Today I am writing about cucumbers – those common, larger cucumbers that we mainly use in salads. In spite of the fact that the summer (and with it this year’s cucumber season) is lowly ending, my cucumbers are still producing. Maybe it’s because of the hot summer, or the fact that I sow them pretty late this year due to germination problems. I hope that these couple of lines will serve as an inspiration for anyone who hasn’t already to try and grow their own cucumbers next year.
Cucumbers – a hidden cure for cancer?
It seems only fair to start by telling you why (in addition to their refreshing taste and crispiness) it’s worthwhile to sow, grow and enjoy cucumbers. A lot of people don’t really know the health benefits of eating cucumbers, probably due to their mild taste. But time and time again scientific research have proven that cucmbers are actually an excellent vegetable thta contain a number of healthy substances. Cucumbers contain lignin (for those more chemically educated – they are called lariciresinol, pinoresinol in secoizolaricresinol), which scientists have found to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Cucumbers are therefore excellent for women, as they protect our female organs as well as men as they protect the prostate. 😀
In addition to scientists, cucumbers are also studied by pharmaceutical companies. They are said to be particularly interested in a group of substances called cucurbitacin for which research suggests that has the potential to become a cancer medicine.
Cucumbers are also known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So far, the research has shown that cucumbers contain substances that bind free radicals and have anti-inflammatory properties. Cucumbers are a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene in manganese.
C as a cucumber and c as cosmetics
Who hasn’t (if not in real life, at least in a movie) seen ladies who have their eyes covered with cucumber slices while being pampered in a beauty salon? The use of cucumbers is no coincidence. They contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeine acid, which help to remove water from the body, help to reduce irritated skin and reduce swelling. Slices of cucumbers are used to relieve swollen eyes, dermatitis and even burns. Cucumbers have the same Ph level as our skin and they also contain silica (silicon dioxide), which is found in the cucumber peel and is an important building block of tissues in the body. Cucumber water is therefore recommended as a source of silica for a better complexion and healthier skin.
How to grow cucumbers
The cucumber plants are amazing. If direct sown too early in the cold soil the seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate. If the condidtions are adequite it sould take no longer than a week for the first leaves to pop out of the soil. Despite the slow growth at the beginning, when it seems to me that young plants will never bear fruits, cucumbers are actually pretty fast growing plants if the conditions allow them.
I treat my cucumbers the same way as their cousins squash when it comes to the planting distnace.. I always make sure they have at least 1.5 to 2 meters of space in front of them. Usually they are planted along the wall, which is located on the front of my garden. So as cucumbers grow over the wall, their fruits are clean in a valuable space in the garden can be filled with other plants. Next year I’ll try to grow cucmbers verticaly in one of the garden beds, since it is said that cucumbers can’t be grown in the same place for at least four years.Growing cucmbers verticaly will also reduce their footprint and protect the flowers and fruits of the cucumber from the mud and dirt.
The cultivation of cucumbers is simple : sow or plant thme in well fertilized soil, mulch the young plant heavily and water them in the case of draught. Watering is indispensable if we want to avoid bitter fruits that are appearing with cucumbers if they lack water. Cucumbers are one of those plants that will be grateful for the any extra flower that you may plant in your garden. Most species of cucumbers require pollinating with pollen from other species for them to bear friuts. They are mostily polinated by bees and the bumblebees.
How to enjoy cucumbers
It seems to me that cucumbers are often overlooked vegetables, because they are mostly eaten in salads. However, this does’t have to be the case. The cucumbers are versatile and will do equally well served as a salad, like cold soup or as a meat or pasta sauce. My favoriteway of serving them is in a glass, like a refreshing drink.
How to sotre excess cucmbers? You can simply grate them and put them in the freezer or do some canning. They will even store up to a month in a root cellar if they aren’t too ripe.
Irrespective of their proven or (for the time being) supposed medicinal and beauty properties, the cucumbers are excellent and for the cultivation non-demanding variety of vegetables, which can be prepared in different ways. If you want to experiment in the kitchen, I suggest you to stir away from the traditional salad with cucumbers and tomatoes and try them in an excellent tzatziki, where you will also get some amazing cucumber water as a by-product.