July 31, 2013
It was first introduced to Virginia by John Custis who received the seed from the English plant collector, Peter Collinson. Custis wrote to Collinson in 1737 on the experiment of growing this extraordinary fruit: “the seeds of the long cucumber you sent me; I planted but none came up; I gave my son 3 seeds which all came up; notwithstanding the excessive drouth he had one more than 3 feet long; to the astonishment of many; several people rid many miles to see it…there are more people begd some of the seed; then 10 cucumbers can afford.”
It was reported in the Virginia Gazette that same year: “There grew, this summer, in the Garden of Mr. Daniel Parke Custis, in New-Kent County, a Cucumber, of the Turkey or Morocco Kind…They are ribb’d almost like a Musk-melon, colour’d like a Water-melon; and taste much like the common Cucumber. Several curious Persons have been to view them, the like having never been seen in these Parts before.” The “Turkey Cucumber” continues to astonish visitors to Williamsburg to this very day.
For a complete dissertation of the Cucumis genus you are encouraged to consult Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg way, 18th century methods for today’s organic gardeners (Rodale Press) .