Over Cross-Pollination or Franken-Squash

What is that thing?

This is a picture of a pumpkin plant. But you are saying to yourself…..that doesn’t look like a pumpkin. You are correct. That is definitely NOT a pumpkin growing on that pumpkin plant.

As part of our desire to continuously regrow our heirloom vegetables without purchasing new seeds every year we started to collect seeds so we could plant them again the following year. It was lost on us that there could be a possibility of cross-pollination that would cause the seeds collected to result in a completely different fruit! This year we learned that the squash family is one of the most susceptible to cross-pollination.

This fruit looks to be a cross between a pumpkin and a yellow squash. It grew early in the season like a summer squash would. There were round, smooth green fruit, like a zucchini in round form. There were also pumpkin shaped fruit that was too small and green or yellow fully ripe. Each plant had it’s own style of franken fruit, but the style was not mixed on a single plant.

We completed a taste test of the frankensquash to see if it was edible and it was, but the flavor was odd and the seeds had strange patterns in the fruit. We pulled off the edible pieces and ate them.

But now was the painstaking part! The pumpkin plants had grown to full size and were beautifully pest free. We had to pull them ALL out and replant them with store bought seeds. After all, our customers were expecting pumpkins at the end of the season!

We lost some time but luckily the new plants quickly germinated and gained some time back for our fall crop. Painful lessons learned. Until we have crop rows on opposite sides of the property, we will need to purchase new seeds every year to guarantee quality for our customers.

Get a closer look at the franken-squash on the farm’s YouTube channel: