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One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

 
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I'll be honest. Definitely didn't read through the whole thread but I just wanted to express my agreement about landrace seeds. Particularly if we want to have plants that can adapt to our changing environment(s). They are hard as hell to find though if you are wanting to get your garden started as such. Obviously, landrace seeds need to be locally cultivated. I was thinking that maybe we could get a database going or something that can show who is cultivating landrace varieties (and selling the seeds) and organize it by region, state, etc. Just a thought.
 
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Patrick Edwards wrote:I'll be honest. Definitely didn't read through the whole thread but I just wanted to express my agreement about landrace seeds. Particularly if we want to have plants that can adapt to our changing environment(s). They are hard as hell to find though if you are wanting to get your garden started as such. Obviously, landrace seeds need to be locally cultivated. I was thinking that maybe we could get a database going or something that can show who is cultivating landrace varieties (and selling the seeds) and organize it by region, state, etc. Just a thought.



Biggest issue I see with that is that conditions are so different even in places that are quite close together.  My parents live 15 miles from me.  My soil is heavy clay.  Theirs in nearly pure sand.  My answer to that is to plant every seed I can find of whatever thing I'm trying to grow and save my own seeds.  Do that for 3 seasons, you have your own landrace.  I will admit to only doing it with "easy" plants though.  With things that are harder to save, I plant a few varieties that I can find and hope some of them grow.  I hope to change that in the future, but that's what I do right now.
 
pollinator
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Biggest issue I see with that is that conditions are so different even in places that are quite close together.  My parents live 15 miles from me.  My soil is heavy clay.  Theirs in nearly pure sand.  My answer to that is to plant every seed I can find of whatever thing I'm trying to grow and save my own seeds.  Do that for 3 seasons, you have your own landrace.  I will admit to only doing it with "easy" plants though.  With things that are harder to save, I plant a few varieties that I can find and hope some of them grow.  I hope to change that in the future, but that's what I do right now.


My soil is sand. 30 miles away my sister's is clay. However, if I grow something and then give her seeds, then she sends seeds back to me of whatever thrives, we have plants that can theoretically survive in both locations.

Joseph has a short growing season but plenty of water. I have little water and a longer growing season. If I plant his seeds, some of them do great and others not so great. But if I then send seeds back to him, the variety is stronger.
 
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Patrick Edwards wrote:I'll be honest. Definitely didn't read through the whole thread but I just wanted to express my agreement about landrace seeds. Particularly if we want to have plants that can adapt to our changing environment(s). They are hard as hell to find though if you are wanting to get your garden started as such. Obviously, landrace seeds need to be locally cultivated. I was thinking that maybe we could get a database going or something that can show who is cultivating landrace varieties (and selling the seeds) and organize it by region, state, etc. Just a thought.



I think this is a great idea.
Even if there can be a lot of differences between close locations, and not just in soil type, I still believe that if you have seeds that are grown in simmilar geographical and climate environment you have much better chance for it to grow into good and healthy plants. Well, usually .
Actually that is exactly how I choose seeds of different varieties when I have to buy it. I live in a small Mediterranean island - so for example seeds from southern France or central and southern Italy are much better for me than those from Austria or Germany.

Anyway I love the idea of a database and think it would be good for it to be an international one.
In the meantime, if anyone knows where to get some landraces in Europe I would much appreciate the information.
 
pollinator
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There just are not many sources of "landrace" seeds, at least not yet. Joseph Lofthouse is about the only only one I know of that made them available some of which can be found here EFN-Lofthouse Seeds. My climate and growing practices are very different from his and some things did not thrive or adapt. Still his seeds added some valuable genetics to my garden, especially with corn and tomatoes.  The EFN and and some others also sometimes have what they call breeders seed, which I think is about the same thing.

I also trade with several others and again, although from very different environments I have acquired some great stuff from Canada and Minnesota. Other than that what I do is pick a new species or two each year and invest some money, less that fifty dollars per year in buying several varieties of the species and planting them all mixed up. If the species does well then I just go from there on saving my own seeds. Even if it does poorly I will try again with what seeds it did produce but I won't buy seeds to try again on one that failed.

