If you’ve grown gourds for a number of years, as I have, you quickly discover they are hardy souls. That prima donna ‘Marina di Chiogga’ squash you’ve coddled along all season may not produce a single fruit, or that cantankerous ‘Boston Mammoth’ may decide to rot in the field, as all mine did this year, but if there’s a leftover gourd seed within a 100 yards of a bit of soil, chances are it will make a perfectly happy home wherever it finds itself, and bear bountifully. This year, a chance cross from last season managed to sprout among the blight infested tomatoes, and made its merry way across the tops of the tomato towers, oblivious to the dying plants below. I just collected a basket of the fruits, and I think they’re quite handsome:
If I had to guess, judging from the shape and distinctive curl of the stem, this is a cross between one of the green gourd varieties that my friend (and heirloom squash guru) Amy Goldman sent me last year, and my favorite eating pumpkin ‘Winter Luxury Pie.’ Whatever the parentage, I’ve christened this variety ‘Sandia’ (Spanish for watermelon) for obvious reasons. Of course, since this wasn’t a deliberate cross, there’s no way of knowing whether the seeds contained within are the product of yet another cross (very likely) or pure (very unlikely). Thus it’s fairly certain that even if I save the seeds and plant them out next year, I’ll never see a gourd quite like this one again. But that makes these green beauties all the more special: a year end bonus from that whimsical element of nature that creates so many expected pleasures in the garden.