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Garden Lifestyle

Happy New Year of the Cucumber

The National Garden Bureau has christened 2014 as “The Year of the Cucumber,” selecting this edible for recognition in its annual program.

Plan to celebrate "The Year of the Cucumber" with 'Silver Slicer', a creamy white cucumber developed at Cornell University, with the help of a national network of organic growers.
Photo/Illustration: National Garden Bureau

There’s a thick layer of snow covering the vegetable bed and the thermometer reads a frosty 8 degrees. Still, I can’t get the phrase, “Cool as a cucumber” out of my head.

It’s going to be a while before I can plant any cucumber seeds in the garden, but I’m already thinking ahead. The National Garden Bureau’s (NGB) announcement that 2014 is The Year of the Cucumber has me dreaming of warmer days and long vines loaded with one of my favorite garden vegetables.

Cucumbers have a long history and evidence shows they’ve been grown for almost 3000 years. The vegetable may be mostly water, but that’s how it earned its reputation for keeping its cool. 

With garden as its middle name, the NGB’s goal is to help gardeners have more beautiful and successful gardens. The nonprofit organization works with the horticulture industry to promote edibles, but annuals and perennials, too.

If you’re as crazy about cukes as I am, you might want to add these new cucumber varieties to your shopping list for next season:

‘Silver Slicer’ is my top pick out of this group of new cucumbers. This creamy white slicer will look beautiful growing in the garden and then topping my favorite summer salads. The fruits are a uniform 7-8″ long, consistently straight and abundant.

‘Baby Hybrid’ is a snack-size cucumber that seems ideal for my container garden. It’s a gourmet Persian-type cucumber with a thin skin that won’t need peeling. The NGB reports that ‘Baby Hybrid’ is a prolific variety that starts producing early and then keeps on going.

‘Iznik’ produces small, 3 ½-4″ cocktail-size fruit. The danger of growing these snack-size cucumbers is they’ll be so easy to eat right off the vine, they’ll never make it to the kitchen. 

‘Pick a Bushel’ is a regional choice for gardeners in northern areas. This cucumber is a Regional All-America Selections winner, chosen for its ability to set fruit early and produce a lot of it on compact, bush-type vines. This sounds like a good choice for small-space and container gardens.

What new cucumber varieties will help you make 2014 the year of the cucumber in your garden?

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