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Own or Breed Unique Varieties/Cultivars?

 
D. Logan
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I remember reading over the Deppe book on how to "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties" and being inspired to try some things. I remembered a man who lived nearby when I was growing up that bred flowers and would name new varieties after people he knew. He has long since passed away, as have all of his varieties most likely. He never sold them or tried to make it more than his hobby. Still, others are doing the same things all over and with the posting not so long ago about the breeding of a new chicken variety, it got me thinking.

Does anyone else here have one of a kind varieties? Things passed down from a previous generation or something you took the time to cultivate yourself? Maybe it isn't something you have yet, but are working on or planning to work on in the near future as well. I, for one, would love to hear about these varieties and what sets them apart and/or why they were developed.
 
Daniel Kern
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I don't have that but I do want to do that. Although I have some nutgrass that I am growing. I am going to take the largest nuts, and grow them, and eat the rest. then from those I will choose the largest plants, and maybe one day I will have a nutgrass worth cultivating as food.

The heirloom seeds at bakers creek heirloom is a collection of these types of breeds. they have an amazing variety of plants. check them out at www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/
 
D. Logan
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Daniel Kern wrote:I don't have that but I do want to do that. Although I have some nutgrass that I am growing. I am going to take the largest nuts, and grow them, and eat the rest. then from those I will choose the largest plants, and maybe one day I will have a nutgrass worth cultivating as food.

The heirloom seeds at bakers creek heirloom is a collection of these types of breeds. they have an amazing variety of plants. check them out at www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/


I have their catalog and love it! Triamble squash ... mmm. Anywho, I had been led to understand nutgrass (besides being considered the world's worst weed) was only somewhat edible due to bitterness and mostly eaten only in famine times. Do you have a variety that tastes acceptable?
 
Daniel Kern
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I will find out soon and post here. But I did just find out that one variety has been in use since ancient Egyptian times and is cultivated around the Mediterranean. The roots reach the size of hazelnuts and have a similar taste.

But there are other varieties.

webpage
 
Dan Boone
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I have some wild persimmons on my property that are substantially larger and more delicious than most of the other trees around here. I want to propagate them and make them available as a named cultivar.

I won't be able to name them after myself, though, because according to that 100-year-old USDA pamphlet on wild persimmons that I made into an e-book, there already is (or at least, there was 100 years ago) a cultivar named Daniel Boone.
 
D. Logan
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Dan Boone wrote:I have some wild persimmons on my property that are substantially larger and more delicious than most of the other trees around here. I want to propagate them and make them available as a named cultivar.

I won't be able to name them after myself, though, because according to that 100-year-old USDA pamphlet on wild persimmons that I made into an e-book, there already is (or at least, there was 100 years ago) a cultivar named Daniel Boone.


Be creative and call it Daniel's Boon or some such thing so you play on words with your own name and still get to be associated with the cultivar.
 
R Ranson
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This is a great topic. Sounds like a book worth reading.

I've often felt conflicted between preserving a heritage variety and creating my own landrace.

I also worry about genetic snobbery - Preserving the old varieties is a noble endeavor, but in our town a lot of people won't eat 'tomatoes' or 'green beans' unless it's a specific variety, over 200 years old and developed in some remote village... many of these varieties don't grow well locally... well, I think you know enough about the troubles of importing food and/or the excessive technologies and other inputs needed to grow things out of season in a climate where they don't thrive (lights, heating, cooling, chemical inputs...). I'm not fond of this trend.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally thrilled at the level of consumer awareness we have here, but... well... sometimes it's more following the fad than actual interest in how their food is produced.

This is why I'm so interested in landraces (and talking to people about landraces). A landrace plant may not be a specific variety, or even a named one, as the genetic diversity is usually too great to be officially classified. However, it is well adapted for the location where it's developed. With greater diversity in the landrace genepool, it can usually thrive in a much larger range of environmental challenges, where commercial and specific varieties fail.

