Cucumbers are one of those staple vegetable garden crops everyone grows. Most gardeners are familiar with the green slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. But, if you have a little extra room in your veggie garden this spring, try some unusual cukes. You'll be surprised by their color, texture and taste.
'Lemon' cucumbers grow into small, round, pale yellow balls. Believed to be originally from the Middle East, they resemble a lemon's shape and color. This heirloom has a crunchy texture and a sweeter, less acidic taste than traditional cucumbers. Pick them when only two- to three-inches in diameter for the best flavor.
From the cucumber's homeland, India, comes the 'Poona Kheera' variety. This unusual cucumber has yellow-turning to brown-skin with an elongated shape. This heavy producing heirloom has vines that can grow up to five feet and trellises well. Harvest the fruits when they're yellow for the best flavor. However, if you miss some, or just want to thrill your guests, wait until it matures to brown and looks like a russet potato. 'Poona Kheera' holds its crunchiness even when fully ripe and doesn't get seedy.
This last cucumber is an attention grabber and a fun plant to grow for kids. It's called Mexican sour gherkin or cucamelon. These have to be the cutest vegetable around. Cucamelons grow the size of a cherry tomato and are striped like watermelons. They taste like cucumbers dipped in lime juice. Harvest the fruits of this Central American native when they're the size of a big grape. Eat them raw, pickled or toss them in a cocktail, instead of an olive, for fun!