Friday, May 27, 2022

I Just Keep Growing the Striped Carosello Leccese

With all of the growing of cucumbers that I do, I don’t always get to eat as much as I would like. Despite growing them twice in 2019 and once with a farmer in mid 2020, by later in the season in 2020, I knew I would be ready to enjoy some more Striped Carosello Leccese, so I planted some in the fertile garden.













After years of growing carosello and other cucumber-melons, I really get to a point where I just want to enjoy the fruit – at least occasionally. The tender, yet crisp texture, the rich complex flavor, the beautiful light and dark green fruit. Everything about the Striped Carosello Leccese just makes my mouth water.

Growing later on in the season inevitably exposes my plants to powdery mildew and this year was no exception. Like the consistency of the change of season, the warm days and cool moist mornings welcome in the season of powdery mildew like clockwork.

















While I was a bit frustrated with getting powdery mildew again, gardening is always a game of chance. Gardeners are almost always trying to squeeze as much productivity as they can out of their soil with every possible hour of sunlight that they can. But as soon as disease begins to take hold, leaving plants in the ground any longer than is absolutely necessary is asking for trouble. In my garden, disease is an unwelcome guest. If I don’t remove diseased plants as soon as possible, I’m just inviting the disease to take up residence. No thank you!






















On a side note, the Scientific Gardener blog has been going for over 10 years now. While I am not the source of all gardening knowledge or even pretend to be, I have learned some things that have helped me to be more successful in my gardening endeavors. Looking towards the future, I hope that your gardening experience is one of continual growth and learning. Try something new, experiment a little, be willing to learn from your garden – because the garden is waiting for you, if you are ready for yet another adventure.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Meloncella Galatina Double Check

As a seed saver and seller, I have to be very careful to keep each variety of cucumber and melon separate from each other. Specific protocol must be followed to ensure each variety is what is stated on the label. To do this, I generally keep each batch of seed properly labeled and separate from other varieties beginning with seed extraction, fermentation (if needed) to drying, to further processing and finally to long-term storage of the viable dry seed. When one is dealing with multiple varieties of seed that look identical to each other, it can be easy to mix things up.






One day while I was processing more than one kind of seed on the same day (something I don’t recommend) and was working on a specific variety in an unlabeled container. After being distracted by a movie my family was watching, I suddenly realized that I no longer remembered which variety of cucumber I was dealing with. While I did suspect the seed was the Meloncella Galatina, I could not be sure. So I labeled the seed as “Likely Meloncella Galatina”, sprouted a few and started growing it out in my greenhouse.

 After growing in a 10 inch hydroponic basket for a while, I discovered that the variety in question was indeed the Meloncella Tonda Galatina. What a relief!

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Meloncella Tonda di Galatina

For years I have grown Cucumis melo (muskmelon) fruits that are grown immature as cucumbers. Some of the highest quality of these are a type of C. melo variety Adzhur that are grown in Southern Italy. These are shorter type of cucumber called “carosello” that are grown for its tender, yet crisp texture and complex rich flavor. The majority of these cucumbers were grown by individual farming families for hundreds of years.



One of these carosello varieties is called The Tondo (or round) Galatina. The fruit of this round dark variety originates in Galatina, Italy that was recently saved from extinction by biopatriarchs Vito Mele and Francesco Bramato. The photosensitive fruit of these plants exhibit bitter-free flesh with good texture, a very mildly rich pleasant flavor and a curious fruity aroma.









What does photosensitive mean in relation to fruit? It means that the more the fruit is exposed to direct sunlight the darker the fruit becomes. Soon after the female fruit sets (is successfully pollinated) the fruits that are in direct sunlight display much darker color than those that are shaded by leaves. While all the fruit do eventually darken up many of those that become the darkest are those that were exposed to direct sunlight.Initially I had the idea that I would grow another variety of carosello cucumber first in the season. The variety was called Cucummaro di San Donato. I felt that I should grow the Tondo Galatina and, in hindsight, I am very glad that I did. The main reason why I am glad that I did has to do with when I began harvesting the fruit. Either this variety is very difficult to pollinate or is parthenocarpic. Either way, the total harvest of 10-20 fruit resulted in only a meager amount of seed. Growing the Tondo Galatina earlier in the season gave me the time I needed to try something new.


Sometimes gardeners do strange things to get desired results. Even things that would otherwise be unacceptable in other context, such as damaging a living thing, can occasionally be beneficial in the garden. Previously, I was told of gardeners who whipped their plant large tomato plant near the end of the season when it was not producing fruit. Whipping the plant with a thin apparently produced sufficient stress to induce budding and fruit set.

Just in case my whipping trial was successful, I decided to take a video of it. A couple weeks after being whipped, the majority of the fruit began producing much more seed. Whether this directly had to do with being whipped or not, I cannot say for certain. Obviously, the seed is pollinated extremely early on in its development, so not all of the seed set can be attributed to whipping. More likely, this variety requires a long season and requires very good pollination for fruit set. The first fruit may almost always be sterile and free of seeds. As this is the very first time I have grown this round dark cucumber, I cannot say for certain.

Of all the varieties I have ever grown, this one was one of the most interesting. Not specifically in the flavor - which was more like the bland light Leccese than the rich striped Leccese – but more in the smell. The smell was something fruity that I could not quite describe. The best I can describe it is somewhat like mango, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The shape of the fruit is round, but also has ribs or ridges that go from the top to the bottom of the fruit. While historical evidence has demonstrated its presence in a book published in 1845, the fruit itself has been around for much longer.Fruit of this variety is fairly simple to harvest. By the time the fruit is mature and beginning to decay, it can be cut open and the seeds harvested without additional processing. Any gel remaining on the harvested seeds is easily removed by kneading or beating the seeds and pulp prior to rinsing them out in a colander.

For those who would like to grow the Carosello Galatina, I would say that it is not for beginners. Sure, it takes much less work than most tomato plants, but in order to produce seed, it requires much more time and attention than the majority of other Armenian or carosello cucumber varieties