Currently I only grow one landrace. It's a kind of poppy which I call 'red bread poppy landrace'. When we moved to this farm, there was this most brilliant red poppy growing in the back forty. The seed pod was huge so I saved it and started growing it next to my purple bread poppies (which of course cross pollinated). I selected primarily for drought tolerance and huge seed pod. My red bread poppy landrace went from having fragile petals, easily damaged by wind and rain, and on the whole, not very robust, to having a good many of the traits I love in a normal bread poppy. Now I almost never grow my purple poppy, although sometimes a red poppy seed will toss out some purple flowers (the seed from which I save for baking). The seeds are delicious, but a bit small for poppy seeds. Starting this year, I'll be selecting for seed size as well as quantity.

I also grow several heritage varieties of crops for seed, some of which are sheltered in isolation cages at time of blooming (yes, even I am a genetic snob sometimes). Although, if something new develops, I will often grow it out to see what the plant is next year. If it's good, I'll keep growing it.

This year, I am playing with barley. I've bought half a dozen heritage varieties barley seeds and will mix them up and plant them all together. Save the seeds from the best 50%, grow, repeat, until I have a semi-consistent landrace that can withstand our climate and tastes yummy. Eventually I hope for two varieties, one that overwinters well (I have yet to find a barley that can survive winter on our farm - which is saying something!) and one for summer planting.

I also found two wild oat stalks growing in my garden last year which I'm eager to grow out to see how it does. Yes, I know the joke about sewing my wild oats... it's funny, no?

Tickling in the back of my mind is the idea of growing garlic from true seed and true potato seed as ways of expanding the genetic diversity in my garden.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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D. Logan wrote:Does anyone else here have one of a kind varieties? Things passed down from a previous generation or something you took the time to cultivate yourself? Maybe it isn't something you have yet, but are working on or planning to work on in the near future as well. I, for one, would love to hear about these varieties and what sets them apart and/or why they were developed.


I still grow the winter wheat that was developed by my great-great-grandfather. About a century ago, it was the most widely planted wheat in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho.

I grow about 70 of my own varieties of row crops from about 55 species. Astronomy Domine Sweet corn was the first farmer developed variety that I grew. I fell in love with it because of the diversity and how well it grew for me. Here's what it looked like.


I live in a challenging climate, just about on or beyond the ecological range of many warm loving crops. Either the nights are too cool because of the intense radiant cooling, or the frost free season is too short, or both. Therefore, when I trial commercially available varieties it's common for me to have around 50% to 100% failure rates. I only need about a 1% success rate to eventually adapt a species to my growing conditions. With runner beans and mixta squash I had 100% failure rates for 4 to 5 years before they set fruit. I have managed to grow a little bit of my own seed for these crops now, so the project to develop my own strains will be easier from here on out.

When I started growing muskmelons I planted perhaps 50 varieties. 80% of them didn't produce fruits and thus no seeds either. I was able to harvest a few meager fruits that were still green and tasteless when the plants were killed by frost. I saved the seeds from the survivors and replanted. Two plants during the second year thrived. Here's a comparison between one of the commercial strains and my saved seed.

Typical growth of commercial muskmelon. (If they even get this far.)


This 2nd generation plant became the foundation of my muskmelon breeding program. Planted and photographed on the same day as the previous example. Growing a few feet apart. This plant and one other each produced more fruit than a 50 foot row of commercial and/or heirloom varieties.


I have been saving my own muskmelon seed for 6 years now. The plants thrive in my garden.


With the stunning success of the muskmelon project I decided that it would serve me well as a farmer if I grew all of my own varieties. Some crops like watermelon and runner beans continue to be difficult for me. But with enough genetic diversity to start, and with gene mixing by promiscuous pollination I've made great progress on many crops.

The first year I grew okra, 99% of the plants failed. Only one plant produced seeds. The plants that didn't die from cold or bugs maxed out at about ankle high. I saved the seeds and replanted. The second year two plants survived long enough to produce seeds, and they got to be knee high. One of them even survived the first fall frost! I saved the seed and replanted. The third year one of the plants was taller than the farmer, and there was enough okra to eat and to share with the community! It survived many fall frosts and was still producing fruit when I tilled the fields about 2 months later than any other okra had ever survived in my garden.




