Kate Flint is another of our wonderful Seed Stewards, dedicated to growing and saving a particular seed to ensure the Cygnet Seed Library is always full of seeds for the community.
This year Kate is stewarding Peter Cundall's Beauty, and here's what she had to say about...
It appeared as a cross of other pumpkins, in Peter Cundall's garden. He liked it so much, for its early maturing, good size, great flavour and excellent keeping ability. He saved the seeds from the best of them and continued sowing and saving seeds from the best pumpkins every year until it became stable enough for him to share the seeds with the public. I picked this seed to steward because I grew this pumpkin last year and it produced 9 ripe pumpkins on one plant. They were as good as Peter had said, in every way. I am happy not to grow any other cucurbits that could be related and accidentally cross with it so I am fairly sure I can keep it pure. Being a seed steward means I can commit to maintaining one variety of one vegetable to share with lots of people. Each year this pumpkin's seeds will evolve with my environment, meaning that it will remain able to grow in this area, even as changes in the climate evolve. This is desperately important for local food security.
I live in Cygnet, otherwise known as frosty hollow! Frosts are frequent and can occur from early autumn to the end of spring. Overnight temperatures can drop to -5C. I have mains water so can enjoy ample watering in summer, although I do mulch heavily all year round. Summers are typically mild, as for much of southern Tasmania. Wind is a problem, since Tasmania is in the roaring 40's. In winter, it is the cold northerly and in summer it is the daily sea breeze, which can be and often is, more like a gale than a breeze and can begin before midday!
I have an acre of garden, with a large pond and little creek. The soil varies quite a bit from gritty, alluvial, through to heavy clay but I have been working on it for 10 years now so there has been a fair bit of improvement, especially in the vegetable gardening areas. The pumpkins are all doing well but had a very slow start, due to the weather, but are now racing on and beginning to flower well. No fruits have set yet. Productivity, cool weather tolerance, early maturing, good keeping and excellent flavour are all important [traits to select for].
Cold soil and lots of wild wind in spring meant that I did not plant them out until December and even then the cold and the wind continued.
Pumpkins are easy to save but you must have ripe pumpkins to save from or the seed may not germinate next season. Cut open a ripe pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, remove any flesh that is still joined on and spread out on a tray to dry. Once fully dry, after a couple of months on an open tray, I put them into labelled jars.
Thanks Kate, for being a dedicated & very knowledgeable seed steward!