My youngest son got a book for his birthday called The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. The story reminds me of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Spookley doesn’t look like the other pumpkins, but he ends up saving the day because of his differences.
A big gust of wind swoops in while all the round pumpkins are making fun of poor Spookley for being a square. The gale snaps the fence surrounding the pumpkin patch. All of the round pumpkins start rolling out into the bay through the hole in the fence. Spookley, in all his “squareness”, blocks the gap in the fence and all of the other pumpkins are saved.
The next year, the farmer sows seeds from Spookley and gets pumpkins in all shapes and colors.
It’s a cute story, but it is also a good lesson in gardening.
Spookley is a hybrid. He’s not like other pumpkins in that he is square. Hybrids are known for adapting to overcome environmental challenges…exactly what Spookley did.
A hybrid is a cross between two different plant types. This cross can be created by two varieties of the same plant cross pollinating, or by human intervention in order to get the best traits from two related plants.
The offspring of the hybrid plants will not necessarily produce true to type. This is why in the story, all of the pumpkins grown from the seeds saved from Spookley are different shapes, sizes and colors.
It is important to note here that hybrids are not genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A GMO is “an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques” in a laboratory…not in nature or in the back yard (Wikipedia). For example, corn and soybeans have been genetically engineered to be resistant to Round-Up.
A hybrid is a cross of different varieties of related plants while a GMO can be a cross between two completely unrelated organisms like bacteria with a plant.
I loved the story of Spookley. The last line in the story says it all. “Oh what a garden variety makes.”