All the way back in 2019 I grew a checkered cucumber variety from a small population of Carosello Spuredda Leccese cucumbers that I was trialing in the chicken garden. By divine providence, I was able to self-pollinate one of the fruits. The carosello looked pretty tender and I decided that it would be well worth trying to grow out again.
Fast-forward to 2020. Now, with a raised garden bed, I decided it was time to try out the splotchy cucumber again. I planted them soon after pulling out some other cucumber plants on the same site. Other than local cats using the garden bed as their potty place, which killed a few of the plants, the plants grew relatively well in a short amount of time.
Everything grew well until the male flowers began to form. Instead of forming with regular flowers, many of the flowers had petals that puffed in towards the middle so much that it would make pollination very unlikely. Considering this a self-terminating trait, I picked all of these flowers off of the plants and amended the soil – waiting until the plants produced flowers more suitable to pollination by bees. While I would not normally see this kind of deformity in a population of Carosello, I concluded that I may have encountered it because I had selfed the plant the previous generation. To “self” a cucumber or other outcrossing plant means to use the male flowers to pollinate the female flowers on the same plant. While this creates a genetic bottleneck that can lead to inbreeding problems, it is generally acceptable to self a melon or squash variety, as long as the generation before and afterwards are not self-pollinated.
1. The population remains polymorphic – 2 or more cucumbers are produced that exhibit traits that are more similar to their individual parents than a mix of either one. Many seed selections of the Carosello Tondo Manduria are this way. As if the seeds of the individual parents were grown individually, then mixed into a seed packet, thy either they exhibit characteristics exclusively of parent 1 or they exhibit characteristics of parent 2, but they rarely exhibit a homogeneous combination of either parent.
2. The population is partially homogeneous – the fruit that is grown exhibits characteristic traits of both parents, though some fruit may look more similar to one parent than another.