It was February, 15 years ago, when I began to write this, a cold misty day – my favorite weather, but I was ignoring it. My heart had attached itself to a small, glossy package of seeds entitled “Little Marvel Pea.”
Oh, how we love these, the best food every created! Each year my children searched store aisles with eager-eagle eyes and then the begging would begin and it would not end until I bought at least two packages.
That had happened in January and the seeds had sat on the table by my back door for over a month, proclaiming marvelousness each time I passed.
They are marvels because they have taught my children to love digging, planting, weeding, and sweating. Sowing and Reaping, the Parable of the Sower, and endless other lessons have been planted in young hearts because they will do anything for “Little Marvels”, briefly simmered and buttered, the earlier in the year, the better.
I’m so glad for what God can do through the simplicity of humbly acquiring real food for our tables.
I’ve been discussing pickles, though, with my friends, lately. Someone asked, “How do you make little, sweet, whole “Gherkin” pickles? My kids love them . . . ” There is such potential for blessing here.
Mom, teach those little ones also to love the simple act of acquiring them!
The answer is that first you buy cucumber seed. You will never find the right cucumbers at a farmer’s market. For the very small pickles you will need many more plants than usual because each plant sets only a few flowers a day. To get enough tiny cucumbers to bother with would take many days and the first-picked ones would wilt . . . so you need enough to be able to pick around 2 quarts at a time.
To accomplish this, plant about 25 seeds.
Now your neighbors will tell you that is too many, but they will really react when they see your whole cucumber patch in one neat row with no weeds.
Yes, plant those seeds in a row, about five inches between plants. Yes, ten to twelve feet of row would be just right. (Forget the neighbors!)
After they sprout, it is time to “subdue” them. Train each vine to follow the line of the row in which it is growing. At the far end, there will be vines trailing where none were planted, so plan a space for that. The concentration of leaves will shade out nearly all weeds and keep the soil moister and cooler. Also, the row scheme lets you walk, weed, hoe, till and harvest with ease.
Once the plants are in full production, pick them every morning. They’ll not be as uniform in size as “store bought” but will cost less. You may save them in an airtight container, refrigerated for a day, but not much longer. This will help you work around your busy summer schedule and provide for a bigger batch to work with each time you heat up your kitchen.