Tending a vegetable garden is equal parts joy and frustration. The joy comes from picking your own fresh beans, tomatoes or squash right from your own yard. The frustration comes from the endless issues surrounding the science of growing vegetables. This has been a frustrating July in my vegetable garden. Not only is some kind of animal, probably a woodchuck, climbing the fence and helping itself to all the partially ripened heirloom tomatoes, but for the first time ever the cucumbers are terribly bitter. Now, I have grown enough vegetables to know the trials and tribulations with tomatoes, but cucumbers?! They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and maintain....just not this year.
Bitter cucumbers can come from a variety of environmental issues. The first being extremely high temperatures and the second being lack of water. Well, with temps reaching close to 100 degrees almost every day in July and absolutely no rain, this makes complete sense.
Suggestions to fix bitter cucumbers include peeling the skin and the layer just under the skin, plus cutting the ends off. These are the areas where the bitterness resides. But, wow! If you do all that, what's left to eat? There is a name for this bitter chemical in the cucumbers, but it's really long and let's face it, I don't really care what the name is, the word bitter suffices just as well.
Every few years we have a summer like this one with drought conditions and extremely high temps. However, having lived here for fifteen years, I know most likely next summer will not be this hot and dry and I just have to wait it out a little longer until August brings cooler temps and hopefully some rain.