I’m so excited to be able to tell you about the star of last year’s vegetable garden: Mandurian Round cucumber. While everyone knows what cucumbers look and taste like, this little jewel is different in so many ways. Let’s talk about its appearance first. Mandurian Round cucumber is, you guessed it, round. Its skin is variegated with green and white and has a fuzzy texture to it. The fuzzies wash right off when you’re ready to enjoy the cucumbers with a meal. They are best consumed when they are no larger than the size of a baseball. They will grow to be the size of a football if you let them, but at that point the skins are tough and they don’t have the delightful sweet taste of the smaller ones.
Their taste is sweeter than a conventional cucumber and they are unbelievably crunchy. My favorite part of them is that you don’t have to peel them before eating. See, I’m a lazy cook…while I enjoy fresh vegetables, I enjoy them a lot more if all I have to do is wash them and eat them. Even the simple act of having to peel a “normal” cucumber is enough to make me move on to the next vegetable. There were many evenings when my husband and I would wash the cucumbers and then sprinkle them with sea salt and freshly ground pepper as a side dish. While ranch dressing makes everything better in my opinion, the Mandurian Round cucumber can hold its own with just a little S&P.
As for the culture of the Mandurian Round cucumber, it’s really no different than other cukes. It enjoys full sun and consistent soil moisture for the best production. I grew mine on the ground last year as they are touted as being a bush form instead of a vining type. In my experience, they did vine but the stems only reached about 5′ in diameter. I didn’t notice any tendrils, which is the way that conventional cukes climb. The arms of the Mandurian Round cucumbers were easily tucked back onto their allotted hill if they became a little unruly.
While Mandurian Round is described as a cucumber, it actually belongs to the melon family. Cucumis melo is its botanical name, whereas “normal” cucumbers go by the name Cucumis sativus. For you, this means that it is naturally burpless and won’t become bitter as it ages or if it doesn’t receive the proper amount of water during fruit formation.
I have a story about how popular this cucumber is with those who have sampled it. My husband and I have a vegetable garden at a friend’s house as we don’t have enough sun to sustain a veggie garden at home. Our friend took some of the Mandurian Round cucumbers to work to share with co-workers since we were inundated with them when they were in full production. His co-worker enjoyed them so much that she called grocery stores all over the Richmond area looking for them, but no one carried them. They are definitely a specialty crop that hasn’t caught on with mainstream grocers but that shouldn’t stop you from trying them in your garden. The seeds are available from Gourmet Seeds where you can purchase a packet of 80 seeds for $2.89. That’s a small investment for such a delicious bounty of cucumbers, don’t you think? Let me know if you have any experience growing Mandurian Round cucumbers by leaving me a comment below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy gardening!