Friday, February 28, 2020

The Fertile Garden - 2018 Edition

A wonderful opportunity came to our family in the spring of 2018 when my son was given the opportunity to help mow the lawn and help weed at a friend’s home. The friend’s backyard once had an above-ground pool connected to a deck. After the pool was removed, he put grass where the pool once was and put a garden along the edges of the yard.

Over the years, he has incorporated his lawn clippings (without pesticides or herbicides) with high carbon material to make compost. He lets this sit for a year, then in the spring he mixes the compost with his garden soil and tosses any clumps of hard clay into the trash bin. The soil he tosses is much higher in quality than most people’s fertile soil. Along the edges he grows his vegetables. He mostly grows things he enjoys such as peas, pole beans, corn and tomatoes.

Over time, due to family demands, he has not had the opportunity to use the whole yard and, after receiving permission to plant a couple cucumber plants, he has allowed me to expand to much of his area. In return, I compost all of my plant material in his compost bin and keep the area basically weed-free while the plants are growing there. In addition, I have recently been adding my own compost to his already fertile soil.

The very first plants I grew were a mix of three different plants. One was a Medium Long of Tarantino, the other an unknown variety and that third was a medium long of Barese. The unknown variety and the medium long of Barese were from my friend Angelo. I grew all three of these in and around a little cube that the plants could trellis up.

Once I was mostly done growing these out, my friend allowed me to utilize some more space to grow out the Carosello Barese. Finally, I tried growing out the Carosello Tarantino from the seed packet one last time.

The end of the season along with powdery mildew

Friday, February 21, 2020

2018 Dark Armenian Cucumber

Many gardeners do all they can to maximize their crop production over the summer. In order to do this, they will often begin early with transplants, utilize vertical space, make succession planting and end as late as possible. With each of these techniques, I am as guilty as any gardener in wanting to squeeze as much out of my summer garden as possible. In mid July of 2018 my Carosello Tondo Tarantino was still on the vine, but all the male flowers were withering away. I made quick work to plant out a few transplants of the Long Dark Armenian cucumber-melon.

One of the little harvests from my late Dark Armenian Cucumber crop.

Seeds from this cucumber-melon came from my 2016 grow-out. Although I have yet to produce a consistently long growout of this cucumber, I will continue my breeding work.

The plants grew pretty well, but by the time September came around, so did the cool humid nights. Along with the cool humid nights comes one thing every cucumber-melon grower dreads. Yep – powdery mildew. Though my theory is that the long dark Armenian came into existance as a cross between the striped Armenian and the long dark Armenian cucumbers, it seems that any of the powdery mildew resistence of the striped Armenian variety remained with its cultivar. During the majority of my growing season I am able to stay clear of this menace. However, I am beginning to feel that if I want to ever grow another cucumber-melon variety after Labor Day (near the beginning of September in the United States) then I’ll have to grow the Striped Armenian (AKA: Painted Serpent).

 Unlike most other cucumber-melon varieties that I produce, the Painted Serpent grows excruciatingly slow in its development. However, its cold-tolerance and disease resistance is unmatched by other cucumber-melons – so it may be a very good variety to try as a end-of-season transplanted crop.

 So – the harvest from this last attempt at cucumbers was pretty meager. Even with a meager harvest, its nothing to complain about. Though my final crop did not produce in the way I wanted, this was a long shot. Additionally, this dark Armenian cucumber was the third cucumber-melon variety I had grown in my garden during that summer.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Random Light Carosello in the Chicken Garden

Occasionally I find something in my garden, such as an off-type plant or something less desirable and I decide I don't really want to grow it out to seed.

This was definitely the case of this carosello. It grew as one of the Carosello Spuredda Leccese from an unnamed seed retailer. Let's just say - it didn't match the description nor did it remain in the garden for long.

Unwanted cucumber-melon = Snack time.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Spotted or Splotched Dark Leccese

Another really great find from growing out carosello varieties in the chicken garden was a dark Leccese variety that I got from my Italian friend Angelo. I talked about Angelo and other Italian friends in my article on Amici dell'orto back in 2014. It was not until 2018 that I finally got to growing out this and another carosello variety he had sent to me.

July 18th, 2018

July 11th

July 14th

The seeds were planted around July 11th and grown out to fruit until September 29th. At first I didn’t think much of this variety. It is dark and has splotching. But then, I began to notice that the blotching has a pattern. There are underlying stripes in the light spot/splotches. If anyone else can come up with a better name than splotches, please let me know! (=

August 23rd

August 30th

Though many of the fruit did not turn out cylindrical like I would have preferred, I did notice one plant growing more fruit more cylindrical than the rest. Although there must have been some cross-pollination between it and other fruit, I decided to save this particular fruit to see what it might become next year. For one thing: it definitely has potential.

September 8th

September 29th

The fruit itself is slightly firm, but not too dry. It is definitely worth trying out.

Opening the fruit for seed in late October, 2018.

One interesting thing about this variety is that the seeds are quite thin – so I have to be quite careful when using the colander so that the seeds do not fall through.