Saturday, November 2, 2019

Interviewing with Greg Peterson on Urban Farm Podcast

Hoping to spread the good news of carosello and other cucumber-melons, I contacted Greg Peterson after completing a YouTube video about my Carosello Massafrese cucumbers. Greg Peterson is the host of The Urban Farm Podcast, which is a weekly podcast that focuses on small urban farms and more. According to the Urban Farm website, “The Urban Farm Podcast is your connection to the food revolution with twice-weekly conversations with some of the best and most innovative regenerative farmers and home gardeners out there, interviews with up and coming urban growers, and inspiration from healthy-food visionaries around the globe. All of our podcast guests are making a difference to create a better tomorrow and we believe they will inspire you to do the same.”

Because so much of what I do in my gardening and my attempts to expand my carosello selection requires incredible focus and endless patience with others, I hoped for, but didn’t completely expect a response. However, Greg responded very promptly and asked for me to register for a spot on the podcast. Soon thereafter, my submission was accepted. 

So grateful that I was able to interview with Greg

At first, I was really excited about the opportunity of interviewing with Greg. However, as time went on and I came up with more and more to talk about I was really concerned that I would not be able to really focus on the most important aspects of cucumber-melons and specifically, carosello cucumbers. Would others really get it? Would they understand how important it is to grow something that is incredibly easy and incredibly good?

Often times I am left to think of how others view my hobby and say to myself, “You don’t really know what this is, do you? If you knew what I am growing you would not think of it as odd or strange. Instead you would say, wow – these are incredible! How can I grow this?” Expressions of amazement and interest in growing my cucumbers is often what I hear from those who try out my carosello or other cucumber-melon varieties. As a side-plug, if you have never tried growing cucumber-melons, I highly recommend you start with the Striped Carosello Leccese.

The Striped Carosello Leccese - One of my favorites!

Despite my impatience and desire to get further into the subject, Greg was a very kind interviewer. One part of the podcast I really wished I had thought about more is what a landrace is. Wikipedia defines a landrace as “A landrace is a domesticated, locally adapted, traditional variety of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural and cultural environment of agriculture and pastoralism, and due to isolation from other populations of the species.” However, what is a landrace really? What makes a landrace different from the seeds a gardener saves from one plant year after year after year? The difference is population size.

The larger the population, the better the landrace

Though most people define a landrace as a specific variety of a plant grown in a specific area, the ability of the plant to be able to thrive in that and other locations is directly tied to its genetic variability. Though carosello are naturally genetically variable and can be grown in small populations over years, the more plants can be grown at one time, the greater the genetic variability and the better adapted that cucumber-melon variety will be to that climate, as well as any other climate that the cucumber-melon is grown in. The genetic variability and potential success of the variety to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions and other climates is strongly related to the genetic variability or population size of any crossing grow-out. Thus, my definition of a landrace is one specific variety grown in a large population that is isolated from other varieties. Though this may vary from the Wikipedia version, my definition is more solution oriented in that it confronts why varieties fail and how to prepare our seeds for an ever-changing climate.

In summary – I hope that if you are interested in cucumbers or cucumber-melons that you find the time to check out my interview with Greg on the Urban Farm Podcast

Friday, November 1, 2019

Salt and Pepper Cucumber

For some reason, I have had a pretty good track record with easy-growing tasty white cucumbers. One of the very first cucumbers I grew in Tucson was a white cucumber – I believe it was White Wonder. I started it very early in the season in a pot set right against the front of my house because of the radiant heat that would come off the brick. It didn’t produce a whole lot (probably because it was in a container) but it did taste good.

The Salt and Pepper Cucumber

June 26th, 2018

July 2nd

July 11th

July 18th

July 28th

August 8th

Salt and Pepper was one of the very first cucumbers to grow for me. As the soil was far from good, I can honestly say that this variety does well in poor soils. It also matured more quickly than a lot of the other cucumbers.

August 8th

I would have to say that it is not the kind of cucumber you could expect to last through the whole season, so it would be wise to do succession plantings with this variety. This does not mean that the plants succeed – though hopefully they will. Rather, succession plantings are when we plant an initial crop earlier than plant another one the next month, then another one the following month. In this way, we can enjoy a season full of cucumbers - or any other fast-growing vegetable that matures quickly and finish up earlier.

This cucumber starts out white, with distinct black colored spines. As the fruit matures, its skin becomes more of a creamy yellow. The taste of this variety is a good, with a very slight tangy aftertaste. Nothing too special, but definitely worth growing if you are going to grow regular cucumbers – especially at the beginning of the season.

August 13th

Friday, October 18, 2019

Growing Marketmore 76

My decision to grow out Marketmore 76 came from my desire to try out a classic. Other than eating cucumbers like this from the grocery store, I have never grown a “regular” grocery store type cucumber.

June 20th, 2018.

June 26th

July 2nd

July 11th

July 18th

July 28th

August 8th

This cucumber variety grew fine. It matured at a regular pace and had no problems. I enjoyed seeing all of the fruit. The first couple of cucumbers did not fill out properly, but after a while they did just fine. Average shape of this cucumber is the normal straight cucumber shape. Most of the cucumbers filled out without a problem.

August 23rd

August 30th


And here it goes with taste: The taste was a little better than a market cucumber. I would have to say it was pretty good – especially when it is homegrown. It is amazing how, just by growing your own cucumbers at home – you can get a cucumber that tastes much better than what you would purchase in the store.

September 8th

September 29th

None of mine turned out bitter, but it had the usual sappy flavor exhibited in most regular cucumbers that makes it difficult to have more than one. My overall take on this variety: If you want a completely average standard cucumber, this is the one for you.