I have also noticed that some seed companies are starting to offer mixes of seed, which saves a lot of money over buying individual varieties. You can also start with hybrids in many cases. There you sort of get two for the price of one, just grow out the next generation and they will begin to segregate and adapt. If you grow more than one hybrid, for example get packs of three different hybrid corns you then have genetics from all six original parents.
 
Trace Oswald
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Lauren Ritz wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Biggest issue I see with that is that conditions are so different even in places that are quite close together.  My parents live 15 miles from me.  My soil is heavy clay.  Theirs in nearly pure sand.  My answer to that is to plant every seed I can find of whatever thing I'm trying to grow and save my own seeds.  Do that for 3 seasons, you have your own landrace.  I will admit to only doing it with "easy" plants though.  With things that are harder to save, I plant a few varieties that I can find and hope some of them grow.  I hope to change that in the future, but that's what I do right now.


My soil is sand. 30 miles away my sister's is clay. However, if I grow something and then give her seeds, then she sends seeds back to me of whatever thrives, we have plants that can theoretically survive in both locations.

Joseph has a short growing season but plenty of water. I have little water and a longer growing season. If I plant his seeds, some of them do great and others not so great. But if I then send seeds back to him, the variety is stronger.



While I like that theory, I can't see how it works "in real life".  If I have seeds adapted to my soil, one of the things they adapted to is too much water regularly, and they need to thrive in my damper, cooler, denser soil.  At my parents, in sand, they need to be adapted to much, much less water and hotter, not dense at all soils.  I can see plants adapting to one or the other.  I can't see using the same seed in every different condition and creating some kind of "super seed" that grows well everywhere.  It would be great if it were true.  We could all just use that same seed everywhere.  I just don't see it working that way.  All that said, I'm hypothesizing.  I've only been saving seeds a few years and there is a lot I don't understand and a lot still to learn.
 
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I grow and cook beans jumbled together. Whenever someone feeds me a "pure variety" it is a particularly boring meal. Every bean in my mouth exactly the same as the last. Dull. Mind-numbing. I can't think of any recipe that involves beans that is tastier when made with near-clonal varieties.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of growing conditions that a plant experiences during its lifetime. Type of soil is one minor component among many. The difference between sand and clay, derived from the same  underlying bedrock, may not be much of a change.  Even if my neighbor 30 miles away has a different soil type derived from a different type of bedrock, we still share the same weather, altitude, latitude, solar flux, insects, diseases, and organic mindset.

A key components of my selection criteria, is that I don't want to grow plants that require fertilizer, mulch, compost, weeding, or sprays. My plants are tuned to a low-input agricultural system.  
 
Patrick Edwards
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Good points from everyone. Said database may be better organized by climate/soil type. Like a landrace seed sharing network and one could cross reference, "dry, clay, zone 7" or "silty loam, wet, zone 5", etc. It is correct that going simply by state would not be particularly useful. I am presently in Oklahoma and the quantity of highly varied microclimates here is significant. An hour or two east and I am in the forest and foothills of the Ozarks. An hour or two west and there are sand dunes. Still, I think the folks here could pull it off. Here we have the compulsive seed savers and as was mentioned above, after about three seasons one has the beginning of a serious landrace variety. Maybe I will make a separate thread for this. I think it could be super cool to have a network of folks sharing/selling/trading landrace varieties.
 
Mare Silba
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Today weather in SE Europe is a perfect example on why landraces should become something of a mainstream in seed saving.
We are having an extremely cold weather here, on a Mediterranean island, with snow and cold and harsh northern winds with temperatures approaching 0°C. Something that even oldest folks can't remember happening on this date. And we witnessed similar cold blasts in other parts of the world this spring - Spain and Texas comes to mind.

As we can expect even more extremes in the future I'm hoping to create different landraces that can cope with prolonged droughts, cold blasts etc.

Also having a pool of different landraces from different climates and growing conditions can add to the food resilience - something that will be more and more important in the years to come, IMHO.
 
