Cucumber Queen

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MURFREESBORO—Growing large cucumbers seems to be the trend here this year.

A few weeks ago, Robert “Dusty” Rhoades reported a 24-inch cucumber and now an even larger cucumber has been found just outside the town limits.

Approximately one month ago, Brenda Barker was checking her cucumber vine out back when she came upon a 30-inch long cucumber.

“This thing was so big it was hiding behind the cucumber and squash vines,” she said.

Barker said the vegetable is a Chinese cucumber and was grown from seeds she bought at the Family Dollar Store.

The avid canner said she was shocked to find the large cucumber, believing it had been too dry and hot for any produce to grow.

“I just didn’t think we would have anything,” she said. “This is the first year I really have had hardly anything to put away.”

One thing Barker believes may have helped the cucumber to grow was the horse manure she used to fertilize the garden.

Barker said she’s been gardening since 1970, but added she’s always been around agriculture as her maternal grandparents owned and operated a farm.

“Really I’ve been gardening all of my life, I used to help my granddad chop peanuts,” she said. “So, I’m just a country girl.”

Most of the vegetables grown in Barker’s garden are canned or frozen. Some of what she cans goes to her customers at Brenda’s Beauty Shop, the business she runs just next to her home.

“Most of my customers are senior citizens so I’ll give them pumpkin bread, relish or jelly,” she said.

Besides being a hairdresser and gardener, Barker is also a member of the Murfreesboro Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, which she initiated two years ago.

As for the 30-inch cucumber, Barker plans to reuse the seeds next year to grow cucumbers.

“I love my garden,” she said. “My husband (Gilbert) always tells me I should buy vegetables at the grocery store, but it’s not the same. It’s a love gift when you give someone something you’ve made.”