Friday, May 10, 2019

Carosello Barese

After clearing out some Carosello in the fertile garden last summer, I decided to grow a cucumber-melon variety called Carosello Barese.

Carosello Barese Sprouting - July 16th

Carosello Barese, July 30th

Full disclosure - what I was trying to grow was a variety that a friend had grown the year before that had dark flecking on a light skin. The idea was that I was going to grow out the same seed and find the same kind of Carosello. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Carosello Barese, August 1st

My Carosello Barese vines grew incredibly quickly. The female flowers began growing out around 3 weeks after germination.

Carosello Barese, August 7th

First Female Flower Setting, August 10th

More fruit set, August 14th

Carosello Barese, August 23rd

There was a small amount of overlap between the male flowers of another Carosello and these, so I made sure to harvest the first fruit of this variety to ensure pure seed.

How many female Carosello Barese fruit can you count?

Though I didn’t take any pictures of the fruit cut open, it was quite delicious. The Carosello Barese has a thin crisp slightly crunchy skin on the outside that gives way to a cool juicy flesh on the inside.

Along with my first harvest came the cooler nights. As the soil was watered daily, it was nearly always moist. Older plants + declining sunlight + excessive moisture + cool nights is the perfect combination for powdery mildew. I removed as much of the vines with the powdery mildew but, as many gardeners know, once it is established, it can be very difficult to control.

Composting Vines with Powdery Mildew

When confronted with this kind of situation, I assess my best options. Powdery Mildew is not something that travels through seed (as long as the outside of the fruit is cleaned properly). The next step was to ensure healthy seed could be retrieved was to remove all the smaller and unhealthy fruit. This will enable the vines to distribute the majority of their strength into the remaining fruit. 

Carosello Barese, September 3rd

Powdery Mildew, September 15th

In the end, all the good fruit was gathered while the less desirable fruit and vines were composted. I usually would not compost diseased vines, but this compost is made primarily of grass clippings, which heat up so much that it kills the disease.

Composting the remainder of the affected vines

Fruit for Seed

Carosello Barese pear and oval fruit

Leaving on the counter for seed

Another trick to maturing carosello fruit for seed, is to leave it in a cool dark place. By doing this, it allows the fruit to feed the seed as much as possible before it begins to decay. Once the fruit turns white and feels soft to the touch it is wise to harvest the seed. Checking the fruit every day is best practice, for if the seed saver waits too long, it can lead to very messy results.

Mature fruit

The innards of a mature fruit

Carosello Barese Sementi (Seeds)

So there you have it – the Carosello Barese!

The Carosello Barese

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Redleaf Lettuce in Wine Barrel

Over time, I have often noticed small weeds trying to grow from the sides of my wine barrel planter. Sometime over the winter I decided that, if weeds can do grow there - then veggies can too.


I planted some Outredgeous red lettuce seed in the side of the barrel by poking some small seeds in the side, then adding a bit of very fine compost.

When I say "red lettuce seed" I don't mean the seed is red. It's the lettuce that turns red: you'll see! 

The lettuce grew pretty slow at first, so I added a little more soil to them.

Once the little plants were established, they did really well. They kept growing until the heat set in.

I was a bit worried that the heat would turn them bitter, so I harvested all of the outside leaves when the lettuce finally began to wilt. Fortunately, they were very sweet. No bitterness at all. That is a lot more than I can say for the greenleaf lettuce grown in the main garden. The green looseleaf lettuce turned bitter. Perhaps it had to do with how little I watered it?

Finally, for those of you inclined to watch my lettuce grow, here is a little GIF.

 I hope you have a bountiful harvest wherever you choose to garden this spring.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Garden Fun with Favas Part 2 - Snap Fava Beans & Favism Warning

A lot has happened in a few short weeks over here. In order to ensure that my greenhouse was getting sufficient light, I began chopping down the fava beans around the greenhouse. In the process of chopping, I discovered something.

The mighty Favas continue their upward progress

The first thing that I discovered was that bees were pollinating the fava beans.

Look closely and you will see a bee.

Slightly closer.

The second thing I discovered were that the fava beans were growing. A lot of them.

In fact, the fava beans were growing so much, that I could actually harvest some to try. Though I had heard that people do eat fava beans in their immature "snap" long bean stage, I had never tried this. There seem to be no recipes online or any indication that anyone had actually ever eaten snap fava beans and lived to tell the tale. So, being the ever-courageous gardener that I am, what do I do?

That's right - fava beans are on the menu. And why not? Once they start going into blossom the plants can quickly set dozens of beans on each plant - so here is the report:


This time: stir fry with a some melted butter

My report is that they are quite good. Given that I have tried both Chinese Long Beans and purple hyacinth bean (both of which require salt blanching) I was expecting the worst. My wife said they tasted like beans - not too bad. (However, she later became sick from eating them (Please see the information below). There is just a bit of a fresh asparagus aftertaste, but nothing like the old metallic asparagus aftertaste of the aforementioned beans. This aftertaste is quite pleasant, in comparison. They also taste really good steamed.

Important Update: Be very careful when eating Fava Beans. There are some populations of people throughout the world that can be poisoned by fava beans. If you are trying them out and cooking them for the first time, start with a few and start small. For more information, please see the linked article and map for information about G6PD enzyme deficiency and information about the associated allergic reaction to fava beans that is known as favism.