The last few years I have been noticing more and more ‘rogues’ in my garden. By rogue I mean something that doesn’t come true from seed, or something unexpected that comes from a seed. One of my first garden rogues came in 2009, when I planted Yummy orange mini bell pepper and got something completely different that looked like an Anaheim pepper. Initially I figured that was a mistake on my part, a mislabeling, since all young pepper plants pretty much look alike and I was growing Anaheim that year. So one day I harvested a green one from this plant and put it in some salsa. Expecting the mild Anaheim, I used all of the pepper.
When I tasted the salsa, my mouth was immediately set on FIRE! The pepper I used must have had the heat of a serrano or something even hotter. I made note of the plant and left the other peppers on it alone. Imagine my surprise when they started ripening and turned orange, instead of the usual red of an Anaheim.
I decided to taste one again, but this time more carefully. It was just as hot as the green one, but had a lot of flavor and a certain sweetness to it. At that point, I had the presence of mind to save some seeds from it. And since it was a rogue Yummy pepper growing at Happy Acres, I called it the Happy Yummy pepper. In 2010 I grew it from seed, and it made a hot pepper similar to the original Happy Yummy – hot and orange when ripe. But in 2011 I set out two plants from the 2009 seed, and one was hot while the other was orange when ripe but sweet. I saved seeds from that one, and now I have two lines going that I call Sweet Happy Yummy and Hot Happy Yummy. The hot one has proven more difficult to stabilize, since it is prone to making sweet peppers as well as ones that turn red when ripe.
I seem to find a lot of rogue peppers here, perhaps since I usually grow a lot of different peppers. Last year I planted Celia Dulce, which is a sweet bell pepper originating from southern Mexico. The peppers turned out to be quite hot, and looked nothing like the photo at Dust Bowl Seed. They even displayed corking on the skin that is common to jalapenos, but not usually found on a bell pepper. I chose not to save seeds from this one since it wasn’t especially unique or tasty.
And I found another rogue pepper last year that was supposed to be Friggitello. According to the seller’s listing at Fords Fiery Food and Plants, “generations of Italian families have savored this crispy sweet pepper.” Presumably they didn’t wind up with a burning mouth and tongue like I did when I sauteed one up for lunch one day! It was not sweet in the least, and way too hot for my tastes for a frying pepper. I didn’t save seeds from this one either, though I did smoke both the Not Celia Dulce and the Not Friggitello peppers for a hot smoked chile powder. Both were quite prolific, which could be explained if they were accidental F1 hybrids.
And rounding out last year’s Rogue Roundup, I planted a couple of Aji Amarillo pepper plants with freebie seed I got from Artisan Seeds. One plant was true to type, but the other one made peppers with a distinctly different shape and taste. I posted pics on the Artisan Seeds FB group I belong to, and the pepper experts there decided it could be a chinense/baccatum accidental hybrid, probably between the Baby Aji’s and some land race Caribbean Seasoning peppers they grow. I did save seeds from those, but I didn’t get around to planting any this year since I was maxed out on peppers already. If you’re keeping score that was three rogues last year, which I think was a record for me.
This year, I’ve got at least two rogues so far. First up was a Marzano Fire plant that was not exactly true to type. Marzano Fire is an o/p paste tomato from Artisan Seeds that has a classic San Marzano shape and taste but with the stripes of Speckled Roman (which was very likely used in the breeding). Last year it was a great performer, so this year I planted two of them. One came true to type, while the other plant made bigger, blocky fruit. Both are tasty and make great sauce, and I have saved seeds from the rogue which I have called Stripey Marzano. I will have seeds available later this year for interested gardeners, though who knows what kind of tomatoes they will make! Breeder Fred Hempel at Artisan Seeds thinks it’s an accidental cross made by bees. I sent some seeds off to fellow rogue-lover Day (Homestead Pirate), and with her long growing season she may be able to get them to fruit before the end of the year. Stay tuned here and at her blog for more updates!
And also this year I seem to have a rogue winter squash growing from TWO plants. I’ve been growing the Seminole pumpkin for several years now, and this year I planted two plants from new seed I got from Baker Creek. The above photo shows what they are supposed to look like. While they may not always be perfectly round, they are not supposed to have a neck.
The pumpkins from these plants start out with a small neck, and almost look like a gourd.
As they get bigger, so does the neck.
The biggest one is now starting to look more like a butternut than a Seminole. The skin is changing color as the fruit matures. I don’t know if it will turn tan like a butternut or stay striped like it is now. The shape sort of resembles the Greek Sweet Red squash, but who knows what the final product will be. The circular patterns on the skin are caused by insect damage while the fruit was small and the skin was tender. I’ve had this on several of my squashes this year and if anyone knows what insect is causing please tell me, not that it appears to hurt the squash any.
Time will tell if these squash were the result of an accidental cross in the growers field, or a mislabeling by someone packaging the seeds. I’ll be sure and share the results when the squashes mature. Meanwhile, many of the 2017 peppers are now starting to ripen, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rogue or two there as well. Stay tuned for more happenings, rogue or not, from Happy Acres!