Mare Silba
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Patrick Edwards wrote:Good points from everyone. Said database may be better organized by climate/soil type. Like a landrace seed sharing network and one could cross reference, "dry, clay, zone 7" or "silty loam, wet, zone 5", etc. It is correct that going simply by state would not be particularly useful. I am presently in Oklahoma and the quantity of highly varied microclimates here is significant. An hour or two east and I am in the forest and foothills of the Ozarks. An hour or two west and there are sand dunes. Still, I think the folks here could pull it off. Here we have the compulsive seed savers and as was mentioned above, after about three seasons one has the beginning of a serious landrace variety. Maybe I will make a separate thread for this. I think it could be super cool to have a network of folks sharing/selling/trading landrace varieties.



Well said. And I'm with you re: landrace varieties network.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My network of collaborators use Köppen Climate Classification to describe our gardens.

It might be nice if we also adopted a Soil Triangle classification.

soil pH might be useful.
 
Lauren Ritz
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I am running a different kind of test this year. Last year I was gifted a bunch of squash seeds, and one of them produced a vining yellow crookneck that turned out to be a maxima. Actually I had three of that kind, but two got nephewcided. Boycided? :)

When I cut the squash open some of the seeds were distinctly different. I divided them into four sets.

1)  Majority, simple maxima
2)  Dark seeds--visibly darker than the rest
3)  Three sided seeds--The seed looks like the two halves pulled apart and left a filled in gap, so the seeds look like they have three sides (see picture)
4)  Striated seeds--These actually look like the seeds were damaged, cut into or strained.

I have planted the four groups separately and I'm going to see if any appear to be crosses. The other squash in the area were also maxima (I think) but other varieties. Blue Kuri (?) and an orange and green stripey that I'm not sure of the variety. Other squashes were close but not in the same grouping. The question I am trying to answer is, can squash crosses be identified from the seed?

My first guess for a cross is group 4. Many (but not all) of those seeds appear to be immature, flat or otherwise empty. Possibly the result of pollination with an incompatible type? My 2nd guess for a cross is group 3. I don't think group 2 is a visible cross, as there are "darks" in all the other groups. Nevertheless, I split them out into their own group.

I'm not really expecting to see visible crosses isolated to the various groups, but it would be amazing if it happened.
Possible-squash-hybrid.png
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Lauren Ritz
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:My network of collaborators use Köppen Climate Classification to describe our gardens.

It might be nice if we also adopted a Soil Triangle classification.

soil pH might be useful.

I think the Koppen classification is unnecessarily complicated, but OK. Why do they use k for "kold" in the B group rather than c as in all the other groups? Why not use a clearer identifier than A-E? If you don't know (i.e., haven't been taught) what the various classifications are, it's meaningless. Simple enough to use Tropical, Sub-Arctic, Tundra, etc., rather than assigning random letters. PH (Acid/Alkaline), Soil (Sand/Clay/Loam)? BSk/Al/S
 
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Lauren Ritz wrote:Why not use a clearer identifier than A-E? If you don't know (i.e., haven't been taught) what the various classifications are, it's meaningless. Simple enough to use Tropical, Sub-Arctic, Tundra, etc., rather than assigning random letters. PH (Acid/Alkaline), Soil (Sand/Clay/Loam)? BSk/Al/S



Presumably it's a linguistically neutral key. Tropical, sub-arctic, tundra, etc are clear to English speakers, but symbols are more easily keyed to different languages.
 
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Getting all excited, imagine all thepeople who want to grow vegetables would buy landraces instead of industrial seeds. Gardening would work worldwide without pesticides and stuff.
Good work is happening here i tell ya.

I seed outside in the beds, but i also make upstarts in the greenhouse as a back up. Becauseto be able to apply landrace principles you do need to have seeds so you do need to have production. Or just throw tons of bought seeds down and see if something survives.
Slow, cheap but sure is my way for now. I’ll eat the upstarts when grown out and save seeds from the ones that made it on their own.

