Friday, December 27, 2019

December Garden Beneficials

As you enjoy your holidays, I thought I would share a little of what those of us in the moderate part of California can find in our garden in December. While adult mantids are most often seen between August and September in the northern hemisphere, females can often live longer in moderate climates. I found this girl on a bush in the courtyard of a school that I work at.

 Mantids often find both food and refuge on bushes with flowers. This is because the bushes provide cover from predators while flowers attract the mantid's prey. Additionally, depending upon the mantis and their preference for egg laying surfaces, a bush can provide a perfect place for a female to lay her egg case or ootheca.

Mantids live much of their lives upside down

Friday, December 13, 2019

Taste Comparison of the Striped Carosello Leccese Cucumber with the Carosello Spuredda Tarantino

It can be difficult for me to fully compare two of my cucumber-melon varieties. Each variety has its own unique qualities - its benefits and drawbacks. One variety may keep critters away better and not taste as well while another variety may taste incredibly good but have critter problems. One variety of cucumber-melon could be very fast but more prone to disease while a slower variety could be incredibly disease resistant. So in short: Here are a few things I discovered that distinguish the Striped Carosello Leccese from the Carosello Spuredda (or half-long) of Tarantino:

Striped Leccese on the left compared with younger Carosello Tarantino

1. The Striped Leccese begin light in color while the Spuredda Tarantino begin dark.

2. As they grow, the striped Leccese develop dark stripes on its ridges while the Spuredda Tarantino develops light bands between the ridge grooves.

3. The Striped Leccese has a mildly bumpy tender skin while the Spuredda Tarantino has a smooth slightly more firm skin.

4. The Striped Leccese has consistent high water content as soon as the fruit become over an inch wide while the water content of the Spuredda Tarantino is a little more variable.

5. The Striped Leccese grow out their foliage quickly and their fruit at a moderate pace while the Spuredda Tarantino produce a heavy crop from early to late.

6. The Striped Leccese has an extraordinarily smooth flesh texture while the Carosello Tarantino has a regular cucumber-melon flesh texture. 

7. The Striped Leccese produces almost no when mature while the Carosello Tarantino smells a lot like Mango when growing to seed.

If I think of anything else that distinguishes these two carosello varieties from each other, I'll be sure to add it to the list. Until then, I hope you enjoy my little video on the differences between these two carosello cucumber varieties:

Friday, November 29, 2019

Mostly Dark Leccese

What is sometimes advertised, but I have yet to grow myself, is a completely dark Carosello Leccese. As a side note: Spuredda means the same thing as Carosello, so what I the seed companies basically say is that it is a "Carosello Carosello" Leccese. I have worked to grow this variety out and I am still working on finding a completely purely dark line. When I planted out my seed at the chicken garden, I was expecting a lot more completely dark Carosello Leccese than not. The variety shown in this post is from the seed source that I am currently using for my Carosello Leccese dark seed for CucumberShop.

The mostly dark splotched Carosello Leccese

The completely dark Leccese are on the bottom right

August 11th, 2018.

August 14th

August 14th

When harvesting this variety, I found the flesh to be slightly crunchy (not too stiff) and the flesh to have adequate water content.

The plants were put into the ground somewhere before July 11th, 2018 and grew them out until somewhere around September 8th. Much of the fruit grew slowly – mainly due to the poor fertility of the rocky soil.

August 23rd

August 30th

September 8th

My mostly dark Carosello Leccese is definitely a variety worth either saving or finding a better seed source for (to find a more truly dark color) so that I can continue to grow it out in the future.

The mostly dark Carosello Spuredda Leccese

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

One of the Most Rewarding Vegetables

Dear Gardening Friends,

Along with the Urban Farm Podcast interview, I also wrote a little post for the Urban Farm Blog. The post includes some pictures of cucumber varieties that I grew this year will probably not get around to blogging about until this upcoming year.

Though it was not up for a while, the post finally got put online.

I hope you enjoy!

Your Friend in Gardening,


My second Striped Carosello Leccese harvest

Friday, November 15, 2019

Northern Pickling Cucumber

Northern Pickling was a verity that I decided to try out mainly to see what it tasted like, more than anything else. Although I really love growing Arkansas Little Leaf as a pickling cucumber, it is a little hard as a slicing cucumber. I happened to have seed of this variety and wanted to find out how well it did as a dual-purpose slicing and pickling cucumber.

The Northern Pickling Cucumber

June 26th, 2018.

July 2nd

July 23rd

July 28th


August 4th

August 8th

This variety grew out very well in the season. There was nothing especially significant about this cucumber’s growth. It did seem to do pretty well in the heavy clay soil that I grew them in. Like many other cucumber varieties – the richer the soil, the more intense the sunlight and the longer the day – the faster the cucumbers grow. The real limiting factors for this variety were the poor soil and the partial afternoon shade each day.

August 8th

Considering everything, the Northern Pickling cucumbers did quite well. Of all of my regular cucumber varieties that I trialed in 2018, they were the most productive.

August 11th

As it goes with flavor, they tasted very similar to grocery store cucumbers, but a little harder in the skins. This would definitely make them better for pickling than many other varieties. However, I did really enjoy growing this variety and would definitely grow it again for its productivity, color and versatility. As it goes with being a dual-purpose cucumber, Northern Pickling passed with flying colors.