On the left we have Genovese zucchini, with Lazy Housewife green beans in the middle, and Caserta zucchini on the right. Three new varieties for us this summer; how did they do?

Genovese Zucchini:

This one is a perfectly nice little zucchini, as far as I can tell, with a perfectly nice little compact but open bush. We have gotten a few zucchini from it, but it has by no means been prolific. As I’ve noted before this has been a tough, tough summer for the cucurbits in general. This one has struggled along, not an absolute failure but not standing out for having what it takes to succeed in the face of adversity either. Looking for info on it online, I see one grower describing it as a shy bearer, so it may not just be the weather. Other people – people selling seeds, to be sure – describe it as prolific. Mm. Okay.

Supposedly this is an Italian heirloom variety. I don’t doubt it originates in Italy, but I don’t know how old it actually is. The small open bush habit suggests to me more modern breeding than something with more robust and rangy vines. Overall it is a bit like a smaller and more decorous version of Costata Romanesca, and I’d have to say with a still pleasant but ordinary flavour to go along with the reduced size.

We’ll be giving this another try, since we still have seeds, but unless it does a bit better next year I’m not sure it’s going into the regular rotation.

Lazy Housewife Green Beans:

In spite of the sparse picking I came up with for the photo op, this bean has done very well for us this year. It didn’t get started quite as early as Algarve, but it’s still an early bean. We got a very bountiful first few weeks from our plants, after which they slowed down but are still producing beans steadily. We have left quite a few plants to go to seed so we can grow more of them next year, so our harvest has been even more impressive when I consider how few plants are actually being picked.

The beans are long and thin and rather squared off in shape. The skin texture seems a bit rough, even though they are soft to the touch and the beans stay tender until they hit a fairly large size. The flavour is mild but good. Some listings describe them as “greasy”, that is to say having a very smooth, shiny skin, but that is not the case with the ones I am growing. Some listings also described them as late, which they absolutely were not. They may be old enough as a variety that there are several fairly different strains out there. Mine came from Annapolis Seeds. I note that Burpee lists a “Lazy Housewife” that they introduced in 1885, that looks very different and is plainly a completely unrelated bean. It appears to have a much shorter, fatter pod with fewer and rounder beans.

If you fail to pick them green, they will go on to produce a good crop of dry white beans. I haven’t eaten them as beans yet, but they will probably look a lot like Great Northern beans. There are going to be so many (from one little packet) that there will be plenty to save for seed and still we will be able to have a meal from the leftovers.

They are a pole bean, and will need a good sturdy trellis. Vines can get quite long.

The name comes from the fact that these were one of the first “stringless” string beans, back in the first decade of the nineteenth century. (I’ve seen introduction dates of both 1802 and 1810.) You probably save up to two minutes every time a batch is prepared for a meal. Wow, that’s some slacking off! Don’t spend your saved time all in one place. But do grow these beans; they are very rewarding.

Caserta Zucchini:

This is another zucchini from the mid 20th century (it was released by the University of Connecticut and won an All-American Award in 1949) that is modeled as better-behaved Costata Romanesca or Cocozelle type zucchini. Like Genovese, I’m not sure it quite lives up to that promise. It’s managed to be a bit more productive than the Genovese (although on reflection I think we planted 1 Genovese and 2 Caserta, so they may be very similar) but still, in this admittedly difficult year, it hasn’t been going gangbusters.

The plant is a similar compact bush, good for small gardens. In a side-by-side taste test with Genovese, we all (three of us) preferred the Casterta. It seemed a little sweeter and juicier, somehow; but with a very small sample size it’s hard to tell if that was just the luck of the draw so far as perfect ripeness went. They were really not wildly different in flavour and were both highly reminiscent of other zucchini we have eaten.

It’s a little too early to know how they deal with the inevitable powdery mildew; that will certainly have an effect on our decision to re-grow or not.

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