This story begins with an email. The subject: “Community Tip”.
It could have been about anything, really, and I was certainly not expecting it to be about that.
There were attachments. Photos. From a male I didn’t immediately recognize. Of course, being the curious reporter I am, I opened them. What could possibly go wrong…right?
The first photo I saw was of a man holding a snake-like object, almost as long as he was tall. I’m not even kidding. The second photo put things a little better into perspective. The man was standing in his backyard garden showing off his giant cucumber. It’s close to five feet long, Jora Dale has declared, and I’m going to go ahead and call it the unofficial world’s longest cucumber because I quickly Googled it and I couldn’t find one longer than three-and-a-half feet.
(And before you email me telling me I’m wrong…. live a little. This is supposed to be a happy column. I’m sure I could spend an hour online and prove myself wrong, too, but where’s the fun in that? If you need to criticize what I’m writing here, you’re missing the entire the point of this column.)
Anyway, back to the cucumber. What a feat for the North Cowichan-based gardener!
It wasn’t long before I realized I knew this man. And not because of his giant fruit. (Did you know cucumbers are botanically defined as fruit? I didn’t.)
With some research, I confirmed I’d written about Dale before. After a little digging, I found his story in the Aug. 9, 2013 edition of the Citizen.
My leade then: “Jora Dale is pretty proud of his banana tree.”
This guy is a real green thumb!
That summer there had also been a heat wave and Dale’s front-yard banana tree grew to a massive 18-feet tall and instead of being just ornamental, it began actually producing bananas.
Neighbours and strangers alike were thrilled with the news of the burgeoning bananas and the paper soon got letters from others in the community who also had flourishing banana trees.
I don’t really know why we get joy out of things like giant cucumbers and banana trees growing in places they aren’t supposed to be able to grow.
My aunt and uncle grow lemons down in Victoria, for example, and they’re pretty pleased about it.
Studies have shown that getting your hands dirty in the garden can actually boost your immune system, increase dopamine and serotonin levels thus helping to keep you happy and ward off depression. So there’s that. But I feel like surely there must be more to it?
Is it the pleasure and satisfaction that comes with growing something out of pretty much nothing? Or is it just the novelty of growing something odd, unusual, or uncharacteristically large? I don’t know. In any event, the internet is full of bizarre and fascinating things people have managed to grow, if you feel like having a look.
Just be careful if you search for giant cucumbers.