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Permaculture Fruit Seed Idea

 
D. Logan
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I've been thinking about orchard fruit a lot lately for a number of reasons and looking at prices for some of the less common trees among different fruits. Invariably, the rare old varieties are costly to purchase. I am all for growing trees from seeds, but there is one noticeable issue with that. If all the seeds I get are from modern fruit grown in monocultures, there is a limited genetic wellspring for the first generation or two.

Before growing out seeds, I would want known cultivars of many old varieties intermingling. The only way I had for doing that was to pay for those expensive trees outright at first and then rely on the cross pollination that would happen after planting. So many amazing varieties mingling makes me suspect the standard number of 'spitters', common with apples for example, wouldn't happen. Instead there would be a broader variety of usable trees growing from seed. Some good for only one thing perhaps, but that is still all good in my book.

And then a conversation a few days ago got me thinking a little deeper. There are already probably at least a dozen people on permies, if not more, who own orchards where a dozen or more unique varieties are already mingling. As a sideline business, I would love to see at least one of these people taking the seeds they have after processing their apples and mixing five or six unique sets into a grab-bag seed pack. I'd happily pay money for a few packets of such unique fruit varieties.

I can just imagine what you might get when a Keifer pear and a Bosc are crossbred. What about a Strawberry apple and a Cortland? A Bing and a Skeena cherry? I think such seeds would be so much more interesting than anything grown from the ones found in supermarket fruit. I could even see growing the market beyond the permaculture world once there are some examples of success from those who bought the seeds having all new and amazing varieties of their own.

I don't really expect it is big enough to be the only source of income, but it is probably a low effort way to add a little more to the income stream. If it took off, it might even be a reasonable bit of funding for very little effort.

The real question is: Is there anyone who already has a broad range of antique fruit trees mingling genetics already? If so, are they interested in this idea? I don't really know, but I hope there is. If you are interested in the idea as well, speak up! Let some enterprising permie see that there is a market for the idea to take off with.
 
David Dodge
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I'd love to get a bunch of Apple seeds in the ground. Trying with supermarket seeds so far but not holding out much hope. Sign me up for a bag if someone decides to package them. Mixed fruit, too.
 
Ann Torrence
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Let's think this through using my orchards with about 40 varieties so far. Totally random pollination. In pressing apples for cider, there will be loads of seeds of course. Say I do 3 pressing runs, early, mid and late season, with different sub-sets of apples and probably some overlap. The output is totally mixed up in the pomace, so no known parentage of any individual seed. Is that what you want? The Stray Arrow Ranch summer apple mixed bag of seeds, from Pink Pearl, Pristine, Duchess of Oldenburg, etc. but not Dabinett or Newton Pippin because these are harvested later? Kind of like a wildflower seed mix? Would it be bothersome that a large percentage of my orchard genetics are selected FOR tannins and acidity?

We'd have to make it worth the effort to clean the seeds out. I want to feed the spent pomace to finish meat animals, so separating seed has to be done fast and easy because I'm kind of busy pressing the next bin of fruit and the spent pomace has to move along quickly. Any thoughts on how to do that, and what the next processing steps for the seed would be?
 
Bill Bradbury
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I don't know if my northern varieties are good for you, but shoot me a PM and I will send you seeds from my 100 year old apple orchard.
 
D. Logan
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Ann Torrence wrote:Let's think this through using my orchards with about 40 varieties so far. Totally random pollination. In pressing apples for cider, there will be loads of seeds of course. Say I do 3 pressing runs, early, mid and late season, with different sub-sets of apples and probably some overlap. The output is totally mixed up in the pomace, so no known parentage of any individual seed. Is that what you want?


It is actually exactly what I was thinking. Apples especially don't tend to breed true to type anyway, so having a mixed bag of genetics means we get to discover our own new varieties from those that had traits of very well received parents.

Ann Torrence wrote:The Stray Arrow Ranch summer apple mixed bag of seeds, from Pink Pearl, Pristine, Duchess of Oldenburg, etc. but not Dabinett or Newton Pippin because these are harvested later? Kind of like a wildflower seed mix?


Yes regarding the mix aspect, see above. I would love to see all sorts of varieties. If it isn't economical for someone to offer later varieties, I wouldn't expect them to. Those processed into cider would probably be the easiest to collect from. Eating varieties would probably only be collected reasonably if the person doing so already cores them to process into something else like apple sauce.

