AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Dutch farmers whose slow-growing cucumbers have been causing them headaches may have found a solution _ aspirin. For the cucumbers, that is.

Scientists with the respected Dutch research institute TNO have discovered that feeding aspirin to young cucumber plants helps prevent thickening of the root walls.

Plants with thick root walls absorb water and minerals less easily than those with thin root walls, leading to slower growth.

``Aspirin doesn't remove the cause of the thickening, but it reduces the level of damage,'' plant physiologist Sjoukje Heimovaara was quoted as saying in Tuesday's edition of the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

Aspirin contains an acid also made naturally by plants to protect themselves. No trace of the aspirin, which was fed to plants in a solution, was found in the cucumbers themselves.

A Dutch farmers' organization is investigating whether the active ingredient in aspirin can be registered for use to protect their cucumbers. Until it is, farmers won't be allowed to prescribe it to their plants.

Researchers also are planning to extend their experiment to eggplants, tomatoes and peppers.