Friday, October 7, 2011

Cinderella's Curried Butter Balls

Now that I am a fancy breeder, I understand why the cat lovers call their kitties these long names with detailed clues to their parentage.
This year's pumpkin harvest was amazing, and it is still continuing. This year I tried another experiment. Last year, I planted Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin (my favorite for how cool it looks), and also the standard Butternut squash varieties (my favorite for eating). Both varieties are in the group cucurbita maxima, so I had kind of an idea (and a hope) that they would cross.
I was interested in a smaller pumpkin than the fancy French kind that I now usually just call "Cinderella". Every time I wanted to boot one up, I had to find even more room in the fridge or find 20 friends to share it with. This year I even resorted to removing the produce bins to get some of a leftover pumpkin into cold storage. So, to this aim, I planted the saved seeds, and put the plants very close together, and hoped that the larger Cinderella had crossed with the smaller Buttercup and I'd end up with a smaller really cool red pumpkin that is still super tasty.
Well, so far, I am declaring success, even though I haven't actually tasted all of the varieties I came up with. Both potential parents are legends in the taste department, so I had no worries there. I probably ended up with about 10 plants and around 16 giant pumpkins. I got several shapes: the traditional Cinderella squat shape, a higher and boxier shape more like the butternut, and a round kind. All are the same bright orange-red color as Cinderella. Now the round ones are interesting. They have more of a green tinge at the bottom, and being almost perfectly round, have to rest on their sides. Though they were some of the first to fruit, they took more than a month longer to ripen than the others. And though the largest round specimen is only 8 inches wide, it weighs in at a hefty 12 pounds.
I am notoriously bad at keeping track of my seeds. Now to keep track of the 3 new varieties? This year I also planted some buttercup, but it didn't do too well, so I don't expect much additional crossing. In 2012, I'll probably plant last year's seed again, so I can get some additional selections.
Oh, and the curried? It's not about the color. I almost forgot. I also planted one Red Kuri pumpkin last year. It's also a maxima. Come to think of it, my round pumpkins look pretty close to them, only without the neck and all the fussiness.
Note: I got the above photo from Seeds of Change, where I also got the original seeds.