It may come as a surprise that cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is not only a health giving food, but also has medicinal properties which include the actions of aperient (mild laxative), and diuretic. Because the fruit has the ability to eliminate water from the body it's an important food for those who suffer from heart and kidney problems. The fruit also helps to dissolve kidney and bladder stones that are a result of the accumulation of uric acid. Cucumber juice is beneficial for the lungs, kidneys, intestines and skin and cucumber salad is very good for chronic constipation.
Rub the juice into the skin for skin problems and cosmetic purposes and to ease inflammations, minor burns and bedsores. If you need a pick-me-up eating a few slices of cucumber will usually work just as well if not better than tea or coffee and leave the skin on as it contains vitamin C - around ten percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Because cucumbers have an excellent source of silica they strengthen connective tissue which helps to improve and maintain healthy joints. Apart from silica, cucumbers contain potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate and vitamins A, B1, B6, C and D.
Despite the drought, I've manage to grow organic healthy cucumbers as you can see in the above photo. The first attempt failed because of the heat wave but fortunately new plants were self-sown from seeds that dropped from the discarded fruit of the plants that died off. They are so healthy despite being watered with bore water that we had to have carted in because of the lack of rain. To avoid overcrowding I trained them up bailing twine and they continue to climb and grow. Since the photo was taken a couple of weeks ago I have had enough fruit to give some away and make bread and butter cucumbers. I've used Lucerne hay to mulch the cucumber and silverbeet plants to try and conserve water and the hay also provides a very nutritious fertiliser.
Training the plants to grow up high has helped them avoid powdery mildew and other pests, kept the fruit clean and made it easy to harvest them. They are now spreading along the underside of the shade cloth and the three vines are producing delicious organic healthy fruit that we are using everyday in salads. It won't be long before we have enough to make another batch of bread and butter cucumbers.