Friday, May 26, 2023

Suisun Valley Garden Plot

So this is a possible garden plot that I could work on. I was told that a gentleman had some land that I could grow on. Unfortunately, the land owner did not have any water on the site that I could use. Without irrigation, it is very difficult to try to grow very much. He did say that there was some county water nearby and that I could contact someone to have it turned back on. However, I am not familiar with the process of doing this.














Perhaps I will try to do this another time. If I can get water to this location, then I can fight all the critters in the area in an attempt to grow a crop.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Creeping Cucumbers in their Native Habitat

While I was visiting with a sister-in-law in Louisiana, I noticed a spindly vine with leaves that looked very familiar to the cucamelon.





Sure enough, it was the Melethria pendula or Creeping Cucumber. I had never seen one of these cucumber varieties before, but it definitely did look a lot like a regular cucamelon. As I didn’t want to waste the seed from the fruit, I didn’t pick it immature – so I was not able to harvest seed from the fruit.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Working to Partner with a Farmer in Rio Linda for 2 Years

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to have my Striped Carosello Leccese cucumbers grown to seed by a Rio Linda farmer in 2021. We grew over 1 ton of cucumbers, with the majority of the fruit being harvested for seed. Because of this collaboration, I was able to grow and harvest a lot of fruit for seed processing and I was able to expand the seed companies that offer this incredible cucumber variety.


















In early 2022, through H&K Farms I was able to give a talk in Rio Linda at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. I had a very good time and I was expecting that this would be a turning point in working with the staff at H&K Farms. Unfortunately, this would just mark the beginning of the end for my relationship with this wonderful farming family.









It is difficult to maintain any relationship for long without proper communication. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a farmer in 2021, but I am also grateful for the ability to recognize when a relationship is no longer salvageable. I will continue to hope and pray that I will be able to find another farmer to help me maintain vigor in my most marketable carosello cucumber varieties.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Striped Carosello Leccese at H&K Farms

Back in 2020, I had a really good situation in that I was finally able to grow out one of my cucumber varieties with a local farmer. I had set aside several hundred dollars for him to grow out my cucumbers in quantity. It worked out relatively well. The farmer was with H&K Farms in Rio Linda and he grew out nearly 2000 pounds of Striped Carosello Leccese for seed. Out of that, I harvested around 20 pounds of high-quality seed.













Some of my favorite experiences were when I would go to check on the field or harvest fruit. I really enjoyed being part of the process and always looked forward to going back. Here is a quick video of me in the farmer’s field, trying out the Striped Carosello Leccese:




Over the course of the season, there were a lot of ups and downs. Unfortunately, a lack of communication at the end of the season made it very difficult to maintain the relationship. I continued to work to keep things going through the next season, but it was a real struggle.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Transplanting Sensitive Seedlings using Strawberry Baskets, or Tills

At the same time as I was planning out my Mezzo Lungo carosello trial, I was looking for a replacement for 4-inch soil blocks. Having sold off my 4 inch cubic soil blocker in 2020, I worked off and on throughout the winter to find a comparable replacement for the need to “pot up” 2 inch soil blocks. The issue is that if the plot where the 2” soil blocks are supposed to be planted is not ready, then the roots will struggle to continue to grow. Past experience taught me that this only results in stressed plants that will only experience pests and disease as a result. To avoid this problem, I needed a 4” solution. I looked at net cups, hydroponic baskets and square Vanda orchid baskets – but all of these solutions usually ended up not being large enough, not being the right shape to fit in a 10x20 seedling tray or being much too expensive to be practical.







Eventually, I ended up finding strawberry baskets. These would allow the soil to be mostly contained and the roots to grow through the gaps. After purchasing and returning old cheap baskets from Amazon that were the wrong size, I purchased s dozen nearly 4” square green plastic strawberry till baskets from Glacier Valley Enterprises – just to try out. While shipping for the initial product was expensive and the shipping for the actual product was worse, the baskets worked wonderfully. Though I was not necessarily wanting to use the baskets for all my planting, I realized that to get a head-start on my spring garden, I needed to have the baskets ready to go.







Good thing I had those baskets ready, because they really saved the day when the plot for my 2” seedlings was not ready to go. I was able to transplant my cucumber seedlings into the 4” strawberry baskets and the plants were able to grow until to full maturity – when I had to remove each plant and its plastic basket. 




So here are the pros and cons of utilizing Strawberry Baskets for transplanting seedlings with sensitive roots: 



-These containers buy the gardener 2-4 weeks more time for the garden bed to be ready

-It is quick and easy to put soil into the container and pot-up the 2” soil block

-Easy to transplant the 4 inch container into the ground

-The container is reusable and is easy to wash using a dish-scrubbing brush




-You have to go back and find the plastic container. This can be a bit of a chore – especially if the plant died prematurely or if transplanting in clay soils.

-There is a possibility of leaving some of the plastic in the ground

-Sometimes the container can be damaged and need to be thrown away.

-The containers are probably not UV resistant, meaning that they do not hold up well to sun damage.

-While the containers are reusable, they still need to be washed