Cukes Now! Tomatoes for the Fourth?

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My first cucumber of the season was picked over two weeks ago, and since then I’ve picked more than a dozen—and I only have two plants! It’s fun to pick something in the garden and immediately bite into it. Most standard cucumbers start the season by producing lots of male flowers, which won’t produce fruit. (Squash, melons, and pumpkins do the same thing.) Later, female flowers are produced (they have small fruits—actually ovaries—behind the flower, so they’re easy to differentiate), and hopefully the pollen from the male finds its way to the female flowers.

Some cucumber varieties are parthenocarpic. That is, they produce only female flowers, so you get much more fruit, and earlier too. These varieties are not genetically modified. The seeds are much more expensive than other cukes. One seed company sells them for sixty-nine cents per seed. It doesn’t seem that long ago when you could get a packet of seeds for ten cents. Nevertheless, I prefer the parthenocarpic types. They are particularly good if you only have a small garden area and need to maximize production. I’m growing a variety called ‘Mini Munch.’ It’s ideal picking size is three to four inches, and it’s marketed as a “snacking cuke.” The skin is smooth and thin, so no peeling is required. I like the small size because I use one cuke in a salad, and there is no waste. Did you ever find half of an old cuke in a baggie at the back of your refrigerator? Yuk. That doesn’t happen with ‘Mini Munch.’

Cucumbers are made up mostly of water—about 96%. This is why it’s so important to keep them well watered after the flowers have been successfully pollinated. If you don’t, the fruit can become irregular and distorted, and the taste isn’t quite right either. (The same is true of radishes. Not enough water will make them pithy and hot.) In recent weeks, since about the time I planted my cucumbers, it has been unusually dry here. My plants have been faithfully watered, so all is well. Cucumbers must have heat. They originated in India and Southeast Asia, after all. I always recommend planting them after June first. But even then, cold related problems can still occur. Such was the case this year. Around mid-June, on one fine day, we took all of our remaining cukes out of the greenhouse and set them outside, just like we do every year at that time. That night the temperature dipped into the high forties—not even all that cold—and the next day the cukes had turned white. A few still had a couple green leaves, and I was hopeful, but they all died. The plants had gone from a continual climate of eighty plus degrees, to a night temperature in the high forties, and it was too much of a shock. A customer sent me photos of her cukes that had done the same thing. And the same thing happened in my own garden about five years ago, so I should have known better. This year, my personal plants had been in the garden for over a week by the time that cold night struck, so they were well acclimated. At the greenhouse, we also had a large batch of basil outdoors, but they had been out for over a week, and so could tolerate the coolth. Normally, basil is one of the most tender, frost-sensitive plants there is. So, even basil can be acclimated, or “hardened off.”

This is the first year that I can recall having no blossom end rot on my tomatoes. That’s the disease where the bottom of the tomato fruit has a dark leathery patch, and is inedible. The disease begins at the time of fruit formation, so it can be detected early, even when the fruit is tiny. I check for it as soon as the fruit forms, and pick and discard any that I find. The plant will then produce more flowers, and hopefully they will be free of the problem. I have twelve tomato plants at my place, and another twelve at the office. All are different varieties, and all have formed fruit, with no sign of BER. The disease is most common at the start of the season, so it’s looking to be a good tomato season. In my garden, the fruit on ‘Grandma’s Pick’ is the largest right now, but the first to ripen will likely be ‘Bloody Butcher’ or one of the cherry types. I’ve picked ripe fruit before the Fourth of July in some years, but it’s not going to happen this year. I see that the next ten days will all be above eighty degrees, so it won’t be long. But this year’s holiday celebration won’t include home grown tomatoes.

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) with your questions and comments


Click on the links below to view the 2019 Tomatomania results


By Category



July 2020 - Cukes Now! Tomatoes for the Fourth?
June 2020 - Tomato Plant Supports and Fertility
May 2020 - Time to Plant
April 2020 - Making Salads More Memorable
April 2020 - Victory Gardens Then and Now
April 2020 - Turn Off the News and Get in Your Garden
March 2020 - Stay Healthy---Plant Some Greens
February 2020 - Winter Planning, Winter Reading


September 2019 - Planting Fall Greens---what's your excuse?
September 2019 - 2019 Tomatomania Review
August 2019 - The Hypochondriacal Garden
July 2019 - Tomatoes 2019---A New Record!
June 2019 - Tomatoes---Early Summer Progress Report
June 2019 - Dwarf Tomatoes---The Next Big Thing
May 2019 - The Urge to Plant is Getting Stronger
April 2019 - Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Greens
April 2019 - Jefferson's Tomatoes & Tomato Nutrition
March 2019 - The Year of the Potato
March 2019 - Tomatoes---America's Favorite Vegetable
February 2019 - The Greens are Coming
January 2019 - Long, Chilly Nights Make Me Think of Tomatoes


June 2018 - Learn the Rules Before You Break Them
May 2018 - To Plant or Not to Plant
March 2018 - Brrr...Can You Plant this Early?
February 2018 - February's Climatological Shift


October 2017 - Remember: Every Tomato Variety is Someone's Favorite
August 2017 - A Tomato Miracle
July 2017 - Our Big Garden & Some Unpleasant News
June 2017 - Mid-June Tomato Report
June 2017 - Tomatoes----The Acid Test
April 2017 - It's Time to Plant Onions
April 2017 - Raspberries: It's time for annual pruning
March 2017 - Warning! Internet Garden Danger!
March 2017 - Tomato Talk---Shorter Varieties are Trending
March 2017 - It's Only the Start of March, but...
February 2017 - Tasty Greens and Winter Tomatoes
February 2017 - Green is Right Around the Corner


October 2016 - Autumn Greens, Eggplant and more
September 2016 - The Tomato Polls are Closed, the Winner is...
September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.
August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!
July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening
July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns
June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!
June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!
May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!
May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!
April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!
April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!
March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens! 
March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant
February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience
February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon
January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!


November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)
October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!
September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!
September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!
September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!
August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!
August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes
July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden
July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato
July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?
July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!
June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...
June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion
June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!
May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!
May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic
May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!
May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe
April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video
April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden
April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?
April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting
March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!
March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!
February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!
February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015



September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!
September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative
August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe
August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins
July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet
July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing
June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns
May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment
May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?
May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014
April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?
March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now
February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!
October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables
September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog
September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results
September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 BlogVideo and T-Shirt
August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet
July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash
July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe
June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow


September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant
May 2012 - My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature 
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2011 -Tomatomania Review  
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
July 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement


September 2010 - Tomatomania Review  
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color 
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes 
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review  
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience 
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General