Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Second Crop of Striped Carosello Leccese

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

July 30th

August 8th - fruit shows color when grown in direct sun

August 14th

August 16th

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 17th

August 20th - notice pillbugs - they do nibble on the fruit!

August 21st

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.

August 23rd

August 24th

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.

August 28th

This one of my favorite parts of the season. I even made a little video about it.

September 4th

September 9th

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!

Your Friend in Gardening,


October 19th, 2019