This past spring I got lemon cucumber seeds from Botanical Interests to grow in my garden. I decided to try the lemon cucumber seeds chosen because I'd never eaten one of these cucumber varieties before. Due to a series of gardening setbacks, I may not get a chance to eat a lemon cucumber this year, but I'm enjoying growing them.
I started my cucumber seeds late and then pretty much neglected the seedlings and planted them out even later. By the time the cucumber vines were about 10 inches long they were covered in blossoms, but there weren't many bees working in the garden. I watched as the blossoms unfurled, then withered without any signs of fruit being set. I panicked and started to hand-pollinate them, which has worked marvelously. Take that, stupid bees.
Lemon cucumber blossom & leaf.
At some point last year I ran out of bamboo sticks to use as stakes in the garden and haven't gotten around to buying any more. So, I turned to my second favorite method of creating garden stakes. This lemon cucumber vine is container grown and climbing up a couple of dried allium stalks from my garden. Which reminds me to buy more alliums this fall for the garden. Alliums have great flowers, but I like the dried stalks the most for they remind me of fireworks.
One of my lemon cucumbers, a result of me taking pollinating into my own hands. It probably will not ripen in time, but I'm enjoying watching it develop along with all the smaller siblings on the cucumber vine.
I'm definitely going to grow lemon cucumbers in the garden next year and the year after that. Perhaps, the fact that I started mine so late have contributed to this, but I find them to be great candidates for a container garden because the vines aren't unruly. At only about five feet long the vine is flush with developing fruits, which leads me to believe it could easily be grown in small garden like a balcony or fire escape garden.
Lemon cucumbers aren't some crazy hybrid between lemons and cucumbers. The name for this weird vegetable is derived from the yellow, lemon-shaped fruit; which is said to be sweeter than regular cucumbers and not sour like the name or color would imply.
My lemon cucumber vine has withered down to virtually nothing, but the only cucumber that managed to form enough was harvested today.
I noticed the spines sort of lost their sharpness and were easy to rub off. The second thing I noticed about the cucumber was the two tones in the skin. I Don't think the photo does it much justice, but it was really "pretty" and shimmered in the sunlight kind of like a Christmas tree ornament.
Inside the cucumber looks like all other cucumbers you've seen, with the exception that this one is round. The power of suggestion seemed to influence how my taste buds reacted to the flavor. I would swear in a court of law that the lemon cucumber has a bit of a citrus taste, but nobody else I shared it with mentioned anything similar. What we all did say about it smelled like an average cucumber but these were definitely a lot sweeter. Next year I'll plant a whole bunch of these cucumbers. If you're interested in growing these you can buy the seeds from Botanical Interests, who supplied me with my pack to try.
If you're having problems with your cucumber plants because they are flowering but not producing fruit, see my post on How to Pollinate Cucumber Flowers.