Friday, January 27, 2023

Carosello Spuredda Leccese Scuro

Very rarely do I come across a variety as good as the Carosello Spuredda Leccese Scuro. This is a dark green variety with a smooth skin and an exceptionally good rich flavor. While I had grown other variants of dark green Leccese carosello, I continued to struggle to find this beautiful variety.











Pillbug damage on a female blossom


































To clarify, it can be extremely difficult to find any carosello that is truly 100% dark. The majority of the time, even the very dark fruit begins with some light color and become darker based on genetics and the prevalence exposure to direct sunlight. The difference between this and other dark Leccese varieties I have grown is that this one does not retain the light color as much, but instead becomes darker as the fruit grows. Additionally, this variety has a much higher proportion of water content and a much more marketable texture.









































Unfortunately, I was not able to get all I wanted out of this crop this year. Despite giving all I could to the soil in the chicken garden, for various reasons, the Carosello Spuredda Leccese Scuro this year did not perform very well in this plot. One of the main factors was that the area in which this variety was grown was chock full of other plants – especially tomato plants - which really drained the life out of the cucumbers. Even with plenty of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, it seems that tomatoes may have even strip the soil exudates from around adjacent cucumber roots. In addition to the tomatoes, the lackluster performance of the soil (which I have been consistently amending for years) lead me to throw my hands up to growing cucumbers in the chicken garden.






















So, I discovered a really good carosello variety, but I grew in in a poor plot. Now what? Due to the nature of the soil and the garden, I decided to try another variety and come back to the Carosello Spuredda Leccese Scuro when I could give it the time and attention it deserves.

Friday, January 20, 2023


You may have noticed that some of the pictures that we have include a new member of the family. She is a Jack Russel Terrier mix of some kind or another. We picked her up from a local shelter. She had been found roaming the streets in Stockton and our local SPCA picked her up to keep her out of a kill shelter. Having a dog is both wonderful and full of work. It is a big responsibility that includes a lot of love.




















Friday, January 13, 2023

Don't Fallow if you don’t Rotate and my Triple Sterilization Method

So back in the fall of 2020 I thought of a fabulous idea. What if, instead of going through the work of growing another cover crop this winter, I just fallow the garden instead? With that thought, I decided to cover the garden with plenty of compost and a very nice leaf mulch. Everything went beautifully. That is until it came time to plant. The soil that had once grown healthy vigorous cucurbits was now nearly toxic to my cucumber transplants. All of the plants grew very slowly and performed poorly for several weeks in a row.

A struggling cucumber plant weeks after transplanting.

To test if the issue was the soil I did the following, which I now call the “Triple Sterilization Method” to clean the soil of any possible disease or pests that might be hindering my crop. Here are the steps to the method:

1. Get a plastic trash bag

2. Remove a layer of diseased garden soil and deposit it in the black bag.

3. Add brassicas and mustard greens (as a biofumigant)

4. Add nitrogen-rich water-soluble fertilizer

5. Add any water to make it moist.

6. Tie off bag and put in another black bag, if needed, to ensure everything is sealed.

7. Put in a warm sunny place (I put it in my greenhouse with the door closed)

8. Wait 1-2 weeks, then dump soil back into place, let it cool, then use for growing.

Returning soil to garden after  Triple Sterilization

The new thriving plants after triple-sterilizing the soil

So – the reason I named this the “Triple Sterilization Method” is because it uses physical heat, chemical heat and biofumigation as a means of sterilizing the soil. The results were impressive. It was not merely because I had added fertilizer, but because I had removed the pathogens that were holding my plants back from thriving.