Over the last few years I have been growing different varieties of cucumber-melons. For the most part, I have been growing each new variety in isolation. That is until now. I planted one friend’s carosello variety only to later learn that the variety was not pure. Some cucumber plants produced small long dark-green fruit, others produced short light-green fruit, some produced long light-green fruit with dark green blotches, while a few produced short light-green fruit with dark-green splotches.
Off-Type Long Carosello (Cucumber-Melon)
Light-green Short Carosello
Long Carosello with Splotches
When I had initially planted this variety I thought that the majority of the cucumber plants would be producing the short light-green fruit with dark-green splotches. As soon as I found that the seed was not pure I began “selfing” the plants (pollinating the female flowers using male pollen from the same plant). Selfing is usually considered a negative thing for outbreeding plants (plants that do not have a flower that can pollinate itself). This is because there is little genetic variability in the offspring. However, when one specific cucumber variety has been bred with another variety, its genetic variability is pretty high.
More Long Carosello with Splotches
So now I am getting rid of all the unwanted fruit and plants to make room for the cucumber variety with the traits I desire. This process of getting rid of the plants with undesirable traits is called “rouging”. It will probably take a few generations of rouging and selfing before my plants produce a uniform cucumber variety. Then I’ll need to grow it out for a few more generations before it becomes a completely stable variety. I will know that I have a stable variety when most of the plants I grow produce few off types (cucumbers that do not match the type I am seeking for).
Unwanted Plants going into the compost pit
In the meantime, I am saving a few of the interesting cucumber types, eating a lot of immature cucumbers, and adding a lot of cucumber vines to my compost pile. Even when things don’t go right the first time it’s nice to know you can eat or compost your failures.