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Live in the North Carolina Piedmont? Come to the Tomato Tasting 7/23!

Guilford County Cooperative Extension, the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, and North Carolina A&T State University invite EVERYONE to attend the Second Annual Tomato Tasting Event July 23...

recent comments

Re: QUESTION: Skunk or Squirrel?

Sounds like a chipmunk (ground squirrel). I have to put fairly good-sized gravel/rocks in my containers to keep the little rascals out. Suspending your containers (remember the old macrame plant holders from the 70s and 80s?) may keep all the critters out.

Re: QUESTION: Bitter Cucumbers

From North Carolina Cooperative Extension's website:
All cucurbits produce a group of chemicals called cucurbitacins, which causes the bitter taste in cucumbers. The higher the concentration of cucurbitacins, the more bitter the taste. The cucurbitacin chemical that causes the bitter taste can be toxic at very high levels, but this is usually not a problem because most people spit it out before ingesting.

Cucumbers have been selected over time for low levels of these bitter compounds, so that usually it is not a problem for the home gardener. The amount of cucurbitacins is in such a low concentration that it usually is not tasted.

It is fairly common for a home gardener to occasionally come across a cucumber that has a bitter taste. The bitterness is due to high levels of cucurbitacins that was triggered by environmental stress. These environmental stresses can include high temperatures, wide temperature swings, or too little water. Uneven watering practices (too wet followed by too dry), low soil fertility and low soil pH are also possible stress factors. Over-mature or improperly stored cucurbits may also develop a mild bitterness, although it is usually not severe enough to prevent gardeners from eating them.

The bitter compound is more likely to be more concentrated in the stem end than in the blossom end of the cucumber. It is also found more in the peel and in the light green area just beneath the peel. It is less likely to be found in the interior of the fruit.

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to prevent the occasional bitter cucumber since it is related to environmental stress and we are not able to control the weather. So, if occasionally, you come across a bitter cucumber out of your home garden, simply get rid of the bad tasting cucumber.

Hope this helps! (I've also heard that simply peeling the bitter ones may get to the "sweeter" part of the fruit.