Since the really dry spell in April my cucumber plants have been looking less than healthy.
The leaves went all white and papery - a sign that they have had too much sun - and growth was stunted, to say the very least.
My solution - because my garden does not have an ounce of shade in the summer until 6pm - was to place assorted items around the plants to give them some respite from the glaring sunshine.
The patio table, the potted walnut tree and the eastern white pine (also potted) were all enlisted to help. In fact, my patio hasn't been looking quite its normal self lately - it's been a collection of items huddled around the poor beleaguered cucurbits as if they were protecting it and seeing what was wrong.
But I persevered - at every stage, new growth has been apparent. I've fed them, watered them and made sure they don't get baked.
Alas, one by one the little plants perished. I have gone from 10 plants to just four in a matter of recent days.
But just as I was beginning to lose hope, I discovered a tiny little cucumber hiding under one of the crumbling leaves. The plants were recovering!
The moral of this story is that sometimes there is no magic cure when your plants have got poorly, but don't give up on them - they're doing their best.