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my plan to breed a perennial brassica

 
Posts: 45
Location: Northern Ca
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I would love to see some photos of how things are progressing Gilbert. A local seed saver has bred a mix of lacinato kale and purple tree collards that has grown perennially for us three years running now. It sets an enormous amount of seed each spring then comes back strong later in the summer through the following spring. I'm uncertain of the cold hardiness... it does just fine for us through the winter but we've only been down to 25° F the last few years. This last year our purple tree collards went to seed for the first time in over five years. They went to seed at the same time as the "Dinosaur Tree Collards" (they above mentioned hybrid) were flowering. We saved the seed of the tree collards and the dinosaur collards.  

We are now selling the seed from our purple tree collards and rooted cuttings of the dinosaur tree collards on our website. projecttreecollard.org

Attached are some photos of the dinosaur tree collard plant... I hope to take some better ones of it in the near future. We shoved the original plant into a corner of the garden when we first got it not thinking too much of it because it was flowering and looked rather pathetic. Now it's gotten much larger but we haven't staked it, so it's flopping all over the place. We have started new ones in the garden and will do a better job training them for some decent photos to show their potential. Note that all the leaves and shoots in the second photo are from one single plant- there are many other shoots that didn't make it into the frame.

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Posts: 106
Location: Northeast of Seattle, zone 8: temperate with rainy winters and dry summers.
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Those are marvelous offerings, Luke. I'm glad you are working on this!

Have you ever considered trying to breed a line of purple tree collards that comes true to seed?
 
pollinator
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Location: Denver, CO
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Here is my perennial brassica patch this year. Ignore the dead stalk; that is a lamb's quarters plant going to seed to repopulate the garden. The seem to grow well here. There has been a small amount of reseeding. Every year I cut the plants back and pile some mulch over them. They shot back up in the spring. They are shorter this year because there are more stalks per plant. Most of these plants are descended from Burra's plants. I also have ones from England and Norway, and let some Kale Coalition plants from the PNW go to seed in the patch to hopefully cross. I've not done any hand crosses or seed collection; I'm pretty happy with them as is. They do tend to get loaded with snow in a late snow storm and break just like the trees do. The ones from England get aphids worse then Burra's ones from Portugal. I may eliminate most of these once the next generation starts sprouting up.
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Jason Padvorac
Posts: 106
Location: Northeast of Seattle, zone 8: temperate with rainy winters and dry summers.
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How cold do your winters get, Gilbert?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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We are in zone 5, technically, but the coldest I've seen in the past 5 years is -3 F. We could get to -20F.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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The plants are sprouting out of the mulch again. Stems that fell over two years ago in a storm produced upright shoots along the stems, which fell over last year, which are now sending up sprouts! "Walking" kale indeed!

So I think it is safe to say that I didn't need a breeding project, just a selection project. Though as 2nd generations plants eventually appear, it will be interesting to see what they produce. The deep mulching to protect the original plants works against new seedlings, though. As I was working the mulch away from the plants this spring, I did find some seedpods still full of seeds, which I sprinkled on a garden bed in an area with other self seeding plants.
 
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Whoa! Great feedback about needing selection vs breeding. Thanks for posting this!
 
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal
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It makes me smile to see photos of my 'babies' growing so far away!

I've let my patch run a little wild.  Most of them flowered last year, but not all.  They generally die after flowering, but I just left them to do what they wanted to.  Of those that survived, most, but not all, are flowering this year.  I think I'm going to let them do their thing this year too.  Then save seed off any that flower next year.  I don't want to breed out flowering ability completely, but sometimes it's a pain to have to remove all the flowers to keep the plants alive so if I start to select for plants that can keep going with no care whatsoever for a few years it might be a good thing to have some seed available from those plants.  Most of mine have a good dash of purple in them too, just because I love purple plants.  

Those sprouts coming out of the stalks - the locals call them 'netas', which means 'granddaughters'.  You can snap them off and plant them as cuttings.  Here's a link to where I talk about this a little more, with photos - perennial galega with netas
 
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M.K. Dorje Jr. wrote:

I also grow Purple-Sprouting Broccoli as a perennial. I just pinch off the flowers and bend the stems over so the plants can re-root along the stem. These guys can go for years like this without much care. Some of new ones survived the recent deep freeze without problems- these guys are tough! Plant them in a spot where they'll get afternoon shade in the summer and they'll do fine.



That's really cool! I would like to try perennial broccoli! Does it flower every year? My mini cabbages (an F1 hybrid I bought from a conventional seed catalogue) perennialized where I live. We rarely get temperatures below 5C (Auckland, NZ). I'll have to try to post a photo of them. If I cut off a cabbage they produce branches and re-root. Sounds similar to your broccoli. This is their 3rd summer and most of them have 7-5 heads now and multiple rooting points. They produce extremely small cabbages (partially due to my shady garden, partially due to the breed) the size of a fist (means I can put one or two in the dinner and don't need to store cut open cabbage in the fridge!). All of them have flowered once last spring. I'm wondering if they will flower again this spring or if they will flower biennially like normal cabbage.
I have to say it is extremely handy not having to plant every cabbage my garden produces!
I planted some larger purple cabbages, to see if they will also perennialize in this climate. I can't quite remember how I got the first plants to do it. I think I just left a lot of leaf and stem after I harvested and nature did the rest.
I've been looking for cases of this on the internet and this is the first time I have seen someone else with a brassica behaving this way!

 
Megan Styles
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Luke Perkins wrote:

We are now selling the seed from our purple tree collards and rooted cuttings of the dinosaur tree collards on our website. projecttreecollard.org




Thanks Luke! I bought some of your seed last year (year before? Can't remember), and now have some mighty purple and mericollard trees in a shady spot in my garden! The purple are taller than me and have many stems. The mericollard are keeping one stem or sprouting off the trunk or base. One mericollard flowered in the first year then fell over, but there is a new sprout from it's base, and a lot of seedlings, a few of which I replanted to where I wanted.
I found that the stems of the mericollard were tasty and sweet enough to snack on raw in the garden. My chickens love the leaves of both!
This is in Auck, NZ! Seeds got through customs! Yay!
 
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I grow Western Front kale at my home in Pennsylvania. It comes back even after 0 degree Fahrenheit winters and quite a bit of snow. Got lots of seeds from it. As far as I'm concerned it IS perennial.
 
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