Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Carosello Tarantino Greenhouse Trial

To ensure acceptable consistency and marketability in fruit production, conscientious seed savers must work to select fruit and plants that express desirable traits in order to ensure that these traits continue to be expressed in further generations. Though a small amount of variation is generally accepted by gardeners and farmers that work with open-pollinated varieties, variability in multiple areas of plant and fruit growth as well as in fruit quality can make the seed less valuable.

Medium Long of Tarantino sprouting on March 19th, 2019.

March 23rd

March 26th

April 1st

April 10th

April 11th

One vegetable variety I have been working to reduce the variation in is a C. melo carosello variety I referred to as “Meloncella Fasciata” last summer. As you may recall, I was super excited about what I termed the banded Meloncella. Though the second grow-out I did with this variety turned out to be all round (just like the Tondo Massafra in appearance) I was able to save seed of the oval fruit I had grown. From this point on, I will refer to this variety as the Carosello Tarantino. When saving seed for a specific trait, it is important to remember the variability of the original population. The traits that were expressed during all my grow-outs of the Medium Long of Tarantino up to now included fruit shape (cylindrical or round) and fruit color (solid striped or blotchy). When I refer to blotchiness, I mean that the outer dark stripes are interrupted with patches of light-colored flesh. While I saw some blotched fruit at the beginning of growing out this variety, I wasn’t worried about blotchiness being a significant trait because I saw minimal blotchiness on the fruit I saved. However, because all of the second grow-out from 2018 was round, fruit shape would be a major factor to isolate.

April 25th

April 29th

April 30th

May 1st

Before saving seed for this variety last year, I sorted the fruit based on their shape. The most oval fruit was sorted as an A and the most round fruit ended up near the letter E. Although I would normally have picked A, I felt that I should plant seed from the fruit that was labeled “B”.

Progression of Fruit - May 1st

Progression of fruit, May 8th

Fruit Progress - May 13th

Because all of the fruit that I grew from the parent plant was initially cylindrical, I knew that my chances of getting cylindrical fruit was at least 50 percent. I decided to dedicate two hydroponic baskets with my reservoir buckets to this variety. One of the baskets had an EasyOlla while the other did not. I figured that the one closest to the greenhouse door would be the easiest to hand-water.

Second plant, May 1st

May 9th

Since last year’s fruit had produced very healthy seed, the seedlings that grew from them were very vigorous. I let the plants do their thing and culled any plants that grew poorly in the soil. Sure enough, one pot produced round fruit. Though the fruit was tasty, that was not what I wanted. Instead of waiting around to see if it would produce more cylindrical fruit the second time around, I pulled the round-fruited vine to reserve more light for its neighbor.

May 14th

May 14th


May 15th

May 17th

 As all of the greenhouse plants grew, the cylindrical fruiting Medium Long of Tarantino plant – which happened to be the one closest to the greenhouse door – performed much better than the other plants. I believe that much of this is related to overwatering the EasyOlla overwatering some plants.

May 20th

May 24th

May 26th

I’m very grateful that the one plant I needed to get seed from the most was not affected by this mistake. One of the things I appreciate most about growing in the greenhouse is that I can isolate individual plants in order to ensure that there is no cross pollination. Without a physical deterrent, bees would normally cross-pollinate my cucumber-melons, making it extremely difficult for me to select for a specific trait. When growing in the greenhouse, I hand-pollinate each of my female flowers with male flowers on the same plant. In some plants, such as corn, this would cause a problem known as inbreeding depression. Though inbreeding C. melo is not the best practice for long-term seed health, the vigor of C. melo seed saved from inbreeding is very high.

June 11th

June 27th

June 29th, fruit is soft and ready to harvest

Close to the end of the growing-out of this variety I made a few major mistakes. One was that I overwatered the plant enough that all but one of the fruit on the vine aborted. I am grateful for the one fruit that I was able to save seed from, because it enabled me to take advantage of the isolation required to select cylindrical fruit for my next grow out in the garden.

On one final note: Here is a video of this variety when it was flowering. They are quite impressive in their female flower production at this stage.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear Gardening Friends,
I look forward to learning more about gardening with you. Your comments help me recognize that gardening is a life-long journey.

To advertisers: Note that this blog is concerned with gardening and gardening techniques. Please do not attempt to advertise here by leaving a comment. Depending upon how egregious the comment is, it may be deleted.