The Cucumbre Conundrum - Green Gombeen Men of the JPL Weather Balloon -->
[RAW TECHNICAL DATA]
Cucumber is a common garden vegetable native to southern Asia, but cultivated as an annual in many parts of the world. The cucumber plant is a hairy-stemmed vine that bears many tendrils. Its triangular leaves may have three pointed lobes. The plant bears yellow or whitish flowers on short stems. Its edible fruit, which is commonly called cucumber, may grow from 1 to 36 inches (2.5 to 91 centimeters) long. The pulpy fruit generally contains many seeds, though some types, such as the English type, are seedless. It is covered by a thin, smooth or prickly skin. The flesh of the fruit is usually white or yellowish.
Small cucumbers used for pickling are often called gherkins. But the true gherkin is another plant closely related to the cucumber. It bears many little spiny fruits shaped like olives.
People eat the young cucumber fruits raw or pickle them. The raw fruits are eaten in salads and sandwiches. The mature fruits are tough and contain many hard seeds [arils]. They are sometimes pickled or served as a hot vegetable. Cucumbers are a good low-calorie salad item. They are also a good source of iron and calcium, and they provide a moderate amount of vitamins.
Cucumbers grow best in warm weather and are easily killed by frost. Gardeners grow them from seed. They sow the seed in small hills of loam or light soil as soon as warm weather comes. They form the hills about 4 feet (1.2 meters) apart to allow room for the vines to grow. When the plants start to grow, they are thinned so only four or five remain in a hill. The plants grow rapidly in warm weather and if they have enough moisture. Small fruits suitable for pickles appear quite soon. Gardeners pick them every two or three days.
Some cucumbers, particularly the seedless type, are grown in greenhouses. The plants grow much as they do in fields. But usually, because of the limited space, the gardener trains the vines on cords or wires. A cucumber plant frequently yields 100 or more fruits.
[ Cucumbers grow on vines that have many coiled growths called tendrils. The plant has triangular leaves and yellow or whitish flowers. Cucumbers are eaten raw or pickled. ]
Several kinds of beetles attack young cucumber plants. Gardeners often spray the plants with rotenone dust to destroy the insects. The melon aphid also attacks cucumber plants and spreads mosaic, a virus disease.
Scientific classification. The cucumber belongs to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. It is Cucumis, sativus. Gherkins are C. anguria. - - - Albert Liptay for World Book.
Pa'l pepino. El frijote loco.