This trait is called andromonoecious: having a mix of male flowers and perfect flowers. While it's not common in watermelon, it is a known to occur in watermelon, cucumbers, and muskmelons. I wouldn't select against it. Seems like it may be a good trait to have in a population that was growing in an area where pollinators are sparse, or where there is a lot of rain that interferes with pollination.
At least for me, I tend to do very few manual pollinations. And of those that I attempt, it's rare for me to emasculate the flowers. I tend to just add pollen from the desired donor, and then screen among the children for plants that match the expected phenotype.
Andrew: Thanks. I love the flowers of Solanum peruvianum, and Solanum corneliomulleri, and some accessions of Solanum habrochaites. It's looking like plain old selection could dramatically improve the flavor and agricultural properties of the wild tomato species. Here's some photos of Solanum peruvianum. They are a bumblebee magnet in my garden, and highly attractive to other species.
An inoculation strategy that I like, is to puree mushrooms in a blender, and pour the liquid over logs or chips. I expect stuffing mushrooms into slits in the logs will work fine. I'm not a fan of pouring wax into the logs. I just inoculate, and leave them alone.
A few times in my life I have simply walked away from my previous life, and started a new one in a new place. A new life that more closely aligns with my core values. That sort of thing really works for me.
Hans Quistorff wrote:What is your observation on sprinkler irrigation of squash. does it increase infection of the leaves or diminish it because the leaves don't cycle between limp and erect due to heat and water stress?
I don't notice infection on my squash, whether I irrigate by sprinkling or in furrows. It is hyper-arid here. For better health of the plants, I prefer sprinkle irrigation, cause if I water in furrows, it's like growing in pots, because the distribution of water is limited. I sprinkle irrigate once a week, long enough to put down one inch of water.
Sprinkle irrigation promotes the growth of mixed-species cover crop (weeds), which really helps with soil fertility. Watering in furrows makes it easier to maintain a show garden.
I only grow locally-adapted landraces that have lived here for many generations. I do not use crop protection chemicals or fertilizers. Therefore the tendency towards being infected with microbes or insects is greatly minimized.
And, there could be a good dose of "I don't pay attention" going on. I just plant, weed, irrigate, and harvest. If one particular plant has a problem, I just yank it up and forget about it. If one crop fails, it's just one in a hundred. The other day, I thought fondly of all the posts to permies about, "what is wrong with my plant". I saw some squash leaves that had been eaten by something, presumably a caterpillar. It's a half-dozen leaves among a thousand squash plants, so whatever. The novel critter is welcome to share the garden with me.
I checked on the mushrooms that I planted earlier this spring. There is lots of mycelia growing on the chips and logs. I can't tell right now whether it is from the species I planted, but hope springs eternal... I planted oyster mushrooms, and a few species of morels.
An apricot tree lost a branch last week, so I chopped it up and made more mushroom logs.
Hans: Oregon grape isn't currently on my list of anticipated breeding projects. I don't like the taste of oxalic acid in my foods. But if you find something that is particularly low-acid, sweet, prolific, or large-fruited, I might be tempted to reconsider.
I've made a few pairs of inter-species hybrid squash the past few years. They are growing well. Some of them show tremendous hybrid vigor!
A maxima/moschata hybrid. I call this population Maximoss.
I'm speculating that this is a maxima/moschata/pepo hybrid. If the hybridization is confirmed, I'll be looking for a name...
An argyrosperma/moschata hybrid. I call this population Mospermia. Fruit shape from moschata. Fruit color from argyrosperma. Peduncle mid-way between the parent species.
The same plant as in previous photo, showing the fig-leaved trait which came from moschata.
The squash field a few days ago:
I call that my squash field, because other than cover-crops I only grow squash in that field, due to severe problems with animal predation when growing other crops. However, I grow more squash in my other fields.
I'm preserving food. Most recently Dilly beans and pickled cucumbers.
Hand pollination is as simple as rubbing male flowers against female flowers... But if your plants are not producing male flowers then doing hand pollination would require bringing in foreign pollen donors (perhaps from someone else's garden).
For what it's worth, when I am contemplating adding a new field to my farm, I eat some dirt... Because my experience is that root crops end up tasting like the dirt that they are grown in... Idaho potatoes taste like Idaho dirt... I suspect that something similar happens with above ground portions of the plant. They end up tasting different due to the farmer's habits and ecosystem.
My seed saving strategy aligns with what William recommended. I feel like it's better to have more diversity in a population than to have more resistance...
Raul Robinson, who is one of my plant breeding mentors, recommends starting a plant breeding project by culling plants that are immune, and saving seeds from those that are susceptible. The idea being that immunity due to single gene interactions is very susceptible to breaking down long term. And that tolerance that is due to dozens or hundreds of genes is much more resilient in the long term.
Even when growing clones, I see differences in growth between plants growing nearby to each other. Many highly localized variables can influence how each plant grows... Something in the soil. What weed is growing closest. The patterns of shading from other plants. Random interactions with animals or microbes. A bird dropping.