Been seed swapping quite a bit. Have gotten a rhubarb which starts from seed! Six different kind of beans grown locally since thirty years orso.
Old stubborn folk who refuse to buy seeds, that’s interesting to get seeds from.
Quite some people at the seed swap told me they don’t have time to garden. They asked for easy stuff that work. In fact that’s what landrace seeds are. So they left with some of the seeds i pushed on them and hopefully they STUN the hell out of them having no time but to chuck em in their weed overgrown plots. Hahaha.
Hopefully they come and bring them back to me at the fair some time.

I had bought a Moroccan salad because i thought it would be resistant to drought. Some three years ago. It was not very much so, but interesting enough. I saved all the seeds but turned out i was too early. The seeds hadn’t ripened. None came up i thought to have lost them.
To my surprise some grew in the beds anyway. Must have been early ripened ones that dropped out of the seed heads in the wind. I mollycoddled them, took good care of them, saved all the seeds and this year i think they must have shared genes a bit with the ones i have been growing for years.
One that’s all year round, pops out on its own everywhere, on pathways in grass, it’s ruthless. It’s a salad my neighbor gave me years ago. It’s red and has curly leaf.
The Moroccan salad is so strong this year. Really good germination rate. I transplanted it and we got a freeze immediately after, they couldn’t care less and they doubled in size. Other lettuce transplants i did suffered. And some Moroccan types show signs of red curly leaf. One of the Moroccan ones has survived all winter outside. I guess i better save seeds of that one too! We had quite a cold winter last winter.
Any way that’s my little story of succes with applying land race techniques without even knowing it. I hope i’ve written it so it makes sense to other people here as well.
Oh yeah the brassica seed saving project also seems succesful. And i am adding new seeds from other people in the mix. Slowly moving to landracing techniques.
And i got ten different pumpkins from different people i plan to mix up this year.
 
Hugo Morvan
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I took photos of the lettuces.
First photo on the right is the Moroccan lettuce, looks just like it always has. Bottom right is a hardened local 4 season type which grows and self seeds and on the left in thee middle is a crossing between the two lettuces.
What should i do now? I would like this kind of lettuce to stay more like the original, green, but strong and winterproof and heat and drought resistant. I don’t want that they become too much like the hardy one red and curly.
Should i keep the crossed one and let it go to seed to make sure i get a maximum hardy lettuce in them and then kill off all the ones that show red leaves in the next genetation and cross all of the. leftovers back with normal looking descendents of the Morocan type. Or should i eradicate the mixed one(s) and not let them have a say in the future gene pool?? How about crossing more with the hardy one?

I could also split them of into two types. One Moroccan salad that survives winters and one that is really hardy in summer.

Also i am running an experiment with red deer tongue lettuce and australian yellow leaf lettuce and devil tongue lettuce. I hope to get as many seeds of the big plants, i just eat the smaller ones . They are planted in beds at least 20 feet from each other. I hope they don’t cross too much. Except again with the hardy type which grows all over.

Second photo original Moroccan type right, mixed Moroccan on the left.
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I'll have a go this year with a couple of dozen of squash varieties, including Lofthouse buttercup and Moschata mixes.

Also a whole bunch of short season flint corn varieties from a genebank and other sources.
Hopefully there will be something that matures in my short growing season with very wet autumns.
It's funny, I found a bunch of varieties in a German genebank that were developed right here in my own country almost a century ago, that no longer exists here. Everything has been replaced with silage corn... I hope they will germinate ok.

I did a growout of a few dozen dry bean varieties last year. Unfortunately the crop was heavily infested with bean weevils over the winter. So I'm freezing the seeds now and will plant the ones with the least insect damage. Perhaps there will be some that are more resistant to those damn bugs. I already noticed some types of beans were noticeably less chewed up if at all. So I've got some hope.

