Issue: Septe1ber 1, 2001

Odd Cucumber Color

Question:

My cucumbers are an exotic but frightening yellow color. What has happened? -Dr. L. (via internet)

Answer:

I discussed your question with Dr. George Dickerson, NMSU Extension Horticulture Specialist, who works with home vegetable crops. He thinks that you have planted lemon cucumber, a cucumber that is yellow in color and is usually not as long as regular cucumbers. Another suggestion is that the cucumber is "ripening". That is, the seed inside are maturing and getting hard and the color of the fruit is changing to indicate maturity.

Honeylocust Leaf Loss

Question:

The leaves have been falling from my honeylocust tree for the past two weeks. No other trees are losing leaves now. Is there something wrong with my honeylocust? -Matt H. (Albuquerque)

Answer:

Don't worry, this is an evidence that autumn is coming. The honey locust is more sensitive to the change in day length than many other trees, so it begins dropping leaves earlier. It will also be one of the earliest to show fall color. A few other tree species are also responding to the changing day lengths, and in the next few weeks even more will be dropping leaves.

As the trees begin showing that they are going dormant, you can begin reducing the water you provide to them. In fact, drying them now will help prevent fall freeze injury if we get a sudden cold spell. The trees still need water, but some trees don't respond well to day length changes and will remain unable to withstand a sudden cold snap. By reducing the water by watering less often, you can protect these trees. If there is a lawn around the trees, water it less and for a shorter period of time (this means the soil will not be moistened as deeply) so that the grass plants, which are more efficient water scavengers, will get the water before the trees. This is another good reason not to plant trees in the middle of grass lawns; management is much easier at times like these.

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For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page: desertblooms@nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.