Cucumbers | The Lea Valley Nursery Industry

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For many years cucumbers have played an important role within the Lea Valley nurseries. The Rochford`s were experienced growers, with Tom II in particular cultivating considerable amounts during the Great War. When Joseph Rochford began his new life in Turnford in 1882 his only competition was one other market grower, a gentleman named Thomas Hamilton who grew cucumbers. Today cucumber production remains focused in the South East of England and in the North East, with the total area of greenhouses dedicated to these plants estimated at around 120 hectares (as stated by the Cucumber Growing Association).cucumber

A member of the Cucurbitaceae family, the cucumber has a long and interesting history. Originating from India it is believed to have been grown in Western Asia for some 3000 years, and was most probably introduced to Europe by the Romans. Pliny the Elder claims that cucumbers were enjoyed on a daily basis by the Emperor Tiberius (who ruled during the 1st century AD), and that they were cultivated in greenhouse like environments during the colder seasons. The Ancient Greeks are also said to have grown cucumbers and to this day they are a key feature of many Greek dishes.

Whilst the majority of us would class a cucumber as a vegetable, the fact that it has enclosed seeds and grows from a flower confirms it as a fruit. There is a wide variety of different cucumbers with each type claiming its own characteristics. In 2008 Alf Cobb set the world record for the longest cucumber, having grown one which reached a staggering 91cm. In 2009 this title was challenged by a 1.2m giant grown by Yitzhak Yizdanpana from Israel.

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