juice, grated, sliced, and pickled some more for the entire week. In the process I discovered a great jet leg remedy – giant pickles.

I have three buckets fermenting in the basement, and there are at least two more bushels patiently waiting on the plants, but who is complaining. Last year I had to replant all my frozen cucumber plants, only to find out that the nursery mislabelled the pots, and my garden was overrun by peppercorn squash.

So bring it on, cucumber plants, pickles and all, we leave no cuke behind. This is what farming is about, if you pray for the harvest, you better be ready when it comes.