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!
I’ve been noticing more rogue tomatoes, but maybe I’m seeing more because I grow so many varieties. It’s an interesting problem, and there’s something to be said for creating a landrace.
I saw that circular damage on my later zucchini, just assumed it was from the new stink bugs that showed up this year. Maybe it’s from squash bugs who are mating and still attached to each, so they wander around in circles? Hmm, do they feed while they mate?
Ah yes, my first thought is usually that I received mislabeled seeds as well. So far, kale has been the biggest culprit on my end. That Stripey Marzano looks really nice – I quite like the larger paste types. Did you have any issues with blight this year and if so, how did that one fare? My Speckled Roman was right beside Taxi which is very susceptible so it got infected early on, although I did manage to still pick quite a few tomatoes from it.
I’ve never seen insect markings like that before – I think I see the makings of a heart shape in there!
I definitely find rogue varieties from time to time. It can be fun but I find it frustrating when the entire seed lot is off. Hate to say it, but Baker Creek’s seeds seem to have the problem more often than other commercial seed sources. I keep buying from them because they get some really interesting things and when I’ve notified them of varieties that don’t come true they usually make good.
We had some mislabelled (by the supplier) last year. They turned out to be yellow plum shaped tomato when they should have been red and round. I can’t remember the varieties.
You grow so many different varieties could there be an element of cross pollination?
All of these rogues came from seed I bought, so it could be cross pollination from the seed grower.
I have the same problem with Baker Creek Seeds too.I planted 2 yellow tomato plants and one of them turns out red. I am wondering if it is either a mix lot or maybe it is a genetic variation since the size and shape is the same. I will be interested in any spare
tomato seeds later in the season to try next year.
I am interested in trying to grow the Seminole Pumkin next year. According to gardener comments from Baker Creek it has an extremely long vinc, very hard rind and is very disease and insect tolerant. I am thinking since I have bad fungal and aphids problems in my garden…perhaps winter squashes with long vines will fare better in my yard and give me better yields. What is your thought on that Dave?
I’ ve had very good luck with the Seminole pumpkin in the past. I plan to get seeds for it from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange instead of Baker Creek.
Thanks for sharing your rogue news Dave. I get the occasional one here too. This year’s was a red version of Summer Cider Tomato, which has come true from seed for some years now. It lacked the tang of the usual orange ones so no seeds are being saved. Had some oddities amongst the Padron peppers too, with weirdly twisting fruits rather than the smooth ones we usually have. My first thought was environmental but they are growing alongside plants with more normal fruit so maybe not. Always interesting!
Hi Dave, I am wondering if you can share with me your method of saving seeds from your tomato crops?
I ferment the seeds using the method in this article from Mother Earth News:
It will stink for a day or two, so you might want to put it somewhere out of the way while it ferments. After fermenting, I rinse the seeds and dry them on a paper coffee filter, that way the seeds don’t stick to the paper. The article mentions using a paper plate instead.
Thank you Dave!
Thank you Kathy for your wonderful suggestion. I think I will probably use your simpler method to try to save the seeds.
Maybe the seed growers are not providing enough space between different varieties, and they are being cross-pollinated. Or maybe there are genes hidden in these old varieties that can make a rogue phenotype once in a while, especially when some alien pollen is introduced. The hot Happy Yummy looks like a really nice pepper, like the Bulgarian Carrot I hoped to grow this year that turned out to be something else, probably a case of mislabeling. If you can keep it breeding true, you may be on to something.
The Hot Happy Yummy has a tendency to make sweet peppers, or pepper with different shapes. Hopefully as I save more generations it will stabilize.
Dave, I’ve had similar scarring caused by striped cucumber beetles. I caught a bunch of them in the act!
Thanks! I was thinking some kind of beetle or bug. It didn’t look like slugs, plus it happens on squash far up off the ground.
I’m so disorganized, I just assume that I’ve messed up my seed labels. But I do feel like now and then, it’s not entirely my fault and the seed isn’t true.
Rogues! My favorite! xD I gobbled up this post like pie.
And now I’ve really got to get my butt in gear and post about those Stripey Marzanos! I’ll see if I can get that done today, now that I finally have my ‘weekend.’