Whoops. I try to stay on top of rogue fruit by checking all around leafy plants, but alas, occasionally one gets away. I found this monstrous cucumber yesterday. It was hidden deeply, camouflaged by the foliage. For comparison, this is a pickling variety that is supposed to be harvested at a fraction of this size.
Here’s the deal: We harvest the fruit of some plants such as tomatoes and melons when they are fully mature because that’s when they are at their flavour peak, and others such as cucumbers are at their best when they are young and tender. Not only do we benefit as eaters, but cheating the plant out of completing its lifecycle and producing mature fruit “tricks” it into producing a higher yield. Fortunately, one mature cucumber is not enough to signal a healthy cucumber plant that it can give up now that its job is done, but one such monster cucumber did kill a plant that I was growing in a big pot in my old roof garden a number of years back. That baby beast literally sucked the life out of the poor thing.
Incidentally, looking at a mature cucumber (Cucumis sativus) really makes it clear how closely related they are to melons (Cucumis melo).
I haven’t cut the cucumber open yet, so I’m not yet sure if the seeds inside are mature enough to be saved and grown out next year. However, that possibility aside, I’m wondering if an overgrown cucumber has any edible potential at all? When the garden gives you an oversized cucumber, you experiment in hopes of making… something, anything vaguely palatable!