I also grew a few dozen of old and new potato varieties last year and saved seed from the best blight survivors and most prolific berry setters (sarpo mira being best at both) Growing a few hundred seedlings right now.
I also plan to cross the sarpo miras or their descendants to a bunch of Andean tetraploids to see what genetic diversity I can get.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Should i keep the crossed one and let it go to seed to make sure i get a maximum hardy lettuce in them and then kill off all the ones that show red leaves in the next genetation and cross all of the. leftovers back with normal looking descendents of the Morocan type. Or should i eradicate the mixed one(s) and not let them have a say in the future gene pool?? How about crossing more with the hardy one?

I could also split them of into two types. One Moroccan salad that survives winters and one that is really hardy in summer.

I'd say wait for at least the third generation before trying to split them into types. But yes, when you do start to select, cut out anything that is off type while still letting the variation continue. If you want the off types to contribute pollen let them flower but don't keep seeds. Once the flowers start to wither, cut them out.
 
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Dan Boone wrote:
But this year I am planting a whole lot of things (perhaps just one or two plants) where my freshest saved seed is four or five years old,...



Since learning about it, I've used Robert Pavlis's improved baggie method  
 for both germination testing and starting for most veggies. I've been surprised at how long some seeds are viable and also at how low the germination is for some saved seed (which lets me know how thickly to baggie or sow it).
 
Lauren Ritz
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It seems to me that in many cases short viability is a result of humans planting the newest seed generation after generation. This can be solved by always planting your oldest seed. Most of my seeds, even the greens and onions, are viable five years or more.

It makes no sense for a plant seed to be viable only one year. If the plant has a bad year, it goes extinct.
 
David Wieland
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Lauren Ritz wrote:
It makes no sense for a plant seed to be viable only one year. If the plant has a bad year, it goes extinct.


To a point, you're right. But there is wide variability among species and probably among varieties of the same species. For example, parsnip seed viability drops quickly after the first year (but a plant produces abundant seed, so it's easy to sow thickly), while tomato and squash seed stays mostly viable for years.
Extinction requires failure throughout a plant's range, an extremely rare event, unlike failure in my garden 😀.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Parsnips are a good example. Yes, the plant creates a lot of seed. But parsnips have been "domesticated" for thousands of years, and I think much of their loss of viability results from that domestication. I was shocked when I planted parsnip seed that was a few years old (kept in a refrigerator, dry and cool) and got 0 germination. If I can ever get some started that will be one of the things I work on, removing what I consider an artificial limitation.
 
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Hi James,

I think it would be most helpful for all the farmies looking on, to first DEFINE the concept of landrace and then give your examples of it......
i do love all the applications you are forwarding- let's please not forget the essential first steps-
carry on wildly! -im
 
Lauren Ritz
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David Wieland wrote:Extinction requires failure throughout a plant's range, an extremely rare event, unlike failure in my garden .

To the plant whose progeny is no longer available to the gene pool, that is extinction. Even with plants we're working with individuals, and the survival or elimination of those individuals. That plant puts a lot of energy into seeds. If none of those seeds germinate, the individual plant has essentially become extinct. A trend toward early loss of viability will eventually eliminate the group, unless something else intervenes.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Lauren: I concur regarding longevity of seed. We get what we select for. If we always plant the newest seed, we inadvertently select for shorter viability. Particularly with parsnip and onions, I make a point to plant older seeds (like 5 years old), in order to select for seed longevity.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Particularly with parsnip and onions, I make a point to plant older seeds (like 5 years old), in order to select for seed longevity.

It sounds like your parsnip seeds are lasting upwards of five years. According to what I've read they have a 1 year shelf life and by two years they're mostly dead. Any idea on the age limits of your parsnip seeds?
 
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I'm highly skeptical about most things that I read on the internet regarding seed longevity. For me, viability of parsnip seed is more about planting it at the right time of year, (fall) than it is about how long it has been stored.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'm highly skeptical about most things that I read on the internet regarding seed longevity. For me, viability of parsnip seed is more about planting it at the right time of year, (fall) than it is about how long it has been stored.

Well, by the third year I wasn't able to get anything to sprout, so as far as parsnips the internet information is pretty close to my own experience. Other plants, absolutely not. I think I still have some downstairs, although I may have thrown them all out. I'll try this fall.
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