I think permies.com should set up some way to work on collaborative breeding projects. There are five difficulties with amateur plant breeding, all of which could be solved by collaboration.
There are those with lots of knowledge and experience, and those with lots of time. Often, they are not the same person.
Plant breeding takes lots of time and space in the later stages of some projects. An experienced plant geek could start lots of interesting projects, but never be able to finish them all.
Genetic material can be difficult to find.
And, a single interesting cross could generate a whole new variety (or species!) But if it is solely developed in one location, it will only be adapted to that area. If the F1 material were shared, many locally adapted sub varieties could be generated.
Continuity is a problem; a lifetime of work can be wiped out when an individual dies or a company collapses.
If we want plants for a sustainable future: perennial vegetables and grains, domesticated wild species, new species from wide crosses; we will have to work together. I am not an expert, but if an expert needed somebody with space, time, and enthusiasm to work on a breeding project, I would certainly be interested. And I think there are lots of experts (and amateurs) here at permies.com.
Also, in the past fifteen years, lots of interesting companies have been founded, specifically to breed and introduce new public domain varieties, including perennial vegetables and other unusual crops. However, most of them have collapsed; Peter's seed and research, Seeds Blum, Meristem Seeds, Eric Toensmeier's Company, and several others.
Breeding a new and better Good king Henry plant does not seem to be the path to financial success. But a group of the sort I would like to initiate could have all the advantages of a company while not having to make a profit.
For some time I've been aware that no one in the establishment is really breeding anything appropriate to my location. We settle for stuff bred for Canada and other places in the deep south, but these cultivars are a compromise for us and often don't perform. Joseph's approach to this situation is to focus on developing local landraces--genetically diverse populations that may produce less and be more variable, but are more robust and reliably adapted to a given location, requiring fewer inputs. The rationale is that modern breeding centers around factors not necessarily relevant to the goals of guys like him and me. It's a very interesting concept and it sounds like his results have been impressive. I'm going to pursue this strategy myself. There's lots of discussion on home breeding over at http://alanbishop.proboards.com/ , and it would be great to get that kind of collaboration going here too.
"I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another Man's"--William Blake
Victor - thanks for the info on landraces. It is quite an inspiring idea to select for traits well adapted to your own locality. I've grown a fair few sets of packet seeds and been disappointed with them. There are a few things I'd like to breed for. A perennial bean would be one (runner beans have weak perennial traits apparently), but it would need to adapt well to our local conditions.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
Ok, I'm looking into tomatoes - I think a landrace for growing outdoors in my area would be wonderful. I have very little experience of growing toms other than a few feeble plants in grow bags and pots in the greenhouse years ago (long before I found permies).
I think all of my previous problems would be cured by growing outdoors (sporadic watering, lack of feeding etc...).
So this year I'm going to get about 10 different tomato varieties and plant them up to make a whole bunch of deliberate F1 crosses. I'll be aiming for indeterminate early varieties as well as for some with disease resistance. In the spirit of a landrace I'll be getting a mix of heirlooms and some modern F1 hybrids (hey, someone else has already done the hard work of a first cross!).
If anyone else wants to get involved it would be good to swap seeds with someone conducting their own landrace with different starting genetics.
Moderator, Treatment Free Beekeepers group on Facebook.
For breeding tomatoes, I suggest this talk presentation by Tom Wagner. He has been breeding tomatoes and potatoes for 6 decades.
This video will only give an interesting introduction.
More info can be seen at Tom Wagner's blog site (Tater Mater) He is responsible for many varieties available today, including Green Stripe and Green Zebra.
I never got them planted. My chronic fatigue flared up really badly, and I'm way behind. I'll probably plant them in the Fall as an overwintering test. I'm still planning to put your citron melons in, if I can just get well for a day or so.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:I never got them planted. My chronic fatigue flared up really badly, and I'm way behind. I'll probably plant them in the Fall as an overwintering test. I'm still planning to put your citron melons in, if I can just get well for a day or so.
Oh, sorry to hear that. Hope You feel better soon! Take care of yourself!
If you ever do get to the citrons, you might try saving some seed back just in case of crop failure. I've had some of mine die from heat/drought/ neglect. I've been so busy that my whole garden has suffered a bit.
As for the peas, that's not a bad idea. I haven't had much effort into fall peas yet, but if it were me i'd try direct seeding in mid to late July for fall peas. But if you are pre-soaking that might change your panting date. I've never presoaked mine. "Large Podded" were the tastiest peas this year for me. Quite a winner.
Victor Johanson wrote:I'm getting ready to try landrace gardening. There's a guy named Joseph Lofthouse in Utah who has written a fascinating series of blog entries on the subject at Mother Earth News:
Joseph is one of the three gardener's listed in the sidebar here. :) He posts here.
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