Friday, June 14, 2024


When I was growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would see tree frogs all the time. Now, it is a very rare opportunity when I see one. I wanted to share my rare sighting of a Pacific Tree frog in Antioch, California.






Friday, June 7, 2024

Long-shot Tondo di Manduria

In late July I started a planting of Tondo Manduria from some seed my friend Angelo provided me with in 2013. It is amazing how well his seed has germinated all these years later. In any case, my desire to get the fruit to seed was pretty futile, due to the prevalence of Powdery Mildew. By the time I got around to the plot, the disease had established itself so firmly, that there was little I could do.
















Like all other populations of the Tondo Manduria, this variety expresses multiple phenotypes in the same population. The term we often use for this is “polymorphic”. The Tondo di Manduria generally has two expressions for vine length, fruit shape and color. The vines can be long or compact, the shape can be round or cylindrical and the color can be light or light with splotching. I personally prefer the compact vines that produce round fruit with splotching.

























Within this population, the vines and fruit expressed all the regular traits correlated with the commercial strains of this variety. In the end, the fruit I picked didn’t mature any further, but just began to rot – so I was forced to harvest mostly immature seeds that I had to toss.

Friday, May 31, 2024

A Russian cucumber melon in the raised bed.

So I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Russian Ogurdynya snapmelon (C. melo var momordica) that I grew in the late Summer of 2023. It was just like the other ones that I had grown previously in the greenhouse and did pretty well. I was just so busy taking care of so many other plots that I didn’t have the time needed to give this variety attention.






Additionally, the texture of the Ogurdynya – which some claim to be related to the carosello – is nothing like a carosello. The outer layer is somewhat hard while the inner layer is much softer, becoming very seedy and gelatinous as the fruit matures. So, while the Ogurdynya is not bitter, it is not that exciting a fruit either. 








The one thing I will give to this variety is that it is very vigorous. I believe that if I were to pick the fruit when immature, the vines would pump out a lot more fruit. I never found this out for certain, as I always just left the vines go to seed.

Friday, May 24, 2024

The Vorgebirgstrauben Cucumber

For some reason, I tend to grow a lot of cucumber varieties with long names. The Vorgebirgstrauben, or ‘Vorge’ for short is no exception. I really enjoyed this unique German pickling cucumber.



I really like when a cucumber variety like 'Vorge' has defining characteristics that set them apart form other cultivars. With conspicuous black spines and stubby dimpled fruit that is darker on the stem side than the ends, it is unlikely that the Vorge would not be mistaken for any other cucumber variety in the garden. 





As advertised, the Vorgebirgstrauben cucumber possessed dense flesh and was very productive. These characteristics make it ideal as a pickling cucumber. Though the flavor wasn’t bad, I definitely prefer slicing cucumbers to be at least free of spines, if not dimples.

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Tokiwa Cucumber

For me, the Tokiwa was a very good long Japanese-style cucumber. Apparently very disease resistant, most east Asian cucumber varieties are also very tolerant of the heat. One Japanese variety I previously grew, Yomato, did extremely well and was very productive despite being grown in Tucson in late July and early August. Likewise, Tokiwa took the heat of the garden very well.





Though my plants grew well, I believe the Tokiwa cucumbers would have done much better than they did if I had given it more space. I would definitely grow this variety in full sun and trellis the vine so that the fruit can have ample room to spread and so that the hanging fruit can grow straighter.




Above anything else that impressed me about the Tokiwa cucumber was the texture. The first bite took be by surprise as the fruit had a outer crispness and an inner tender texture that I really enjoyed.