Margaret Button: When life hands you overripe cucumbers ... make relish

Photo provided by Metro Creative Connection

Three months, almost to the day, after I planted my garden — OK, my two horse troughs — I have to report another dismal harvest.

Out of 10 tomato plants, two cucumber plants, six poblano pepper plants and six red pepper plants, I got maybe two handfuls of cherry and grape tomatoes, five or six plum tomatoes, five cucumbers, two red peppers and eight poblanos. I'm pretty sure as far as cost goes, I'm in the red on the price of the plants alone, never mind the fertilizer and subsequent pesticides.

The first to go was the tomato plants, which developed what I think, according to my sleuthing on the internet, was tomato blight. The leaves turned yellow with spots and then the fruit rotted at the end. A few of the tomatoes did remain unscathed and I managed to get two or three bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches out of the deal. Somehow, the cherry and grape tomato plants weren't affected — not susceptible, maybe? — and I was able to enjoy some whenever I walked past them on the way to and from the pool.

The cucumber plants started out well enough, growing about 3 inches daily in the beginning. Then, their leaves turned yellow and the plants stopped producing cucumbers; although one plant managed to grow enough to start creeping along the floor of my deck.

The red pepper plants just weren't happy, no matter what I did. They wouldn't blossom and when they finally did, only a few of them produced peppers, some of which rotted on the plant before they even turned red.

I was cleaning up the "garden" the other day when I noticed a cucumber hanging off the back of the trough, out of sight — and obviously out of mind. It was the size of a large zucchini and was a lemon yellow color. Being ever optimistic, I Googled "can you eat cucumbers that are large and yellow." Turns out, most authorities on the web said no, it would be too bitter and the peel too tough. There were a few references though to yellow cucumber relish. I quickly checked the pantry to see if I had everything. I did and was soon chopping and brining.

I didn't have enough cucumbers to make the full recipe, so I cut it in half, which netted me two medium-sized jars. I also didn't have any turmeric, and used pickling spice instead of the spices called for. I have to say it wasn't bad. I have yet to try it on a burger or hot dog, but it's pretty good right out of the jar!

YELLOW CUCUMBER RELISH

(Courtesy of www.familycookbookproject.com)

INGREDIENTS:

2 quarts chopped cucumbers (peeled)

2 onions chopped fine

3 peppers chopped fine

3/4 quarts vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon mustard seed

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

DIRECTIONS:

Chop the cucumbers, onions and peppers and put through a grinder. Let the mixture stand in brine for three hours. Drain. Sprinkle 1/4 cup salt over this.

Boil vinegar till hot, then put in ground cucumber mixture and boil for good 10 minutes.

Pack in jars and seal.