Last spring, when I was starting the seeds of several varieties of cucumbers, I could almost taste those marvelous summer vegetables. No grocery store cuke can hold a candle to the honest-to-gosh sublime goodness of a cucumber freshly-picked from a garden.

It has been a while since those seeds were sown, but in the meantime, the cucumber plants were making good use of the time, sunshine and recent rainfalls to produce a crop of sweet, crunchy cucumbers.

Growing cucumbers is a snap. They thrive in rich, well-drained soil with a full-sun exposure. Give them something to climb so that the “fruits” are not in contact with the ground where they may rot or where slugs can get to them. Plant cucumbers along with sunflowers for a gorgeous companion planting to encourage even better growth.

I find that starting seeds indoors in six packs in late April or early May gives them a jump start on the growing season, so that when the temps moderate enough to plant them outdoors in the garden, they are ready to grow.

Oh my, those fresh crispy cukes are so good. We’ve been preparing them a lot of different ways, but turns out the fresh refrigerator dill pickles topped them all. About as easy and quick to make as anything can be, the simple ingredients combine to create a symphony of flavor. And crunchy? These pickles define the word.

So, here are the ingredients. A batch of four pints mixes up in just minutes. Really. Then let them “stew” in your refrigerator for two days and voila! Pickles the likes of which you’ve never tasted, unless of course you regularly make refrigerator dills. No cooking.

Refrigerator dill pickles

8 to 10 fresh cucumbers (maybe more depending on size)

4 fresh dill heads or several pieces fresh dill weed

8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise

1.5 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1.5 cups rice wine or other mild vinegar

2 cups water

Slice cucumbers down its length, then slice each half down to create “spears.” Place one dill head and two cloves garlic in bottom of each of four pint jars. Start slipping cucumber spears into jars, filling jars as tightly packed as possible without crushing spears.

Mix together the salt, sugar, vinegar and water, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour liquid into jars to completely cover cucumbers. Screw on lids and place jars in refrigerator for two days. Enjoy your fresh and crunchy dill pickles!

The sweet pickles are just as easy — only quicker — ready to enjoy in eight hours. Cucumbers never tasted so good. These pickles are quick. They’re easy and best of all — so good.

Quickie sweet cucumber/onion pickles

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup rice-wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, thinly sliced

2 cups thinly sliced garden-fresh cucumbers

6 fresh sprigs of dill

Whole peppercorns

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt, stirring until dissolved and stir in olive oil.

Place sliced onions and cucumbers in a glass, plastic or ceramic bowl and pour vinegar mixture over. Toss to coat vegetables and add peppercorns to taste (about a teaspoon). Cover and refrigerate overnight or eight hours to pickle.

Mixture will keep, refrigerated, for about a week.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm and the National Garden Bureau. Her gardens are in Camden.

Growing cucumbers with sunflowers is a great companion planting; cucumber vines can climb sunflower stalks. Lynette L. Walther