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One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

 
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Aislinn Caron wrote:

I'm so fascinated by the idea of adapting seeds/plants by starting them in poor conditions! Any more thoughts or info? I've searched online but I don't even know what to call it!



See: landrace.

Joseph has a great series of articles on the subject over on Mother Earth News, and a few videos floating around on YouTube. He gave a talk at... I think OSU?... that I particularly enjoyed.
 
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Aislinn Caron wrote:I'm so fascinated by the idea of adapting seeds/plants by starting them in poor conditions! Any more thoughts or info? I've searched online but I don't even know what to call it!

I don't think there's a specific name for it. I just know that I get less than a 25% germination rate from new seeds planted for the first time in my yard. Often 0 or 10%. Survival rate is also low. The 2nd generation does better, if I can get just one plant to produce seeds. I long ago realized that this is the result of generations of seed farmers using ideal conditions, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. The perfect water, the perfect soil, the perfect light, the perfect nutrients, and over time the seeds have lost their ability to adapt.

I'm forcing the seeds to adapt, keeping seeds only from those that survive under harsh conditions. If they don't thrive, they damp off or dry out or otherwise remove themselves from the genepool.

My environment is hot, dry, with alkaline water and bad soil (primarily sand) except in the main garden which has been intensively composted for 50 years. If I want a garden, I need to have plants that can adapt or they will NOT survive.

So I start my seeds on a windowsill without extra light, without extra heat, in plain unamended garden soil that I don't sterilize. And after a few generations, they thrive.

They grow much more slowly and with a lower survival rate than those planted in perfect conditions, but they quickly catch up once they're in the ground.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Some people always trellis their tomatoes, because they say that the plants die of disease if the foliage touches the ground. I grow my tomatoes sprawling directly on the ground. The field sprinklers cover the foliage with dirt. They don't care, because that is the conditions under which they have lived since time immemorial. Any tomato that can't handle the dirt can't grow on my farm. Generation after generation, my habits and ecosystem select for varieties of tomatoes that thrive when covered with dirt.



Joseph, I got so excited when I first heard you talk about the way your tomatoes have adapted to not being trellised. I HATE trellising. This was an atrocious year for solanum species because we had a long, cool, wet spring with a late frost, and then I had deer get into the garden and eat almost everything that survived down to the ground. I literally only had one tomato plant out of thirty survive all of that and manage to ripen fruit after the deer ate the other dozen plus fruit. Never trellised. I'm sure the friends that visited my garden thought I was just being lazy, or had given up (which, I suppose, is a half truth). But after I heard you talk about your tomatoes, I realized I was just selecting for the kind of work that I'm willing to do. I think for the most part, it managed to hold all of the fruit up off of the ground. I saved all the seeds from the two good fruit I got and I'm excited to grow a bunch out alongside more from the original packet. Now I just gotta start keeping an eye out for other varieties/traits I want to add to my mix. These weren't as early as I'd have liked (granted, they took a thrashing that really set them back), so maybe some earliness and maybe some cold-hardiness from Russian varieties will be at the top of my list.

I also accidentally ended up with a tomatillo that was self-fruitful. Like with my tomatoes, I only had one out of a dozen or so plants survive the weather/pests. I didn't expect to get fruit since everything I've read about tomatillos says that they require at least two different plants to set fruit. Well, I started plucking the flowers off as they started to form, thinking that I might be able to get it to put more energy into green growth while I hunted for some tomatillos starts, the idea being that I'd end up with one massive plant that was ready to set a ton of fruit as soon as I had a pollen donor. Well, eventually it was clear that I wasn't going to be able to get any tomatillo starts, so I just let it go. And wouldn't you know it, but it set fruit! Mind you, I'm a mile from my nearest neighbor and surrounded by forest on all side, and tomatillos aren't a popular thing to grow here so I know pollen wasn't being carried in from elsewhere, especially not with the amount of fruit set I got. Of course, this variety was supposed to get to about the size of a beefsteak tomato, and they never got any larger than a typical tomatillo with the constant stress, but still. The deer massacred this plant as well, so I didn't really get a chance to harvest any fruit throughout the season, but it did rebound after being severely chomped. When our first light frost hit, it had two golf ball sized fruits that I brought in and cut into. Even from such undeveloped fruit I got 2 or 3 seeds. It's not much, but hopefully enough to keep that trait alive.