Carol Deppe's book "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties" gave me a good understanding of the principles involved in saving seeds. If I recall correctly, the book was written from the perspective of the traditional university plant breeding meme of practicing isolation and preventing crossing. I pretty thoroughly ignored the recommendations regarding isolation. My growing strategy is landrace oriented. Throw a few or a bunch of varieties into a field. Care for them or not. Allow them to promiscuously pollinate if they will. Save seeds from the survivors. Replant generation after generation until they become locally adapted, or they fail to become acclimated enough to replenish the seed. "Landrace Gardening" = "Survival-of-the-fittest".

I consider Carol to be my mentor and teacher. I considered it an honor when she added one of the varieties I developed to her seed catalog. It is so nice when a student grows up and creates something of benefit to the teacher. I felt honored again, with the release of her most recent book, that she devoted a section of "The Tao of Vegetable Gardening" to writing about my squash variety.





 
Elliott Harrah
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I have been working on a breed of large ruby red popcorn. I am still small but on second generation of a freak cross.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Peter Ingot
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I've been doing a lot of seed saving over the last few years. A lot of my vegetables seem to have gained improved drought and cold tolerance from being grown in the balkans (continental climate). One in particular was a kind of lettuce that now seems to stand over winter at temperatures hitting -28 C without any protection. It was bred from plants which survived not just cold but regular munching by geese. I take it as a good sign when things start self seeding. Diversity seems to be the most important factor in general health and vigour. Too much inbreeding, saving seed from just a few plants, selecting too much can result in weak and sickly plants.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Amazing information Joseph, thanks for posting it!

Have you done much experiments with perennial plants and trees?
 
Sam Boisseau
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Joseph: I've been aware of your breeding work for at least a couple years. Glad to see you've joined the forum!


I haven't bred any variety, but I've played around with true potato seeds. Also growing some varieties developed by Carol Deppe.


I would say that as I save seed from some species year after year I am in some way breeding new varieties...
 
Lynne Smith
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When I lived in florida I was working on a spagetti squash and acorn squash cross. I had good results on the first step. I had a picture of it somewhere...maybe I can dig it up.
I know many people don't seem to be impressed with the spagetti squash so I thought I could incorporate the buttery/ creamy flavor of the acorn into the spag. squash.
The outcome in first stage made the spag. squash more greener with flecks like the acorn.
I will have to keep at it till I get the results I want in it.
But I was pleased with the initial results.
 
Bethany Dutch
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Some years ago, I got myself a Piteba oil expeller, used it, loved it, and made a write-up about it on my blog. One of the things I pressed several times were pepitas - hulled pumpkin seeds. I loved the oil for my face and one very kind reader emailed me and offered to send me some seeds of true Styrian pumpkin seeds. These are hull-less, and this was before hull-less pumpkin varieties were commonly available. Styrian pumpkins are grown in Austria for their pumpkin oil industry, which is reputed to be the finest pumpkin seed oil in the world. So, naturally, I was very excited He had acquired some seeds directly from growers in the region.

I've had them stashed away and will be finally growing them this year! I haven't actually had a chance to put in a decent garden with room for experiments until now. I thought I'd lost them so I bought several other varieties like Lady Godiva and Kakai. And then I found the styrian ones. My mom is going to grow them too - she did a test sprout and had very quick and vigorous germination (these seeds are probably about 7 years old). The seeds are noticeably larger than the other hull-less varieties I bought.

So, while I haven't grown them yet, that's the most special seed that I have
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:Amazing information Joseph, thanks for posting it!

Have you done much experiments with perennial plants and trees?


All of the land that I grow on is begged or borrowed, and people are fickle, or they die, or they get divorced, or they go broke, or they move, and the land and the plants growing on it become unavailable, so it's been hard to have the space and the consistency to do perennials right. One of my landladies died 3 growing seasons ago, and the estate is still tied up in probate, but I still keep planting...

Ha! I struggle with biennials...

But seriously. Yes, I'm working on trees. Some of them end up being multi-generational projects... For example, with Carpathian walnuts. The first generation was planted about 70 years ago by someone unknown by me. About 30 years ago my in-laws planted a seed from that tree that grew into my current tree. I'm currently growing many dozens of Carpathian walnut seedlings per year and selecting among the third generation for seedlings that thrive in this area. Eventually they may grow up enough that I can start selecting for taste.