In my garden, most culling, and most selection is done by the interaction of the plants with the ecosystem. If a plant doesn't reproduce, it self-culls. Especially in small populations, I'm really inclined to save seeds from every plant that is capable of producing seeds. Diversity is more important to me than any particular trait.
We bought 10 acres sight-unseen. We had only a photo of the neighborhood, not of the actual land. I was delighted when I saw it for the first time, and I am even more delighted now that we have planted some things and installed some earth-works and fire-breaks. A few months later, we bought an adjoining 10 acres. There were other 10 acre plots nearby that we could have bought but didn't. They wouldn't have been nearly as nice as what we got. The price was right.
Someone trying to be helpful introduced me to "grounding". It didn't do anything for me. I'm nearly always barefoot, and often have my hands in the soil. So I don't remember a time when I wasn't grounding....
I encounter about one snake per decade, so they are not high on my list of things to watch out for. I'm hyper cautious when moving rocks in the desert, but I don't pay much attention while walking.The demographic most likely to be bitten by snakes are teenage boys engaged in horseplay with a snake. Bites tend to be on hands and arms, or legs and ankles. I suppose that a pair of high topped cowboy boots would help minimize snakebite in locations where snakes are common.
Watching me walk nowadays, you might believe that I'd turned into a Hindu monk. When I was shod, I indiscriminately trampled insects. Now that I live barefoot, I avoid stepping on insects, mostly due to being aware that they are crawling along.
My general feeling regarding germs, is that there are more germs incubating in the warm/humid environment inside a shoe, than there are crawling around on city streets, or on my dry leathery bare feet. My skin is constantly shedding and releasing accumulated germs. When the skin sheds inside shoes, it is merely providing food for microbes. I certainly don't get teased about foot odor since I started living habitually barefoot.
I worry about the pesticides that get sprayed all over town. I put shoes on whenever I take someone to a doctor's office. But not when I'm walking through a manured pasture. Germs are part and parcel of my animal heritage. My body knows how to deal with them. For what it's worth, it's much easier to clean dog poop off bare feet than it is from shoes.
I have never seen a needle in the city. For the most part, I don't pay much attention to broken glass. It hasn't been a problem. However, if I see a freshly broken bottle, I'll clean up the large curved fragments. They seem dangerous to me.
I tend to avoid walking on grass. It's too hard to see hazards hidden within. I prefer to walk on sharp gravel rather than soft grass with hidden dangers.
Goatheads really suck!!! They are one of the few species on my eradicate list. (The others are a grass-burr, and purslane in three fields that don't already have it.) Thistles are annoying, but not quite annoying enough to get added to the eradicate list. Any place I travel frequently is more or less free of goatheads, cause I put a lot of effort into minimizing their presence in my life.
I figure that I'm constantly being exposed to tetanus, so have an ongoing immunity.
I wear shoes:
when I work in a field that is filled with dead Canadian thistles
during super-cold weather
at doctor's offices
When pruning hawthorns, even though the spines penetrate the soles of my shoes, so what's the point?
The worst thing I ever encountered was the husk from a buckeye tree. It produced dozens of punctures. Fortunately, they didn't break off inside. Dry Canadian thistle spines break off inside, and are the most annoying thing I routinely step on.
My experience is that seeds are viable much sooner than I would have imagined, and that they don't have to dry down before planting. That doesn't mean they are fully mature, just that they can germinate long before full maturity.
You could test them now... Open a pod, take the seeds out, and plant them in a pot. They are radishes. If they are going to germinate, they will do it in a few days. We'd love a grow report.
If you are dealing with green immature seeds, you'll need to be much more careful with harvest than when dealing with dry mature seeds. For example you might want to skip winnowing.
Seeds loose viability quicker at higher temperatures, so I prefer to dry seeds out of direct sunlight.
Any time is a good time to plant cactus pads. A bit of irrigation during hot/dry weather really helps them. It can be as simple as picking a pad, and tossing it on the ground where you'd like them to grow. I might put a medium sized stone on an edge of the pad, or bury it a little bit to lessen the chances that it will blow away or be carried off by animals. They grow best in spots that do not have standing water on them during the winter. So on top of a mole hill rather than in a badger den.
Opuntia polyacantha, the most common native prickly pear doesn't make the best nopales. They have plenty of spines to protect themselves. Opuntia humifusa is my favorite winter-hardy cactus for nopales. However, it doesn't have enough spines to protect itself from predation in the wildlands. I prefer Opuntia engelmanii for cactus fruits.
The white lines basically represent small earthen bunds on contour. The idea being that when runoff occurs, a few inches of water get caught behind them, and form a small puddle that seeps into the ground. The bunds also capture the little bits of leaves, and other organic matter that the water washes off the land, and concentrates them into the swale. I made that graphic using GoogleEarth.