Now, I'm not sure that being self-fruitful is a particularly helpful trait in my circumstances, since I'm unlikely to grow a single plant unless I have another year where only one plant survives (though, it might help increase production in cases where another pollenizer is actually available.) But if it's a trait that I can stabilize in my population, then I could see giving plants to people with limited space, or without the need for more tomatillos than a single plant would produce. And if I have them save seeds from those isolated plants, then I'll be selecting for that self-fruitful trait. So, while I personally might not have a need for a self-fruitful tomatillo, I think there's definitely a market for them in general. Of course, starting with only 2 or 3 seeds definitely limits my chances to pass on that trait unless it's already prevalent in this variety, so we'll see what happens.

Joseph, I know you've got quite the bean collection. Have you had issues with mosaic virus and have you been able to select for resistance against it? I've never had mosaic before, and this past year I had a bunch of struggling plants that I chalked up to drought stress and especially poor soil. Only in retrospect did I realize that I was seeing symptoms of mosaic virus, which I know is transmitted through seed. I lost my entire bean crop (primarily because of the deer, not that the disease helped) and only have a little bit of that seed remaining (well, same variety, but a younger generation than the crop I lost.) I'm wondering if I should forgo planting it, or at least keep it away from my other beans. My general plan for this next season was to buy in a new variety in bulk and then sprinkle in a smattering of other varieties that I can get my hands on. But I'm hesitant to mix seeds if I risk contaminating everything before I have a chance to select for resistance. Although resistance is a trait I want to select for, I can't really afford to lose my whole crop again in the process. I'm also guessing this won't be a good year to play it fast and loose with the crop rotation.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

Joseph, I know you've got quite the bean collection. Have you had issues with mosaic virus and have you been able to select for resistance against it? I've never had mosaic before, and this past year I had a bunch of struggling plants that I chalked up to drought stress and especially poor soil. Only in retrospect did I realize that I was seeing symptoms of mosaic virus, which I know is transmitted through seed. I lost my entire bean crop (primarily because of the deer, not that the disease helped) and only have a little bit of that seed remaining (well, same variety, but a younger generation than the crop I lost.) I'm wondering if I should forgo planting it, or at least keep it away from my other beans. My general plan for this next season was to buy in a new variety in bulk and then sprinkle in a smattering of other varieties that I can get my hands on. But I'm hesitant to mix seeds if I risk contaminating everything before I have a chance to select for resistance. Although resistance is a trait I want to select for, I can't really afford to lose my whole crop again in the process. I'm also guessing this won't be a good year to play it fast and loose with the crop rotation.



If it were me, and I had space, I'd put half the remaining seeds somewhere downwind of the other beans, close spacing, and keep seeds from anything that survived. Start your resistance trials while working with your major bean crop in another area.
 
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I love this topic, have to chime in on the tomato trellising thing. I have two gardens the Back 40 or survival garden where I trial things in terrible conditions. It has only been a garden for about five years and just this year all the stumps rotted enough that I could dig them out.  It is also the one that gets neglected or even entirely abandoned if life gets complicated. Back there tomatoes sprawl in the weeds as best they can but when one shows its self worthy it gets promoted to the front garden.

The front garden has a number of no-till beds ranging from three to ten feet wide and about sixty feet long. In a good year one of the three footers will easily exceed our quota of fifty pints of juice plus some canned whole tomatoes and some sauce. That is if I trellis them. If I don't trellis they most certainly would invade the paths on both sides and easily into the neighboring beds. It's more of a pain trying to keep pointing them back into their own space that it is to trellis. Letting them have even six feet by sprawling instead of their assigned three cuts into the overall garden production too much.

Both of my gardens are 100% no-cides and always have been. A few years ago I also went 100 % no-till, hard labor was cut by 50% and production increased quite noticeably.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Lauren Ritz wrote:
If it were me, and I had space, I'd put half the remaining seeds somewhere downwind of the other beans, close spacing, and keep seeds from anything that survived. Start your resistance trials while working with your major bean crop in another area.



Unfortunately, there is no downwind. Haha. We're in a box canyon, so the wind blows one direction in the morning and the other direction in the evening. One of my big goals for this year is to start getting stuff planted as windbreak, but it'll still be some time before it's functional.

The upside is that I'm definitely selecting seeds that can survive high winds. We had 60mph winds one night and everyone else complained that their corn blew over. Meanwhile, I was like "I don't even know what you're talking about." Did have a few seed stalks blow off of my daikons at one point, but that was only after they were getting good and dry.
 
