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07/16/10 1:04PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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AP/Christof Stache

I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal.  Eating cucumbers is a great way to keep cool during the summer. In fact, cool as a cucumber isn't just a phrase to describe your personality. The inside of a cucumber fruit can be almost 20 degrees cooler than the outside air on a hot day.

Cukes are easy to grow, but do have two big problems: poor pollination and the cucumber beetle. Most cucumber varieties have separate male and female flowers. They need bees or you to pollinate them to get fruits. If the bees aren't flying due to hot weather, clouds, or just few of them around, you won't get proper pollination.

The solution is to grow varieties that don't require pollination such as 'Diva' or to play cupid. Here's how. In the morning take a cotton swab and swish it inside a male flower (the ones with straight stems behind the blossom). Then go to a female flower (the ones with a small cucumber behind the blossom) and swish it there. Viola- pollination!

Cucumber beetles not only cause damage to the leaves, flowers, and fruits, they spread bacterial wilt disease which causes the plant to wilt and die prematurely. Control the beetles with sprays of spinosad or pyrethrum.

Now for this week's tip, want to get the best flavor from your tomatoes? Perhaps add a little sea salt to the soil.  Check out the research from Rutgers University at the Vermont Garden Journal at VPR dot net.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about hydrangeas!  For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden! 

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Related Links

Rutgers tomato flavor study Hand pollinating cucumbers Cucumber Beetles
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