Diverging / by Karie Luidens

Pumpkin growth (8).JPG

There are two pumpkins growing side by side in the garden now... I think. Actually, I don’t know what they are anymore. Let’s play it safe and say there are two cucurbits growing side by side.

Both fruits are on the pumpkin plants, so they’re definitely siblings. They share a pumpkin mother. They started out looking identical, but as they’ve grown their shapes and textures have diverged so significantly that it’s become clear those maternal pumpkin blossoms were pollinated by bees fresh off blossoms of different plants. They’re half-siblings, then: they have different absentee fathers. 

One looks more like its dad could’ve been a blossom from my nearby cushaw plant, or maybe the squash my neighbors are growing—butternut, perhaps. The other looks more like it’s pure pumpkin. Who knows how big they’ll each get, what shape they’ll take, what colors they’ll ripen to! This is the sort of accidental hybridization I’d try to avoid if I were hoping to grow a single uniform crop or preserve a specific variety of seeds for next year. As it is, I’m happy to let nature get a little promiscuous and see what comes of it.