Lauren Ritz
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We also have winds that blow in various directions, west to east or east to west. So when I need to separate a population it goes south of the house (still developing) or north of it (main garden)
 
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I just love the idea of landrace crops!! I'm voraciously reading everything I can find on the subject! Mostly your stuff, Joseph,  which is fantastic and so inspiring. This coming year I plan to try my hand at some beginner landrace plantings. My question is specifically starting seeds indoors - I have to do this for a lot of things because I have such a short season (4a Canada, so that's 3a equivalent for the Americans). It makes sense to me to start the adapting to less than stellar conditions right from the seed being planted indoors. Because if I plant them in fabulous seed starting soil and baby the heck out of them (which I've always done in the past ) and then plant them outside to a semi STUN life, I will already not have the best adapted plants. But I never hear anyone talking or writing about this for indoor seed starting, you were the first one, Lauren!

Something has just occurred to me!  I'm selecting for plants that I need to start indoors!  Is it possible in my zone to direct seed everything and still get a good harvest??
 
Mathew Trotter
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Lauren Ritz wrote:We also have winds that blow in various directions, west to east or east to west. So when I need to separate a population it goes south of the house (still developing) or north of it (main garden)



We don't even have a house yet. Hahaha.

But that is a good point.We DO have a structure, and I did use it to separate tomato varieties that I didn't want to cross with the stuff in my main garden this year. It's not really an ideal spot for beans, but I can probably make it work. Just slowly shuffling the garden around in my head...
 
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Aislinn Caron wrote:Something has just occurred to me!  I'm selecting for plants that I need to start indoors!  Is it possible in my zone to direct seed everything and still get a good harvest??



Exactly!!! We get what we select for. If we start seeds indoors, then we are selecting for plants that do best when started indoors. Perhaps they even require being started that way. If we want to select for crops that do well when direct seeded, we need to be saving and replanting seeds from crops that were direct seeded. Starting with genetically diverse promiscuously pollinating varieties (landraces) makes the selection much easier.

It is my intent to direct seed everything that I possibly can. I'm still working on tomatoes. The tomato flee beetles voraciously devour the direct seeded tomatoes each year. Once in a while, a direct seeded tomato survives and produces fruit, therefore there is hope that my whole population can move in that direction. Tomatoes are the only crop that I am currently starting as transplants. It might also be possible to develop a system, for example planting mustard with the tomatoes as a way of distracting the flee beetles away from the tomatoes.

Mathew Trotter: I don't pay attention to diseases or pests in my garden. I don't know if I have any or not. Those plants/varieties that are susceptible to diseases or pests died a long time ago. I'll tell a story... Once upon a time, a lady asked for space to grow a garden in my field. I consented, and she planted a garden with wonderful varieties from the industrialized seed catalogs. Her Zucchini squash developed terrible diseases, attracted tons of squash bugs, and succumbed. My landrace varieties that were growing in the same field just grew like they always do: Oblivious to the diseases and pests.

I tend to welcome diseases and pests into my garden, because if they are present in my garden and the plants survive anyway, that is a great biological system. I don't have to kill the bugs in order to harvest from the plants, I just have to grow plants/bugs that are in harmony with each other.

One of my favorite tomato plants this year grew with a woody stem, like a shrubbery. I hope that I get the chance to explore it's offspring next summer.


 
Mathew Trotter
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Aislinn Caron wrote:Something has just occurred to me!  I'm selecting for plants that I need to start indoors!  Is it possible in my zone to direct seed everything and still get a good harvest??



I think painted mountain corn is one such landrace that was selected for it's ability to produce in a very short northerly climate, IIRC.

I would probably do a combination. Start things indoors like you normally would, just as a backup, but also direct sow a lot as well. I'd probably direct sow a little every week or two, starting when you'd normally start things indoors. Basically, you'd want to select for two things: cold resistance, so you can direct sow things earlier in the season, and early maturity, so you can harvest things before the season ends. Likely most of the things you direct sow will die. That's fine. Just fill in with the stuff you started indoors. Then, at least for things like greens, roots, etc., I'd harvest all of the plants that were started indoors and only leave the ones that were direct sown to produce seed.

Of course, that wouldn't be an option for fruiting plants, where they've already contributed to the gene pool before you can harvest them. But you can just not save seeds from the ones that were started indoors. Sure, they can pass on their genes, but by saving from the direct sown plants, you're guaranteeing that at least half of the genetics are from a plant that was able to produce from direct seeding. That will maximize genetics for cold hardiness and early maturity such that in the following season you'll probably have more of the direct seeded plants make it, and won't need to fill in with so many starts.

You're gonna kill a lot of plants. But that's just a part of plant breeding.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Mathew Trotter: I don't pay attention to diseases or pests in my garden. I don't know if I have any or not. Those plants/varieties that are susceptible to diseases or pests died a long time ago. I'll tell a story... Once upon a time, a lady asked for space to grow a garden in my field. I consented, and she planted a garden with wonderful varieties from the industrialized seed catalogs. Her Zucchini squash developed terrible diseases, attracted tons of squash bugs, and succumbed. My landrace varieties that were growing in the same field just grew like they always do: Oblivious to the diseases and pests.

I tend to welcome diseases and pests into my garden, because if they are present in my garden and the plants survive anyway, that is a great biological system. I don't have to kill the bugs in order to harvest from the plants, I just have to grow plants/bugs that are in harmony with each other.



I pay attention, I just don't do anything about it as a rule. My favas were ravaged by some kind of fungus last year. The strong reproduced and the weak perished. I was happy to let the environment do the selection for me, and all of the offspring that are growing right now look gorgeous as a result.

But I was expecting to harvest about 50 pounds of beans and got nothing instead (the ones that bounced back were killed by frost before they could mature seed.) It would have been a bummer if I weren't subsisting on what I grow, but since I am, it was pretty devastating. I couldn't even stand to look at the garden for a good couple of weeks at least.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Many of the solanum relatives do just fine with self seeding, so I don't see why tomatoes couldn't be trained to do this as well. Next year I'm dry gardening the tomatoes, so I'm not sure that direct seeding them will be an option. Definitely something to explore. Because I'm still trying to get a viable population of the sweet peppers I'll be planting them in the (unheated) greenhouse. The sweet potato seeds will be planted early as well (no bottom heat, bad soil, blah, blah, blah). Everything else will just go in the ground.

I do pick squash bugs, but pretty much ignore everything else and it all evens out. Last year I had three plants--a zucchini, a pumpkin x spaghetti squash, and a kuri squash which didn't seem affected by the squash bugs. I spent most of the season picking them off the other plants, those they didn't kill outright. These three all had squash bugs but didn't seem to mind.

Squash bugs have always just been the one thing we always fought and I never thought that might not be necessary. Bean beetles, earwigs in the corn, whatever, no problem. But all-out war on squash bugs.

One of these days when I have (much) more space I'm going to plant dozens of the same type and see what happens.
 
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Aislinn Caron wrote:Is it possible in my zone to direct seed everything and still get a good harvest??


Joseph's plants would be a good foundation, because they're already adapted to a short growing season. You still have approximately 2-3 months, so direct seeding is possible except for the longest season crops. Keep seeds from the plants that produce earliest.

It took several generations before the plants were comfortable with being "stunned." Even now, some grow much slower than others. People baby seedlings because they think the plants will be weaker, or that they won't produce. Which may be correct in the first few generations, so watch for those that do produce as you would like and keep seeds from them.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Lauren Ritz wrote:One of these days when I have (much) more space I'm going to plant dozens of the same type and see what happens.



Perhaps, plant one each of dozens of types. That gives more opportunities to see what really thrives. That's how I started most of my landraces.
 
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Mathew, that is a fantastic idea! I think I will try that.  I have such a small home garden at the moment that it's hard to imagine being ok with all the plant losses that will result from landracing. Well, and even having the space for many multiple varieties! But I shall do what I can. Joseph, I'm so encouraged to hear that you direct seed all but tomatoes! I was wondering exactly that. Lauren, yep, the plan is definitely to start with a bunch of Joseph's seed.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Perhaps, plant one each of dozens of types. That gives more opportunities to see what really thrives. That's how I started most of my landraces.


To a certain extent, yes, if you're assuming that the traits are specific to a variety and not to a particular plant.

However, I find that there are individuals in any group that will survive and/or thrive. I planted 5 spaghetti squash crosses--four of them were attacked by squash bugs, and two killed outright. One thrived. By limiting the "population" to one, you don't necessarily find the genetic expression you're looking for. Something about that plant helped it survive. If I'd planted only one of those five in a larger population of pepos, I'd have had a 1 in 5 chance of getting that one resistant squash.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Another thing that I often do is to plant 10 to 50 seeds in a clump, and let them fend for themselves. It's a very simple way to screen for genetics that work well in my garden while taking up the same space as one plant.
 
Mathew Trotter
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I think it was melons that Joseph said he started several hundred of (I want to say upwards of 500 or 700) just to have something like 5 produce. But it only takes the one, and then next season you'll be swimming in them. I was simultaneously awed by how many it took just to have so few produce, but also inspired by just how overwhelmingly productive the next generation was.

That's kind of how okra is for me here (at least with regards to planting hundreds and only having a few produce.) I was stoked just to get some that produced seeds this year. Hopefully next year I'll be swimming in okra. (Of course, the variety I grew this year was a hybrid, so I don't know how the F2 generation is going to shake out, but I'm excited to find out.)

It might be a bit counterintuitive to recommend Carol Deppe's Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties (or something like that... I usually mess the title up) in a thread about landraces, and it certainly gets a bit heavier than your run of the mill gardening book, but it genuinely took away a lot of the fear I had about messing up my genetics in some irrecoverable way. And she really opened me up to using hybrids in my breeding projects, and it especially makes a good fit when you're developing landraces anyway and don't mind a bit of variation in future generations. But Joseph does speak of some useful caveats regarding cytoplasmic male sterility which are useful to keep in mind during our breeding adventures.
 
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Okra is a species like the cucurbits that tend to do poorly if transplanted. They do best if direct seeded.

At one time, I toyed with the idea of selecting for a variety of okra that would thrive if transplanted. But they reproduce if direct seeded, so it seemed like too much effort.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Okra is a species like the cucurbits that tend to do poorly if transplanted. They do best if direct seeded.



Oh yeah. These were direct seeded. I'm too lazy (efficient?) to go out of my way to breed something that requires that much babying. Even though okra probably would benefit from a bit more coddling in our cool weather. I'd rather just keep killing plants until something decides to live.

The only thing that I transplant are tomatoes and peppers, for the reasons stated above. If I thought I could get away with direct sowing them, I would in a heartbeat. Though, I'll be growing some baccatum (spelling?) peppers this year, and I'm kind hoping I can prune them back heavily and overwinter them in the ground with a little bit of winter protection, which would save me the effort of starting seeds altogether. I think we're a half zone (maybe a full zone) cooler than they're purported to perennialize in, so I've got my fingers crossed.
 
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One year, I direct seeded something like 10,000 pepper seeds. Alas, none of them grew faster than the weeds, and all were lost.
 
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Squash bugs have always just been the one thing we always fought and I never thought that might not be necessary. Bean beetles, earwigs in the corn, whatever, no problem. But all-out war on squash bugs.  


Lauren, there was a threat on Permies about exactly this problem by someone who had decided to take the land racing-approach to the problem. It's a shame i can't find the exact thread. The person started it and was speaking out against land-racing at first , everybody chimed in and some people convinced him otherwise. It read like a thriller, he lost all his squash but one and then planted those seeds and they did better and in the end he was so happy and thankful he kept going with it, because they were beautiful and it saved him so much work selecting for a squash bug resistant variety.
It's a shame i can't find it, maybe someone remembers and can find the link.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Mathew Trotter wrote:Just slowly shuffling the garden around in my head...

I "shuffle" my garden so much that I started keeping my map on the wall with strips of sticky notes.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Hugo Morvan wrote:
Lauren, there was a threat on Permies about exactly this problem by someone who had decided to take the land racing-approach to the problem. It's a shame i can't find the exact thread. The person started it and was speaking out against land-racing at first , everybody chimed in and some people convinced him otherwise. It read like a thriller, he lost all his squash but one and then planted those seeds and they did better and in the end he was so happy and thankful he kept going with it, because they were beautiful and it saved him so much work selecting for a squash bug resistant variety.
It's a shame i can't find it, maybe someone remembers and can find the link.



https://permies.com/t/120/57948/permaculture-insect-control-failed
 
Hugo Morvan
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Excellent Lauren that's the one.
I love this bit.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. I just wanted to throw a Big Thank You out to all of my friends here. I also have good news! Year after year I have saved a few scrawny seeds from whatever plants my herd of squash bugs bugs have destroyed. Every year it has gotten a bit easier. This year was the breakthrough though. I was able to harvest a sizable amount of spaghetti squash, and pumpkins! The plants were (still are) so robust no amount of bug pressure could stop them. I am now 100% convinced that permaculture has not failed but enriched my life and farm. Next year I will go out to plant hundreds of my seeds that are sure to do well. I would like to especially thank Joseph Lofthouse for his insights that turned out to be right on the money.


Maybe he'd like to share a few of his seeds?
 
Mark Reed
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For me some things just exceed my capabilities for land race selection. Winter squash and potatoes are two big ones that come to mind. I worried and stressed about those two crops and wasted too much space and effort for too long. Finally for the most part I abandoned them completely. Some things just take a much larger area than I can afford to accommodate the required population for landrace development.

I imagine if I was to devote both of my gardens to nothing but squash for a few seasons I might solve the bug and mold issues that plague that crop but I am just not that devoted, no matter how much I like them. I still usually plant a few on the off chance I'll get a harvest but rarely do. This year I did get 1/2 a dozen little acorns and two of some other kind that I think is descended from Tetsukabuto so I will plant a few of each next year. I also still grow some potatoes each year but from purchased seed tubers. Potatoes over all are not as easy to grow here as they used to be and getting them to make seeds is near impossible and to me a crop that doesn't make seeds doesn't fit the goal of indefinite sustainability.  Fortunately my chance, dumb luck, discovery of sweet potato seeds has more than made up the deficit left by losing potatoes and squash.

There are some other things I'm still struggling with. For example I think I just don't know yet exactly how to grow carrots and cabbage. What has worked for me with some things like radish, mustard, dill, and some others is to just let them volunteer. I could research forever and never know as much about when to plant a radish as a radish does. Those things all did it themselves but when I stopped saving onion seeds and applied the same concept to them I ended up in short order with wonderful winter hardy onions. My question of when to plant onion seeds in my climate had a simple answer, when the onions do. Seems to also be working with carrots. I think it is probably the best way to do it with about any cold tolerant or even better, winter hardy crop.

Not sure about my cabbage-ish stuff yet but my beautiful crop that was planted at the same time kale was dropping seed is out there right now. Various cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collards have so far survived 24 F with little damage. I buried them in dry leaves the other day in preparation for the 12 F , 9 F they are experiencing right now. (the worms finally croaked at 24) If any survive the 9 F,  I'll make little hoop covers to protect them in case of sub zero temps. Hope is to get even a few all the way through to cross with the three kinds of already winter proven, volunteer kales also growing right now.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

But I was expecting to harvest about 50 pounds of beans and got nothing instead (the ones that bounced back were killed by frost before they could mature seed.) It would have been a bummer if I weren't subsisting on what I grow, but since I am, it was pretty devastating. I couldn't even stand to look at the garden for a good couple of weeks at least.



If you have room, it might be prudent to have one section of garden for the crops you need for yourself, and do whatever work is needed to make sure you get enough of a crop. Have a separate section for landracing, with the understanding that it may or may not produce anything.

Progress with landracing won't do much good if you can't sustain yourself at the same time!
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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I'm looking at landracing breadseed poppies. Has anyone ever tried that? And if so, any tips?
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I'm looking at landracing breadseed poppies. Has anyone ever tried that? And if so, any tips?



Ellendra, I want to do that too! Was wondering about landracing the white seeded ones specifically - not sure if there's enough diversity out there with those though to start out with. I think I can get my hands on at least 3 varieties of white seeded. Hmmmmm...... Would love to hear how you make out.
 
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One thing I could suggest is to try throwing some experimental direct seeds into a bed that has other crops growing. That way you are not sacrificing garden space.

I did this with squash this year, I had planted corn and beans and knew I wanted to plant squash with them  but didn't have time until fairly late for winter squash. I stuck a bunch of seeds in the ground and let them do their thing. In a 40x75-80 ft area I probably got 15 squash and half were spaghetti. But i also  got around 50 lbs of corn, a whole summer's worth of green beans and a few lbs of dried beans (I started them too early and they were not in good spirits by the time I actually planted them out).

Corn was the main goal for that area and it exceeded my hopes, so all the rest is bonus plus I got some seeds that are one gen more adapted to my space and style.

Some variation of this might work for other folks too
 
Mark Reed
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Breadseed poppies came pre-landraced to me as a gift. First year I planted them and saved tons of seeds. Went to plant early the next spring and volunteers were already up all over the place. They are so prolific that I have banned them from the gardens proper and added them to the more wild areas at the edges of the yard.

I have a couple other flowers, Dame's Rocket and wild Asters that I've established in big patches all around the place. In them both have a range of color with white being the least common. To Increase the white I just tag any nice white ones and make sure they are brought up and scattered closer to the house. The Asters have a flower form I don't like, I tag them too and after flowering remove them so they don't drop seed.

I notice when I collect poppy seed there are lighter and darker ones. I suppose once you have a patch established you could just apply a similar technique and cull out the dark ones. In the ones I have the lighter seeds are far less common but if I remember right all the seeds on a particular plant are the same color. I have no clue haw that is inherited but by just culling the dark ones the I think the white would eventually come to be the majority.  
 
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Mark Reed wrote:Breadseed poppies came pre-landraced to me as a gift. First year I planted them and saved tons of seeds. Went to plant early the next spring and volunteers were already up all over the place. They are so prolific that I have banned them from the gardens proper and added them to the more wild areas at the edges of the yard.



I keep hoping to get a patch established that is that prolific. So far, I haven't even gotten one that survived long enough to flower. I thought I was doing something horribly wrong, until my dad complained about all the "thistles" he kept having to pull, from the bed I told him to stay away from :/

(Dad's plant-identification skills are even worse than his listening skills.)

Would you be willing to share seeds from your poppy patch? Maybe if I plant them near a rock pile, they'll be left alone long enough to have a chance.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Mark Reed wrote:For me some things just exceed my capabilities for land race selection. Winter squash and potatoes are two big ones that come to mind. I worried and stressed about those two crops and wasted too much space and effort for too long. Finally for the most part I abandoned them completely. Some things just take a much larger area than I can afford to accommodate the required population for landrace development.



Funny you should mention the two things I'm starting work on this year. I've been stressing over the logistics of it. At least, stressing over the potatoes. Even though I prefer to use soil blocks for the few things that I transplant, the amount of effort to make soil block mix and create all the blocks with my limited resources was untenable. Had an Amazon gift card, so I decided to use it to buy a 10 pack of 72-cell trays and call that good enough for now. I'd been racking my brain to decide how many to plant (I think I ended up with 3200 seeds, when I was only expecting 2500... which, to be fair, was already obscene.) A 10 pack of trays took the guess work out. I'm planting whatever germinates out of 720 seeds, and the rest will go into storage for the following years.

Granted, my plan for where and how to plant them is still a bit up in the air. My initial plan was pretty labor intensive. I'm pretty sure that at this point I'm basically just going to chuck them in the ground wherever they fit and leave them to their own devices. I mean, that's what my plan was for the resulting tubers, since I ultimately want to breed varieties that will function reliably as sloppy harvest perennials... I was just planning to put a little more care into getting my initial crop.

Squash I'm not as worried about. I have one variety that I bought in, and then two locally grown squash that I picked up at the supermarket and saved seed from with the knowledge that the grower already has them growing together with a bunch of other varieties. It's like an instant landrace! This was an especially good year for it, too, since the weird weather we had wiped out most of the commercial squash crop. We usually have a dozen or more varieties to pick from in the fall, and this year there were two. That means those are the two that can survive when we have extreme weather patterns. Score!

Also, my plan with the squash was always way lazier than my plan with the potatoes, since the genetic material for the squash isn't nearly as rare and precious at my potato seeds are. I'm literally just going to put a seed in the ground, take one big step, and put another seed in the ground, and so on until I plant all the seeds I intend to plant this year. Whatever sprouts and lives long enough to produce is the winner will make it to the next generation. It'll probably be in the neighborhood of 300 squash or so, if I plant about half of the seeds I've currently got.

My plan for potatoes was only more involved because I'm starting with Peruvian seed and really want everything to have the best chance to set tubers. But once I have tubers, I was planning to just leave one in each planting spot and see what survived the cold, wet, pests, and diseases long enough to come back up in the spring. Once I make it through the first season, it's pretty hands off. Just wait for anything that isn't suitable to die off.

I had guys on the Cultivariable Facebook group that acted like that plan was absolutely insane. But if 99.9% of what I leave it the ground fails to produce anything the following spring, that's a lot of selection that nature has done for me. I can dial in culinary qualities after I have genetics that perform consistently under my growing regime. And any that I'm especially fond of, I'll save tubers to replant in the spring in case my fall sown tubers fail. That way I'm selecting for flavor and perenniality at the same time, even if it's from different plants. Then I'll have a baseline population that meets one of my needs or the other, and I can start saving seeds from the crosses between them.

