Friday, September 1, 2017

The Polymorphic Carosello Polisello

While I thoroughly enjoy the pursuit of a variety of Carosello cucumbers, I do my best to keep from growing multiple varieties all at once. It is not that I do not appreciate each one, but rather that I appreciate each one so much that I want to keep it true to its type – if a cucumber is supposed to be short or long, round or oval, light or dark, striped, blotched or a uniform color – it should remain predictable. My most recent experience attempting to grow the light Carosello Polisello proved that, if a variety is not carefully maintained, it will result in being completely unpredictable.


An assortment of Carosello Polisello Fruit


Another assortment of Carosello Polisello Fruit


The initial Carosello Polisello that I was introduced to was a drought-resistant, crispy medium-sized light cucumber with dark spotching. The last time I grew this variety in 2012, I selected out all the light fruit with dark splotching, regardless of size. Because I then selected the dark Polisello with such good results - with over 75% success, I thought that this next trial would go well.



Carosello Polisello sprouting up




I had to sow my seeds three separate times because of slugs




Third try - did much better than the first two because of the heat.




Carosello Polisello cucumber plant.



 
The male flowers begin to appear


Though there were quite a variety of cucumbers in the initial grow-out in 2012, I had culled in the process of selection, and I considered the initial planting only as a mix-up of seeds. Nope. It turns out that, if bees are involved, that even with selection it can be difficult to isolate specific morph of a polymorphic vegetable.


 
The plants continue to grow.


 
Another male flower


From my experience, the Carosello Polisello has a number of color, length and taste genes that interlap. The first year I grew them, there was no bitterness to the fruit. In fact, most cucumber-melons are, as a rule, bitter-free. This season a portion of the fruit were bitter, regardless of color. (This was incredibly disheartening because it makes the process of ideal morph selection even longer by adding another factor).



The expectation of a harvest is wonderful.


 
Plants reaching for the sky.



 
Care is needed to keep from stepping on sprawling branches


The problem of dealing with bees in a monoecious plant - where both female and male structures are grown in different places on the same plant - is that bees may take pollen from a nearby male part of Cucumber B and pollinate the female flower of Plant A. Because the gardener cannot remove all the unwanted cucumber types in a selection until the fruit begins to form, it is difficult to cull a plant from the population based on fruit color or pattern until its flowers have spread their genetic material to all the other plants in the garden. This means that, even if you are selecting for a specific trait from an F1 (first generation hybrid where up to 50% of the population exhibit a specific trait) to get to an F2 (second generation hybrid, where ideally 75% of the population exhibits a specific trait) you are having to fight the bees, who are making your plants a homogeneous genetic mess.



Carosello Polisello Light Morph in stages of development



Light Carosello Polisello growing on the vine




Light morph of the Carosello Polisello




How this morph looks when cut up





The complete light morph of the C. Polisello is dominant



 
A closeup of the skin when the fruit gets larger.


Some of the Carosello were dark, some were light, some were medium dark, some were medium dark with darker splotching while others were light with dark splotching (the target morph in my 2017 grow-out). The amazing thing is that, given time, each of these factors can be isolated and remedied if the gardener has both the ability to isolate the fruit and the time to select for the most desirable traits.



Solid Dark morph of the C. Polisello



A look at the top of this one.




Partly dark morph



Another look at the dark C. Polisello



Despite the odds presented to me by all the busy bees, I did find one way to help increase the chances of success with my random assortment of cucumber varieties. A cluster of three plants with light fruit and dark splotches presented the possibility that, if I labeled the middle fruit from the peripheral fruit, I could get closer to the 75% desirable morph than the 50% desirable morph. 



My Target approach to selecting for light cucumbers with dark splotching.


Like a target, the closer I get to the center, the more likely it will be that the next generation of seed will produce light cucumbers with dark splotches. Out of 9 cucumbers out of three plants, three were in the center (desired position 1), three were around them (desired position 2) and three were on the outer edges of the group of plants (desired position 3). I kept all my position 1 and 2 seed and tossed all the position 3 seed. I figure that I can work off of the position 1 seed and use the position 2 seed as backup.

 
These numbers tell me how close I am getting to my ideal.



 
The beginning of my Light w/Dark Blotched Carosello Polisello



 
The inner lines and dark splotches are beginning to show.



 
Carosello Polisello - not as much splotching as I would like.




Light Carosello Polisello with dark splotching



 
Carosello Polisello




Definitely very light in color!




Another picture a day or two later.




Two C. Polisello friends.



 
Later in the day, under different lighting.



The Light Carosello Polisello.



Another C. Polisello picture for effect.



Polisello family photo.




C. Polisello, looking a little shady.


 
The light C. Polisello


We’ll see how this technique pans out for the future, but as for the near term I will probably be focusing on a few varieties that are a little more consistent. In the meantime, enjoy my little Youtube clip about the Polymorphic Carosello Polisello.

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