Pickle Project: Seed to Sandwich

As the summer draws to a close, I thought I’d report on a very successful project I’ve been working on this summer. I call it Pickle Project: Seed to Sandwich. The idea was to make my own pickles, and I thought it would be fun to combine the cooking / pickling elements with some basic gardening. I’m a basic gardener.
The project began with a gift I received for Christmas a couple years ago, the EarthBox gardening system. I can’t recommend this enough to the novice gardner. It’s a planting box with a false bottom. The false bottom allows you to fill up a chamber of water under the soil and keep the soil moist without fear of overwatering. It’s simple, but it worked really well.
Pickle Project: Sprouts on day 7
I got some cucumber seeds from Burpee and planted them indoors in a seed starter. This picture was taken on day 7 of the project. The seeds had sprouted and were looking healthy.
Pickle Project: Planting in Earth Box on day 7
I set up the EarthBox on the same day, and planted the cucumber plants.
Pickle Project: Bigger leaves developing on day 29
Day 29: Most of the plants survived and started growing big leaves.
Pickle Project: Thriving vines on day 62
I took the above picture on day 62. All I had been doing up until this point was keeping the EarthBox full of water. As you can see, the vines were really thriving at this point.
Pickle Project: Tiny cucumbers on day 70
By day 70, there were flowers and tiny little cucumbers forming.
Pickle Project: Full size cucumbers on day 91
The first cucumbers were ready around day 91, so this was the day of the first harvest. The pickles were a bit bulbous and sometimes more on the yellow side rather than green. I had better shapes and colors as the project went on, but not always the shape of perfect pickles. Looking around the grocery store, I developed a theory that commercial cucumbers are selected for cutting based on their shapes. So bulbous cucumbers become slices, large cucumbers become spears, and perfect cucumbers are picked whole.
Pickle Project: Harvest
Here’s a picture of the first few cucumbers. This was enough to fill a pickle jar, or in my case, a plastic take-out container.
Pickle Project: Pickling
There are tons of pickling recipes online, with varying degrees of complexity. I chose a really simple “refrigerator” recipe that is basically just vinegar, water, garlic, spices, and a week or two in the fridge. I was at the grocery store finding all kinds of spices when I discovered “pickling spice”. It’s a mix of everything you need. The only drawback was the proportions weren’t quite right, or the allspice was sitting on the top, because there was a little too much allspice.
Pickle Project: Sandwich
My pickles turned out great. They’re crisp, fresh, tangy, and a bit spicy. They go perfectly with a crusty grilled cheese sandwich. The above photo was taken on day 106, and I’m still harvesting and making more batches of pickles.