Last summer my oldest seed grown apricot ripened it's first fruits. They tasted great.

I am also working on pistachios, cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, almonds, kiwi and others. They work on the same principles, just takes longer to harvest seeds.
 
Mike Haych
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I am also working on pistachios, cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, almonds, kiwi and others. They work on the same principles, just takes longer to harvest seeds.


I find that grafting scionwood from the seedling produces fruit a great deal faster than waiting for the seedling to fruit especially if the host is a dwarfing variety. There is some evidence to suggest that there is genetic transfer between scion and host - Plant grafting: new mechanisms, evolutionary implications but I wonder how significant it is. Apples are grafted on many different kinds of rootstocks and yet the hybrid fruit is has the same characteristics, at least, at the level that we can detect - taste, colour, shape, etc. Whether or not the rootstocks are related and thus leading to similar characteristics is an interesting question. Certainly some of the Geneva rootstocks developed by Cornell are crosses with Malling rootstock - http://www.hort.cornell.edu/grafting/specific.grafting/AppleRS.html. It's difficult to find much information on the early Malling breeding programme but one wonders if it included any Russian germplasm such as Dolgo and Antonovka given the geo-politics of the early 20th century.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Adrien Lapointe wrote:

I am also working on pistachios, cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, almonds, kiwi and others. They work on the same principles, just takes longer to harvest seeds.


Pistachios and almonds! Do you start them from seeds and whatever can survive winter is the winner for the first generation? Did you get seeds from a hardy variety?
 
Dylan Mulder
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Awesome thread,

To anyone interested in plant breeding, Carol Deppe’s ‘Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties’, mentioned in the OP, is an excellent introduction. It has a definite focus on the practical for the grower, but isn’t afraid to go into detail, which it presents in an understandable way. Every other plant-breeding book I’ve found seems written for the laboratory or the specialist.

The book talks about ‘happy accidents’ - I’m now the happy owner of such a happy accident. A while back, I’d gotten some pole beans of a variety called ‘Rattlesnake’. While most of these plants came true to seed, a few turned out to be F1 crosses. Rattlesnake itself has excellent fresh eating quality with a good flavor. Of the mystery hybrids, one had some interesting and desirable traits.

It had the same eating quality of rattlesnake, but the pods were longer and straighter. This is desirable, because larger pods typically result in the plant setting fewer of them, and this means a faster harvest. It also had more purple streaking on the pods than the rattlesnake parent, which makes the pods easier to see while harvesting. The beans also happen to be gorgeous.

On the left is the parent material, a typical rattlesnake. In the center is also a typical rattlesnake, though the seed is newer. On the right are the F2 seeds of the hybrid.

My overall goal is to now dehybridize this new bean, and stabilize a variety that is similar to the hybrid.

Another little story, about a breeding project that failed. I love garlic chives - anyone familiar with this plant knows how cold tolerant it is. It often persists well into Winter before the harder frosts send it into dormancy. What it has in cold tolerance it lacks in heat tolerance. During my regions typical hot and dry season, garlic chives develop a condition I call ‘yellow tip’. The leaf tip yellows and withers, followed by an overall drop in eating quality.

I planted out a hundred or so garlic chives from seed - my goal was to find and breed the plants with the most drought tolerance. By this point, I’d already made two mistakes.

1) I wrongly assumed that the flaw was in the plant or variety itself. Of the garlic chives I planted, the ones that never developed ‘yellow tip’ were near to a fig bush and thus shaded. In addition, these shaded plants were twice the size of their peers! Everything was wrong with my growing conditions.

2) All of the unshaded plants developed yellow tip and were equally drought intolerant. I wrongly assumed that this plant had any drought tolerant genes to select. A truly drought tolerant garlic chive may be impossible, or possible but unpalatable.
Beans.jpg
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Bean comparison
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Adrien: All of my breeding work starts with seeds, and winter survival is a key requirement for the trees. The pistachio, almond, apple, and apricot seeds were collected feral or from villages near the Vavilov centers of diversity for those species. I marked two apple trees for culling last spring, because they were so thorny that they cut my hands. One even punctured the sole of my work boots. Ouch!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I love growing the descendents of naturally occurring bean hybrids. I watch my garden carefully looking for new crosses. Here's one that I have photos for...

The mother was a yellow bean (Dutch Brown). The father was unknown.

That hybrid cross produced grandchildren that looked like the beans in the hand.


The great-grandchildren looked like this: Those yellow beans on the top/right are what the mother looked like originally.


Here's another bean clade descended from a different naturally occurring hybrid.

 
S Bengi
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:.....

I am also working on pistachios, cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, almonds, kiwi and others. They work on the same principles, just takes longer to harvest seeds.



I am in zone 6. Where can I get some pistachio seedling, named cultivar or just plain seeds, that will handle zone 6 temps.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Yes, I'm working on trees. Some of them end up being multi-generational projects... For example, with Carpathian walnuts. The first generation was planted about 70 years ago by someone unknown by me. About 30 years ago my in-laws planted a seed from that tree that grew into my current tree.  I'm currently growing many dozens of Carpathian walnut seedlings per year and selecting among the third generation for seedlings that thrive in this area. Eventually they may grow up enough that I can start selecting for taste. 


A member of the forum asked for more details about my Carpathian Walnut Breeding program... Might as well make my reply public.

Carpathian walnuts are weeds in my yard. So selection is continuous. For example, anything that winter-kills self eliminates. I actively chop out any plants that die back during the winter.  There are differences in vigor that could be caused by differences in location, or by differences in genetics. I don't try to sort it out.  If a plant thrives, then it is permitted to grow. The most vigorous seedlings are dug up and distributed to the community. The least vigorous are chopped out. Some of the seedlings are 15 feet tall already, so they may be producing soon.

This is a haphazard breeding project. I am not planting into a nursery. I'm not trying to provide similar conditions to each seedling so that I can accurately compare them to each other. I'm just observing the natural order of things. Then nurturing plants that thrive, and chopping out plants that struggle.

I have been digging the most vigorous and winter hardy plants and sharing them widely with my community, including into colder valleys nearby. So a decade from now, I hope to follow up with a number of those gardeners and evaluate things like precociousness, taste, etc. One of my collaborators has called my walnuts "the best tasting walnut". Because of that, I expect that many of the offspring will also taste great.

In summary, I am growing Carpathian Walnuts more as a lifestyle than as a breeding project. Or they are growing themselves, and I'm just moving the best growing winter-hardy plants to other gardens.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Here's what my landrace tomatoes looked like at the farmer's market yesterday.

tomatoes-2016-09-24.jpg
[Thumbnail for tomatoes-2016-09-24.jpg]
Landrace tomatoes
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Today I'm doing the final selection for this year's seed crop on my "Small Moschata Squash" landrace. I already selected in the field for size, shape, and productivity. Today I am selecting for color, taste, and keeping qualities. I taste every fruit before saving seed from it.

First I cut them open and check out the color. In my opinion, high carotene levels make a better tasting squash. I can see carotenes by the orange color of the fruit. So I select for the orangest fruits. I have already culled two fruits that were pale colored, almost white. Ugh! I don't even need to taste those.

Then I cook those that pass the preliminary screening.

Then I taste them and decide what to keep for seed. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. A couple of the deepest orange fruits will be saved separately, so I can plant them in higher numbers next year. (Edit to add, one squash was culled after tasting.)
moschata-selection-counter_640.jpg
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Selecting squash by color
moschata-selection-pan_640.jpg
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Tasting every squash.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Very exciting. I can't wait to continue with my own experiments. My first year garden has been very prolific, and I am still harvesting from it. Anything that goes to seed has been/will be saved - so far it's mostly some herbs, parsley, lettuce, tomatoes, and broccoli. I'm hoping for kale seeds. I didn't have room for much more than that, but next year drying peas, drying beans and squash will be on the list, along with some more tomatoes added to the beginnings of the tomato landrace.

I'm pretty excited to grow out this year's saved seeds next year and seeing what I get!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tracy: Good job on saving seeds, and on intending to save more. People sometimes want to make plant breeding into some esoteric activity. In my world view, the mere act of saving seeds makes someone a plant breeder. Because there are always subtle differences between plants in the same variety. And saving seeds inevitably leads to selecting for those variations that do best in the garden where the seeds were grown.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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A plant showed up in my garden this year that produced 6 fruits like these. They are from a breeding project in which I have been selecting the smallest butternut squashes for many generations. They only weigh 3 ounces each. So total yield from the plant is about a pound. That's a low yield. I definitely don't want the fruits in the "small" population to be this small. But perhaps they are the beginning of a different project.  I cooked a couple of the fruits today. They are deep orange which I like, but the texture was grainy (like a spaghetti squash) and not pleasing to me. Tonight, I saved the seeds from the fruits. I'm intending to grow them next year as a curiosity to see if anything interesting comes from them.  One of the fun things about plant breeding for me, is that I get to observe things, and then entertain fantasies... For example: What uses might there be for a micro-squash? Decorative? Educational? Inter-species hybrid? Suitable for small spaces? A hit at a local restaurant? Next Internet fad for "Micro-fruits"? Spaghetti-type texture in a moschata? Etc... 
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Micro-moschata squash
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Winter is nigh. I've been storing the winter squash in the greenhouse, but temperatures are getting cold. I need to get them out of there before they freeze. So I'm cutting open the squash, tasting them, cooking them, and tasting them again. I'm saving seeds today from anything that passes the screening. I already screened them in the field for size, productivity, color, shape, disease tolerance, pest resistance, and other traits that I value. Right now I'm working on the "Medium Moschata Landrace". I have already culled 3 squash. Two for taste, and one for having a hard skin. I've selected a couple to spin off into sister-lines, because they have a trait that I want to explore more fully.

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Tasting squash before saving seeds from them.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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While harvesting squash seeds today, I noticed big differences in ease of harvest between different squash fruits. So I started a new thread to explore ideas associated with "Plant Breeding For Human Scale Farming".

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm testing fava beans for winter hardiness in my climate (USDA Zone 4b). This seems like the perfect age to be going into winter.

Also, I didn't till under the fava bean bed, so there are lots of old plants, and lots of volunteers of many different ages. I'll be watching to see if anything is still alive in the spring. There are many hundreds of plants growing. If only one of them survives, then that's the beginning of a winter-hardy fava bean landrace.

I'm also doing winter hardiness testing on lentils, garbanzo beans, peas, mustard spice, bok choi, spinach, lettuce, and kale/cabbage. Messing with my normal way of doing things (by planting in the fall) seems like a good way to get an edge on having crops ready to eat earlier in the spring.

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Testing Fava Beans For Winter Hardiness.
 
Simone Gar
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So when do you fall sow fava beans? I am a zone colder but I am playing with cold hardy-ish flowers. Wondering about vegetable now. I need to relieve spring time so late summer/fall planting would be ideal.
 
R Ranson
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Simone Gar wrote:So when do you fall sow fava beans? I am a zone colder but I am playing with cold hardy-ish flowers. Wondering about vegetable now. I need to relieve spring time so late summer/fall planting would be ideal.


If your local area has a tradition of overwintering grains like rye, barley, wheat, it's a good guide for when to plant favas.  A lot of places in the Northern hemisphere plant in September, so that's a good time to play with.  Ideally, the fava beans will be less than 4 inches high (2 is better) by the time that winter hits (hard frost or snow).  Now, that's the official timing.  It seems to me that there is a huge difference between official planting times and what actually works.  I recommend playing with different planting times.

