Cucumbers by the Truckload

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By Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

The Armenian cucumber is actually a variety of muskmelon and like other types of muskmelon, it is native to Armenia (a former republic of the Soviet Union.) We have several small plantings of these exuberant cucumbers (also called Painted Serpents) and the yields have been phenomenal.

This is one of the best slicing cucumbers we grow. It is crisp, mild and has soft seeds. Because we have so many of them at the moment, visitors to the farm often see us munching on one, straight out of the cooler, where they are piling up in alarming quantities. They are quite delicious this way, but also good as a summer salad, sliced up and sprinkled with salt. You can dress them with oil and vinegar, or a bit of yogurt.

Many farmers, taking some of the ups and downs out of the farming roller coaster, figure out in advance what they will grow in their season, how much they might expect to harvest, and where they will sell it. Many crops lend themselves to this approach and the careful farmer will make arrangements with buyers well in advance, even predicting the time that the crop will be delivered.

Not so at Full Belly, and in particular, not so with our Armenian cucumbers this year. Perhaps the Armenian Cucumber market is still in development! One Saturday afternoon, I observed one of our beat-up pick-ups backing up to the shop. This crew had abandoned our practice of harvesting into boxes, and instead had harvested the cucumbers into a huge bin which they  unloaded so that we could find a place in the cooler for yet another load of cucumbers.

Minutes after that truck had pulled out another one pulled in, this time the crew that manages the irrigation. In their truck they had 25 more big boxes of Armenian cucumbers, and they announced this to everyone within earshot.

One mystery is, how did the Armenian cucumbers find their way into the hands of our irrigation crew? Are they really proliferating so abundantly? The other mystery is, how will we find homes for them? Like any roller coaster, the peak will surely be followed by a dip in yields, but for now, perhaps it helps if we all eat as many as possible...


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