The ploidy of potatoes means that it'll certainly be tricky to get all of the qualities I want in individual plants. But once I have it narrowed down to parents that already have those traits, it's just a matter of sticking seedlings in the ground (or maybe just letting them self-seed) until I win the genetic lottery. Which may or may not happen in my lifetime, but still...
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
Would you be willing to share seeds from your poppy patch? Maybe if I plant them near a rock pile, they'll be left alone long enough to have a chance.



I'll drop some in when I send your tomatoes. They are very small, will about 50,000 do? That's funny that your dad pulled them out , I nearly did the same thing.
 
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Got my packet of Joseph's tepary beans for the holiday today (and found Lauren's video on them while looking for more info.)

It looks like they'd like something to climb? I wasn't sure if teparies were more climbing or more of a bush type bean.

I'm not sure if it's actually going to be hot enough here for them to produce, but we'll see.
 
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I'd call the teparies a half runner. They look like a bush bean but when I pulled them I found a lot of vining activity. I've never had them climb.

The key for me seems to be water. The plants did amazing dry gardened under wood chip mulch but never set a single seed. Blossoms didn't start to show up until late in the season, so I think that was when the soil under the woodchips was dry enough for them.
 
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Lauren Ritz wrote:I'd call the teparies a half runner. They look like a bush bean but when I pulled them I found a lot of vining activity. I've never had them climb.

The key for me seems to be water. The plants did amazing dry gardened under wood chip mulch but never set a single seed. Blossoms didn't start to show up until late in the season, so I think that was when the soil under the woodchips was dry enough for them.



Sweet. We have 3-4 months of drought like clockwork, and I don't water, which is why I was interested in teparies to begin with. Just wasn't sure how they'd tolerate our cool nights.

And I just saw an extension article where one of the horticulture professors claimed to grow them here. Gonna see if I can pick his brain about when he plants them since I have a feeling that they'll succumb to the cold and wet if I plant them too far ahead of the dry season.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Mathew Trotter wrote:And I just saw an extension article where one of the horticulture professors claimed to grow them here. Gonna see if I can pick his brain about when he plants them since I have a feeling that they'll succumb to the cold and wet if I plant them too far ahead of the dry season.



In their natural habitat (so to speak) they're planted with the summer monsoons. If I remember correctly Joseph plants them in July.
 
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This forum is so big it's hard to know where to put some posts but since this is a new landrace I'm putting this one here. After reading Mathew Trotter's topic Total Calories I've decided my new crop for next year is AMARANTH!

I've heard that amaranth is a weed and some even advise not to get it started or you will never get rid of it but I kind of like that in a food crop. Besides when the woman here planted the variety Love Lies Bleeding a few years back it wasn't really all that hard to eradicate, I didn't know then it was a nutritious food  or I probably would have left it around. I've been reading about it and also came across this interesting video from Tennessee State University. TSU Amaranth

Suzanne Ashworth in "Seed to Seed" says it's botanical classification is all messed up but I don't generally care much about such things anyway so I just want to get some and let it do what it will. I do suspect that it might try to take over the gardens themselves but I have lots of areas out in the weeds, in the edges of the woods and along the road where I can just turn it loose, providing it will adapt t that. If indeed it does adapt and goes generally wild in the neighborhood I'm OK with that, I and the critters will just have something new to eat that we don't have to work very hard to get.

So now I just need to track down some seeds. I'll check all the usual places of course but also thinking here Vitacost Organic Amaranth or here Bob's Red Mill Amaranth might be good. I don't knw for sure if these have been cooked or anything but I think maybe not so that would be an easy way to get the large quantities I need to "wild" in places maybe not ideal for it. Then I can also mix in any other I can find from the seed companies. Also I know the ones purchased in bulk as food probably the ones most adapted to making grain.

If it really is as prolific as it is reported to be I should fairly easily be able to get it started on the path to becoming established as a semi or even completely wild crop where all I have to do is harvest. Well, I suspect I might also have ot compete with the birds but I'll figure that out, plus I suspect they might help spread it. If it's good to eat and grows easily I don't really care if it's invasive or native.

 
I don't like that guy. The tiny ad agrees with me.
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