Tuesday, 2 September 2014
This isn't all about squash, in as far as I understand the term, it's about a more diverse range of cucurbits, but I can't pass up the chance for cheesy alliteration. If anyone can formally define the difference between 'squash' and 'pumpkin' please give it your best in the comments.
Despite my disappointment with the breeding programme the plants haven't had a bad year. This was my first try at dudi or bottle gourd and it's sort of a success. I was planning to grow the plant in the greenhouse but it was so vigorous that encouraged by the ragingly hot weather at the time I moved it into the garden where it settled in quickly enough. It's still flowering now but male and female flowers don't seem to open at the same times. If I hadn't hand pollinated this fruit (with a withered male flower at that) it would have failed to produce entirely. I don't know if this is chance or design but it's probably a case for growing several plants at once.
This year's other novelty the Shark's fin melon has been worrying me. It was slow to get going after planting out and for a while I feared it had a viral infection because the leaves were showing distinct mottling but it seems to have shrugged that off now and is demonstrating more of the behaviour I expected; vining vigorously and rapidly across the area assigned to it and producing copious flowers but until the last week or so only male ones. The newly formed baby fruit of the last week are consequently tiny. This is cutting it fine in my opinion. Hardier than the average they might be but there's barely time for those babies to mature unless we have an excellently warm autumn. Fingers crossed.
The Black Futsu have done fairly well. The fruits are so much bigger this year than last I wondered if they had also become contaminated by rogue pollen but I think they are just responding to better soil conditions and higher moisture levels. I wasn't planning on saving seed from these this year anyway and as the single plant of Moschata has failed to fruit completely they will be a reasonable substitute for the stores.
Courgettes, how I tremble when I hear your name. I think I have to stop myself from ever growing an F1 courgette again. They are just too prolific. The picture was taken this morning and shows they are still in fine fettle even with a dusting of mildew on the older leaves. I have a couple of ways of using them that I can bear in fritters and soup but mostly, bleh. I need a family here or a corps of farm volunteers to feed before it's really justifiable to grow more than one plant each year.
There were several Whangaparoa Crown type plants and not all of them seem (on the outside) to have been affected by the rogue crossing of last year. We'll have half a dozen grey blue fruits that I expect will keep well enough. I'm still not sure whether to try to 'grow out' the undesirable characteristics or just start again with fresh seed. We've talked of making seed gardens at each end of the farm where it would be easier to maintain isolation from the main beds but it's a faff and an expense and my heart isn't prepared for any more set backs. I might just give it up.
And this is the degenerate reprobate that revealed the flaw in my manipulations. Actually, if I were simply looking for a new variety it has some fine points, the plant was very early and strong growing and the fruits aren't huge (I feared the Big Max effect) but neat and flattened in shape. I don't know what the eating or storage qualities will be but I expect they're good. As a potential addition to the range of pumpkins I'm sure some would keep it but there are an awful lot of varieties out there already and since I'd have to grow this on for some seasons to ensure it was stable it's probably not worth the effort, particularly if it's inherited that outcrossing ability that brought it into the garden in the first place.
Anyone for pumpkin pie?