Where I am, I plant when the fall rains begin (middle of Oct) and plant more about once a month until the end of March (if the soil isn't frozen).  But this year and last, I've had fava beans volunteering to grow in my garden in the summer, and some of them have overwintered.  It might be fun to do a small experiment planting fava beans every second week from the Summer solstice through to when the ground freezes over.  That way, you can see what works for you, in your location. 
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Another day, another variety of squash that I'm saving seeds from. Today, I'm working on cooking and tasting "Lofthouse Landrace Moschata, Medium". So far, I've culled 3 fruits of 13, because I didn't like something about the flavor/texture/color. I have two more batches of the long-necked squash to cook. Those are always an acceptable shape for this variety. Then I get to sort through the pumpkins and decide how many to keep. I already culled a couple of them for not keeping well. My aim is to keep 90% of seeds from necked-squash or butternuts, and 10% from pumpkins. If I wanted, I could separate the pumpkins into a separate landrace, or even turn them into a more inbred "variety". I have 4 isolated fields that I can plant into, but as many varieties as I grow, I'm always planting with at least semi-isolation of varieties in mind. I like a little bit of crossing between sister-lines. However, I like to keep it under about 5%. For squash, that means about 100 feet of separation on my farm. Some of my fields are more than 300 feet long/wide, so that means that I can grow the same species in each corner of a field, and have them 95% isolated from each other.

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Extracting moschata necked-squash seeds.
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Tasting squash before saving seeds.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Today, I cooked the squash from another of my breeding projects: Small Maxima Landrace. I tasted every fruit as is typical for me. Today, all the fruits had an acceptable flavor. Two fruits were exceptionally tasty, so I saved their seeds separately. Then I can plant them in higher numbers next growing season. I also saved seeds separately for a squash that was exceptionally pretty, and for a couple that were early to mature. I scratched and "E" onto fruits early in the growing season so I can find the squash after harvest. I use the tip of a pocket-knife. I write other things on squash as well. The medium-sized maximas that I worked on a week ago weigh about 5 to 15 pounds. The small-sized weigh about 2 to 5 pounds. 

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Small-fruited maxima landrace
 
Maureen Atsali
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I'm not sure if its truly a unique cultivar... but we came up with a red-stalked maize, with a red/purple cob.  The corn kernels are white or yellow or mixed, but the cob is a deep purple, and it stains the water when you boil the maize.  The taste is the best I've found in Kenya.  Sweet, tender, and early.  Stalks are medium in height, and with good fertility will produce 2-3 medium sized ears per stalk.  It seems to thrive the best of anything we planted.  I wanted an open-pollinated variety, and what I had imported from the USA all failed.  Monsanto maize has taken over the country, but by going around to the elderly folks in the village I was able to gather several varieties of what they termed the "old" kind of maize.  Without knowing what is what, we mixed the seeds together and planted them all.  First season we got all kinds of maize - a white/purple kernel variety, white, yellow, orange, red, but not the red-stalk.  The red-stalked variety showed up in the second season, from seeds we collected and replanted from the first season.
 
Maureen Atsali
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I already harvested all the maize, but I had a couple of stalks still standing in the field.  Anyone seen maize/corn like this before?  I'll have to wait till next season get pictures of the cobs.  I could post pics of the seed, but they don't look particularly like anything special, just ordinary white and yellow seeds.
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Joseph Lofthouse
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Maureen Atsali wrote:Anyone seen maize/corn like this before?


It's a trait that shows up sometimes in the landrace corn that I grow.

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Corn with red stalks
 
Casie Becker
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I have culled my first plants in support of retaining breed purity (almost left the typo purtity). Joseph, the crimson flowering favas are growing nicely and started blooming last week. It's been painful for me but I've been cutting out any that don't have that beautiful violet red to crimson shade of flower. None of the other varieties (three from Baker Creek and your landrace) have bloomed yet. I don't know if that means these are an early variety or if it was just a matter of getting the sunniest bed that was pampered earlier this year for Jazmyn's corn.

I did share seed with a neighbor this year from all five varieties. I'll try to send back crimson seed for you this spring, assuming you'd like it. The way our growing seasons line up, I wouldn't be surprised if the fava here mature at the same time as you need to plant them there.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Casie: Thanks for the grow report and offer of seed sharing. The crimson-flowering fava seed was grown intermixed with white-flowering favas. Do you happen to have a sense of what percentage are turning out non-crimson? That'd give me an idea about the cross pollination rate of favas in my garden. I'm expecting to plant favas twice. As transplants about the 3rd week of February, and direct seeded in mid-March.

In other news. I continue to work on drying, threshing, and cleaning seeds. I'm expecting to get germination testing and packaging finished before the end of the month. So I'm right on schedule to start shipping in January.

 
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