Monday, July 29, 2013

Cucumber stories: #4

Another cucumber story: there are plenty of gardeners whose gardening ambitions do not extend beyond tomatoes and a bit of basil.  For these gardeners, the tomato is the one plant worth growing, and many yearly pursue the goal of producing the first ripe tomato in the neighborhood. Some of these gardeners go to a lot of bother early in the season to get their tomatoes out early and then protect them from the frosts or even freezes which are likely to occur. This is not a new game, although the vegetable of choice has changed over the years. A bit over two hundred years ago, Gilbert White fussed in a similar way over his cucumbers: cucumbers were the tomato of the late eighteenth century English vegetable garden. Evidently, that the tomato might be palatable to persons of refined taste was unthinkable back then: if grown at all, the tomato grew in the ornamental garden, where its supposedly poisonous qualities paired in a moralistic way with the name love apple. White and his contemporaries went to a lot of trouble with hot beds made cucumber-cozy with manure, and they too celebrated the ripening of the first fruits of the season. 

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