Sunday, August 15, 2021

Meet the Burr Gherkin


Burr gherkin
That's not a hedgehog in my palm -- it's a burr gherkin!

It looks like a little spiky cucumber.

(And to be honest, it kind of tastes like a little spiky cucumber.)

But it's not really a cucumber (same genus, different species).

It's my first year growing burr gherkins after I was gifted some seeds by a kind farmer friend (Thanks, Brittney!).

They have not been all that productive yet (I've only just harvested my second one) and the fruits are small, but I have been very impressed with their toughness and ability to tolerate heat, humidity, awful clay soil, and reflected heat from a brick wall. So far, the vines also seem to be ignored by herbivores, both insects and the rabbits that have ravaged other plants in my vegetable garden this year (e.g., Armenian cucumber and molokhia). 

Burr gherkin cut with cherry tomatoes for scale. The purple veggie sliced into this salad are actually rat tail radish seedpods!

I like burr gherkins, but the spines are definitely more intimidating than a typical cucumber's prickles. So far, I have tried rubbing off the burr gherkin's spines under running water using both a thumbnail and the side of a spoon. Both methods seem to work just fine and allowed me to eat the small fruit without attempting to peel it. I haven't tried eating it without removing the spines first. I think it would be painful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

These Buds are For You

Some buds are still wrapped tight, but flowers starting to unfurl...

Spring is a time of hope and promise in my Middle Tennessee garden.

Prunus tomentosa (downy cherry, bush cherry) 

Ribes aureum, Ribes odoratum (golden currant, clove currant)

Ribes aureum... I expect the flowers with their delicious clove fragrance to start opening in the next few days. If you're looking for a shrub with early-season yellow flowers, I believe clove currant is a much better choice than the overplanted and garish Forsythia. Clove currant also happens to be native to much of the United States and it produces edible fruit. And then there's the floral fragrance. 👃🏻

Hyacinths! My favorite early spring bulbs. Fragrant, herbivore resistant (in my experience), and reliably perennial even in heavy clay soil in Zone 7.

Acer rubrum (red maple). The flowers are quite beautiful, they are just usually too small and too far up in the canopy for most people to notice.

Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum) 

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) ... Some of last year's foliage is still adorning the shrub even as this year's fuzzy new leaves start to emerge

I hope 2021 will be a healthy, peaceful, and beautiful year for you and your loved ones.

Happy Gardening 🌱