Sunday, October 30, 2016
Over the years I've studied a lot of pumpkin varieties and never come across such a creature. Which, as a pumpkin collector, is exciting and frustrating at the same time. Finding pumpkin varieties and researching them in a Field Guide type manner can often lead to dead ends. Some of the most interesting finds aren't "official" varieties at all. They are crosses. Mutt pumpkins; meaning that two varieties were cross pollinated, then the resulting fruit produced seeds that have the potential to produce a cross variety.
Roadside stands often sell "true" pumpkin varieties because large pumpkin distributors don't usually save the seeds from pumpkins from their field. They usually order "true" seeds from a seed company so they can predict the result. Especially if they're growing more than one variety within close proximity of the other, where pollinators can easily wander from one field to the next.
Another reason large scale pumpkin growers order seeds rather than save them, is that sometimes cross pumpkin will be barren of fruit. You may get a nice, trailing vine, but often the plant is sterile.
My gut told me that this was a cross, even though I found it at a market, and even though there were many similar pumpkins at this particular stand, but I bought it anyway with the hope of finding a new variety.
After I brought it home I started the research where I always do. With one of my favorite books by Amy Goldman, The Compleat Squash. If you have interest in anything pumpkin, squash or gourd related, I recommend this book. I treat it like a field guide for pumpkins, and browse through the beautiful photographed images whenever I find a new specimen.
With no luck, I turned to the internet. Each night I spent a bit of time researching different search combinations, and I couldn't find anything like it.
After much frustration, I contacted Ms. Goldman directly, and she generously took the time to answer my pumpkin inquiry. She too didn't recognize it as a categorized type, so I am officially checking this one off as a cross.
I feel like it probably has some Rouge Vif D'Etampes in it. That's probably where the true blood-red color is coming through, also the shape. For now it is a mystery pumpkin that I plan on saving the seeds from and growing as an experiment next year. I may get nothing, but it's worth the time to see what happens.