Friday, August 25, 2023

A Short Season for the Dark Armenian Cucumber

Many years farmers and gardeners try to push their growing season as far into the unseasonable conditions as possible. While I don’t fully understand the psychology behind this absurd practice, a lack of understanding does not exclude me from fully participating in it each year – even when I know better. Despite the fact that I have never been able to make it through a September in Fairfield without Powdery Mildew or another factor related with the shorter days and cooler nights, I continue to unreasonably hope that somehow this year will be different.





This year my hope-beyond-hope unseasonable variety was the Dark Snake Melon, Dark Armenian or Tortarello Barese. I knew that I had little chance of getting this late-maturing variety grown to maturity in the time that I had, but yet I persevered. Alas, it was a fools errand. I was unable to attend to the garden as often as I needed to and the familiar white spore soon enveloped the leaves and spread across the entire bed.











The one consolation I have to my inability to learn from my yearly experience, I am never one to pass up the consolatory prize. If I am unable to grow the fruit to seed, I am at least able to enjoy the immature fruit. Perhaps a positive consequence to unwise behavior is why I have never learned my lesson. Oh well. If this is the worst mistake I make, at least I can say that the result was tasty.

Friday, August 18, 2023

A Short Season for Salt & Pepper

Immediately after I could distinguish the smooth Carosello Leccese from the other more scalloped fruit in my Carosello Leccese trial, I cleared the smooth-fruited plants out in order to make room for some Salt and Pepper cucumbers. I was critically low on seed and it was important for me to try growing them. The Salt and Pepper cucumbers did really well at first and they grew pretty well. Unfortunately, due to some kind of problem related to the soaker hose, the plants did not get the consistent amount of water that they should have.






Just like when I first grew out Salt and Pepper in the chicken garden, I really enjoyed growing this variety. It is an unassuming little variety that has a really nice texture, it is generally pretty consistent and good. It also did extremely well with fending off powdery mildew from a cucumber-melon variety growing next to it. 
















After the harvest and seed processing, I was very excited about being able to provide Salt and Pepper seeds to others. Unfortunately, for some reason, the germination turned out pretty poor. I allowed one of the mature fruit to sit until it became fairly soft, then harvested seed. I hope that this will enable me to harvest at least a little bit of good seed. I will also seek to find other small seed producers to determine if I can source this variety from another grower.

Friday, August 11, 2023

A Carosello Barese Trial

For years I have been seeing two kinds of Carosello Barese being sold by companies and grown by Italian gardeners. This has lead me to feel a great deal of confusion as to what the term "Carosello Barese" actually means. Though the Carosello Barese is one of the most well-known carosello cucumber varieties, some Italian friends and I have questioned whether the popular “Carosello Barese” is even a carosello variety at all. The reason we are questioning the validity of this popular Italian cucumber is that the Carosello Barese completely overlaps two other carosello varieties - the Carosello Bianco Leccese (Light Leccese) and the Carosello Mezzo Lungo Barese. While I had previously grown the Carosello Barese that looks like the Carosello Leccese Bianco, I had never grown the ridged variety that looks like the Mezzo Lungo Barese.


































To be able to conduct a proper study of these cucumber varieties, I needed to find a seed seller who had them both - to conduct a grow-out for myself. After many years of searching, I was able to acquire seeds of both varieties from a single seed supplier. I planted them in a raised bed garden and grew them both out mid-summer and covered them with netting when the other raised bed began flowering. As soon as the fruit began to set I noticed that the one variety looked just like the light Leccese. The Carosello Bianco Leccese is nearly hairless, juicy and very tender. The scalloped Carosello Barese variety was very productive yet extremely variable. While they were all fuzzy and scalloped, some were long and others were short. Some of the vines were bushy with clusters of fruit setting in the crown of the plant and others produce fruit further along the sprawling vines.












For comparison, the Mezzo Lungo Barese is a fuzzy scalloped cylindrical cucumber-melon variety. It is generally much more dense and slightly drier than most other carosello varieties. The scalloped fuzzy Carosello Barese that I grew had much higher water content than the Mezzo Lungo Barese. There seemed to be quite a bit lacking in the flavor of the scalloped Carosello Barese.



















Since I already had plenty of the smooth, nearly hairless Carosello Barese, I did not save seed of that variety. I did, however, save seed of the scalloped Carosello Barese. Sometimes discovering something new is exciting and enjoyable. Other times it is dull and lucklaster. While my experience growing out two of the Carosello Barese was more the latter, I’m grateful to have learned something new so I no longer have to wonder if I should try growing the Carosello Barese again.





































So what now? Where do I go with the Carosello Barese? I will likely sell seed that I have of the Carosello Barese and eventually only sell the Carosello Barese in the form of the Carosello Leccese Bianco. Perhaps if I ever find a good tasting light-colored Scopattizo Barese, I will market it as a scalloped Carosello Barese.