Cool as a cu­cum­ber

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plant's With A Purpose -

Few foods are as cool as cu­cum­ber and the fruits have tra­di­tion­ally been used to heal and soothe an ir­ri­tated skin, whether from the ef­fects of sun, wind, or oth­er­wise.

Since an­cient times the juice has been used to make the skin white and soft, while to­day cu­cum­ber juice is still used in com­mer­cial cos­metic prepa­ra­tions. But it doesn’t have to be com­pli­cated or ex­pen­sive. A quick rem­edy

| for puffy eyes and eye strain is to place a slice of cu­cum­ber over each eye and rest in a dark­ened room for 5-10 min­utes. Your eyes will thank you, es­pe­cially if you spend hours in front of a com­puter screen, and you can for­get about ex­pen­sive and largely in­ef­fec­tive com­mer­cial eye lo­tions.

Cu­cum­ber juice can be safely ap­plied to the skin, so the next time you find your­self fos­sick­ing through the cup­boards for some­thing to re­lieve sun­burn, re­mem­ber na­ture’s cool­ing fruit. Re­lief may be in your fridge.

will climb up to 2m high with sup­port. With­out train­ing they sprawl along the ground in all di­rec­tions!

The first year I grew cu­cum­bers they took over my green­house. Now I train them to grow up strings, pinch­ing out any lat­eral shoots from ground level up to about 50cm. It’s much ti­dier, uses space bet­ter, we get bet­ter fruit, and there’s less disease thanks to more air cir­cu­la­tion.

Ini­tially I tie them to the string, but af­ter that the ten­drils do the work for me. They can also be trained up a trel­lis.

Side shoots are best nipped out at 15-20cm long, al­low­ing cu­cum­bers to de­velop. Check them at least twice a week.

Bush cu­cum­ber va­ri­eties are slightly ear­lier to ma­ture and eas­ier to care for and har­vest, spread­ing to just 60-100cm, eg Space­mas­ter.

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