© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

Cucumbers

I keep an 8×8 foot raised garden in the backyard. When I built it four years ago I filled it with topsoil mixed with manure and sand. I keep a small compost bin in the corner of the garden which more than replenishes the nutrients that the vegetables rob from the soil.

Early in the spring I’ll sow lettuce, spinach and radishes.┬áLater I plant the beets, beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.┬áThis year, I gave the garden a break from the tomatoes and instead planted a row of sunflowers along the fence-edge of my plot. The doves, cardinals and finches should enjoy that.

While I enjoy all the vegetables that I choose to grow, my favorite is the cucumber. Simple, plentiful and best picked when they are as long as the width from thumb to pinky, when eaten straight from the vine with a dash of salt, the crisp cucs snap under tooth, the juice still warm from the sun.

There’s something earthy and primal about growing and eating ones own vegetables. And in my opinion there is little else which can come from 64 square feet of dirt that can rival the simple pleasure of a homegrown summertime cucumber.

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