Tips & Tricks

A home­made con­trap­tion has been help­ing one Wis­con­sin fam­ily har­vest cu­cum­bers for five decades.


A home­made con­trap­tion eases the pain of har­vest­ing cu­cum­bers.

ANY­ONE WHO’S PICKED CU­CUM­BERS knows it is hard on the back.

Grant Moseley’s grand­fa­ther Glen “Mike” Moseley grew about an acre of them at his Warrens, Wis­con­sin, veg­etable farm in the 1960s. He sold them to the lo­cal “pickle sta­tion” for trans­fer to a pick­ling fa­cil­ity.

Look­ing for a way to ease the pain, Mike de­vised what the fam­ily now af­fec­tion­ately refers to as “the pickle picker.” The self-pro­pelled con­trap­tion al­lows two hu­man har­vesters to lie on their stom­achs, close enough to the vines to pick the cukes. Bushel boxes at­tach within arm’s reach for col­lect­ing the crop as the whole thing moves along with the aid of a small Briggs & Strat­ton

engine and an old Ford Model A trans­mis­sion. Mike bor­rowed the ap­pa­ra­tus’s gear­box from a ro­totiller.

“He was quite handy,” Grant says of his grand­fa­ther’s in­ge­nu­ity. It re­ally helped when Grant ex­panded the cu­cum­ber patch to about 3 acres in the 1980s. “We would be pick­ing pick­les all day, ev­ery day, it seemed like,” Grant says.

Rid­ers con­trol the for­ward mo­tion with their feet, but the pickle picker doesn’t have steer­ing. So, in the spring be­fore the plants vine out, Grant carves ditches be­tween the rows to keep the picker’s wheels on track. It isn’t the com­fi­est ride, but Grant says ly­ing down sure beats bend­ing over to pick. “It’s faster and eas­ier on the back,” he says. “But it’s still work.”

The pickle picker has be­come a bit of a leg­end in Grant’s part of cen­tral Wis­con­sin. “If it’s out by the side of the road, peo­ple stop and take no­tice,” he says. “You can buy things now like it. They’re hy­drauli­cally driven. They’re a lot nicer.” But they prob­a­bly don’t cause the same stir as cars drive by.

Grant Moseley’s sons, Sa­muel and David, pause on the pickle picker (above). The Mose­leys farm 12 acres of veg­eta­bles and blue­ber­ries, which they sell at their Moseley Road­side Mar­ket in Warrens, Wis­con­sin, and a farm­ers mar­ket in nearby Tomah.

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