Harvesting Cuke-a-Melons

We’ve passed the midpoint of August and things are going by in the garden.  Uncle Bob pulled out his last two rows of beans and cucumbers last week.  I was a little sad when I saw the empty rows next to my tomatoes.

Uncle Bob ate his last cucumber on Saturday, too.

I told him I had planted a late batch of cucumbers at The Hampton Victory Garden in July, but he seemed skeptical.  The plant is flowering right now with little cucumbers forming.  I can’t wait to bring him some.

Uncle Bob is a bit of a joker; he always liked to tease us kids when we were little.  He’s easy-going and he doesn’t get wound up about much.  He likes to have fun and if someone is naïve, watch out.

When I first started gardening with Uncle Bob a few years ago, I really didn’t know what I was doing.  I didn’t grow things Uncle Bob grew, mostly because I didn’t know how.  Growing lettuce and radishes and spinach was easy.  Growing cucumbers seemed difficult.  I would look at Uncle Bob’s plants and admire them.  The flowers were magically beautiful.

Uncle Bob always said I could pick my own cucumbers, but I was nervous about it.  I don’t know why.  One day, in early August, I noticed that there were a lot of big yellow cucumbers in the garden.  I shyly asked Uncle Bob if they were still good for picking.  He said “That’s a cuke-a-melon!  Help yourself.”

There were a lot of cuke-a-melons in the patch and since I didn’t really know what I was doing and I trusted Uncle Bob, it seemed likely that a big yellow cucumber was just part of the cucumber life cycle.  I picked one and brought it home.

When I sliced it, I noticed it was mostly great big seeds and it didn’t taste very good.

The next week when I went home, I didn’t see Uncle Bob until Sunday afternoon.  He and Dave, one of his cronies from the Roberts 88’ers, were sitting on the porch in the cool of the evening.  I sat down and joined them and Dave asked me how my garden was going.  Uncle Bob asked me if I wanted any more cuke-a-melons.  I said no, and then I ventured out onto that dangerous limb of truth.

“You know, it wasn’t very good.  It was full of big seeds.”

Uncle Bob and Dave looked straight ahead like mannequins and didn’t say anything.  It’s possible the corner of Dave’s mouth turned up just a tiny bit and that’s what clued me in that I had once again fallen right into the trap set by Uncle Bob.

I’m sure they had a good laugh when I left and at least once every summer Dave will ask me, straight-faced, how the cuke-a-melons are doing.

Here’s the truth about big yellow cucumbers:  big, yellow cucumbers are beyond ripe and should be discarded.  Although there are a few varieties of yellow cucumbers grown in India called Dosakai, Uncle Bob does not grow these.

The other day, someone left five or six cuke-a-melons on the Hampton Victory Garden picnic table.  It was kind of them to share their bounty.

I guess they never had an Uncle Bob.

Did you grow any cuke-a-melons this summer?

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