‘Crystal Apple’ cucumbers

This year I am only growing two types of cucumber, and I almost didn’t grow these at all. I was late sowing and was so busy with everything else that I didn’t get round to sowing them. Then I suddenly remembered in late May and thought I had better sow a few. One is ‘Carmen’, an all-female, F1 cue. All-female cucumbers are the easiest to grow because there are no male flowers to pollinate the female flowers – which makes them swollen and bitter – and they are usually more resistant to disease. Cucumbers are odd in that the fruits are parthenocarpic – they are formed without the flowers being pollinated. ‘Carmen’ is a good variety with long, attractive fruit and is often grown for showing. It crops well and it is just like a good supermarket cue (only without the plastic). All-female cucumbers can produce male flowers if the plants are stressed so keep them growing steadily. You may be wondering how you stress a cucumber – make it suffer from extremes of temperature, drought or lack of food – it really isn’t a joke.

It is important to grow onlyΒ  all-female cucumbers in your greenhouse or male flowers on other plants will produce pollen that bees will carry to your all-female plant.

The other cucumber I am growing is ‘Crystal Apple’. This is a very different plant altogether. The most important difference, though not the most obvious by looking at it, is that this is like ‘ridge’ or outdoor cucumbers and gherkins, and this one needs its female flowers to be pollinated to form a fruit. So the male and female flowers are left on the plant. As with many cucurbits, plants tend to produce only male flowers at first but eventually I had some female flowers and now the plant is carrying many fruits.

cuc rystalk apple2

‘Crystal Apple’ produces globular, white fruits, with sparse black bristles and once they start to crop they are usually prolific. The fruits are very tasty but have larger seeds and seed cavity than ‘normal’ cues. They are crisp and white-fleshed but they do need peeling! As they mature they start to turn yellow and you should avoid letting them get to this stage because they can be bitter by then.

cuc rystalk apple3

They can be grown outside, in a sunny, sheltered spot, or in the greenhouse. In general they are easier to grow than ‘normal’ cues but make sure they have enough water – and of course they must be protected from frost when young. I sow them, like all my squash, singly, on their sides, in multipurpose compost in 8-10cm pots in mid-late April (usually).

cuc rystalk apple

They are ideal for growing in pots on the patio and are a good crop for kids because they grow quickly, are a bit weird and they taste nice. The plants will reach about 1m or more high and will scramble widely and need support.

Although they may not have the refinement of long green cues they are very useful. When small, they could be stuffed (a filling of prawn cocktail would be nice – if you remember to peel them – the cues and the prawns), they are good for pickling and for salads and also for cooking, such as cucumber soup. So far I have just eaten them raw!

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11 Comments on “‘Crystal Apple’ cucumbers”

  1. thelonggardenpath
    September 23, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    You do grow such a varied and interesting selection of Veg. It’s an encouragement to us all to be a bit more adventurous in our chices. Thank you, and keep it up!

    • thebikinggardener
      September 23, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      I have a few more veg from this year to post about. The squashes are just about ready so they will be next. I like to experiment when I can but try to be as honest as possible about how they grow, though sometimes when something fails it is not always the plant’s fault – but mine.

  2. sueturner31
    September 23, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    We have grown the Crystal Apple a few times in and outside. The granddaughters love them and I have pickled them when we didn’t have a good crop of gherkins one year. I like the flavour . πŸ™‚

    • thebikinggardener
      September 23, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Ah, that’s reassuring to know they pickle well – I have not properly pickled them – just had them with vinegar πŸ™‚

      • sueturner31
        September 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

        I did them with dill…just boiled up 2 cups of water,1 cup w/w vinegar,1/4 cup sugar,3 tbls coarse salt, teasp dill seed or fresh fronds of dill plus some to pop in the jars, 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed. Put the gherkins or cucs (sliced lengthways) in a large bowl, pour over the boiled mixture ,put a plate on top and leave to cool then jar up….keep in fridge, if you can keep you’re hands off them they last about 2/3 months . we love them… πŸ™‚

      • thebikinggardener
        September 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

        thanks for that – i will give that a try – sounds very good. I like dill pickle so it sounds like something I would eat. Thank your again πŸ™‚

  3. lizard100
    September 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Enjoyed reading this. I too grow strange and unusual things.

  4. Robbie
    September 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Another blogger from New Zealand informed me they call them crystal apples there, too what we call “heirloom lemon cucumbers”…great post and very educational!
    I guess that is why my cukes I grew on an arbor, vertically this year were loaded with bees..did not know that about male + female etc.

    • thebikinggardener
      September 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks for that. I am aware that people from all countries read this and I very nearly mentioned the lemon cucumber bit but you have now so thanks πŸ™‚

      • Robbie
        September 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

        it is funny how a lot of our vegetables have different names,but they look alike or similar since they do adapt to where they are grown:-) I never knew yours was the same as ours. Your photo really captured it and it was the same!

      • thebikinggardener
        September 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

        Well I can’t remember where I got the seeds from – I need to check my sowing book! I got a lot of seeds this year from Baker Creek in Missouri http://www.rareseeds.com

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