You may wonder why it has taken me well over a year to
write this post. The reason is really hard to describe. After looking for a
striped cucumber called the Meloncella Faciata (banded watermelon or banded carosello
in the local dialect) I thought that I had found what I was looking for back in
2018. However, after finding the taste and texture to not be what I was
thinking, it took season of looking until I found the Striped Carosello Leccese. This was a variety I had been looking to acquire for at least 6 years
before I found it.
Second Crop of Striped Carosello Leccese
July 20th, 2019 - Putting out Transplants
August 8th - fruit shows color when grown in direct sun
Picture that you
had been trying to find something special for years. Imagine that you
have no idea how to get it. You contact everyone who has access to that
variety and find out that no one is willing to share it with you. What
do you do? Do you give up or do you keep trying? I just kept looking and
looking and looking for years until I was blessed to finally get this
cucumber. And it was worth it. The consistent taste, texture and color
was all worth the wait.
August 20th - notice pillbugs - they do nibble on the fruit!
Then came the
question as to what to call it. The gentleman who I received seed from
said that this variety, “has been cultivated as long as he knows of in
his area of lower Salento, near Gallipoli. It is a very rustic and
productive plant”. He had previously mentioned to me that it was of
ancient origin – meaning that he did not know how far back it had been
grown. Though it came from Gallipoli, it is also grown in other areas in
the Lecce area. Knowing that “banded” would not mean much to most
people and that “Meloncella” was not being used by any other of my
cucumber-melon varieties, I settled on the “Carosello Leccese Striped”.
As the local educational institution, the local seed preservation
organization and the local agricultural distributer all saw this
cucumber variety in conjunction with the Light Leccese and the Dark Leccese, it was the most practical way to name it.
Having grown this
plant to seed previously, I knew it better the second time. Instead of
worrying if it would turn out okay, I went out just to look at it and
enjoy. Sure, I knew that starting plants in mid-August may not result in
harvestable seed, but this was more than about the seed – now I was
growing for the sheer pleasure of growing something that I love.
This one of my favorite parts of the season. I even made a little video about it.
Critters eating the carosello from below weaken the fruit - which then rots.
September 23rd, powdery mildew
September 24th, after sitting in chlorinated pool.
I believe the
hardest part about this is that it doesn’t last. Yes – it is nice that I
can a gardener can grow beautiful vegetables, but to see them succumb
to powdery mildew while in their prime was difficult. I wasn’t really
ready to let them go and nearly everyone I shared seed with said that
they were the best cucumber they had ever tasted. With that, I wish each of you a bountiful harvest!