Ann Torrence wrote:Would it be bothersome that a large percentage of my orchard genetics are selected FOR tannins and acidity?


This one is tricky. If you don't tell people in advance, it might be frustrating for someone who ends up with a huge percentage of this sort. That said, if the seeds sold are being called cider apple mix, or something like that, then I think it should be clear that a large number won't be for out of hand eating most likely. Besides, cider is awesome!

Ann Torrence wrote:We'd have to make it worth the effort to clean the seeds out. I want to feed the spent pomace to finish meat animals, so separating seed has to be done fast and easy because I'm kind of busy pressing the next bin of fruit and the spent pomace has to move along quickly. Any thoughts on how to do that, and what the next processing steps for the seed would be?


Yeah, I have been thinking about that too. Labor intensity is important when there are a lot of things to divide your attention on. The fact that you want to keep your pulp for animals also means that washing it away isn't an option. Without having any practical experimentation outside of working in a kitchen, I could imagine quickly running the pulp over a wide holed screen. That should push the pulp and seeds through and leave the skins. Then quickly rubbing it across a fine mesh screen so all the pulp pushes through into a bucket or troth and leaves the seeds on the tray. All of the pulp and skins could be given to the animals and only the seeds and a tiny bit of pulp clinging would be lost from the mix. Heck, any seeds not sold could then be given to the animals out of season. Small amounts of apple seed (or bitter almond as I recall) have been shown to have an affect on the prevention of cancer. Health bonus to spread it out a little possibly. Again though, this idea is based on pressing pulp in a kitchen setting. On a larger scale, it would probably take a little engineering to get a good solid mesh screen system that won't tear or break down on you and that can be worked with quickly.
 
Denis Huel
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Ann Torrence wrote:Let's think this through using my orchards with about 40 varieties so far. Totally random pollination. In pressing apples for cider, there will be loads of seeds of course. Say I do 3 pressing runs, early, mid and late season, with different sub-sets of apples and probably some overlap. The output is totally mixed up in the pomace, so no known parentage of any individual seed. Is that what you want? The Stray Arrow Ranch summer apple mixed bag of seeds, from Pink Pearl, Pristine, Duchess of Oldenburg, etc. but not Dabinett or Newton Pippin because these are harvested later? Kind of like a wildflower seed mix? Would it be bothersome that a large percentage of my orchard genetics are selected FOR tannins and acidity?

We'd have to make it worth the effort to clean the seeds out. I want to feed the spent pomace to finish meat animals, so separating seed has to be done fast and easy because I'm kind of busy pressing the next bin of fruit and the spent pomace has to move along quickly. Any thoughts on how to do that, and what the next processing steps for the seed would be?


Should be easy to separate seed from bits of fruit and core in the pomace by flotation. Add a quantity of pomace to a pail, no more that 1/3 full. Fill with water and swirl around. Sound seed should sink to the bottom while the other material floats briefly in the moving water. Carefully pour off most of the water and fruit bits. Repeat several times to get a relatively clean sample of seeds which can be dried for storage.
 
leila hamaya
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i like these ideas.

i am interested in growing fruit from seeds and i think the blending of diverse genetics is the way to go, not sticking with "pure" named cultivars, in general...contrary to many peoples preferences. just about anything you plant from seed, even if in isolation and "pure" seed, is technically a new variety, you could call it whatever you want.

i may be repeating myself here, cause i know i posted this before, but i really enjoyed this writing and the ideas he presents:

adaptivar landrace
landrace fruit and nut trees

this writing articulated some major points and things i was already thinking about, so you gotta like it when someone articulates something you already agree with.
what you are writing reminded me of this, i think you might enjoy exploring that. also this idea seems so contrary to what most everyone else is saying, i appreciate the well articulated ideas behind this, instead of people just looking at this kind of thing as not being as good, or somehow less valuable, he makes some right on target points about it being even BETTER.

though it is a bit different because he is talking about acclimating something to a specific place, but similar ideas, especially about "promiscuous pollination" and "survival of the fittest".
though the real key is to start with a huge amount of diverse genetics and varieties, and instead of selecting based on preferences, the plants self select through being culled out when they dont thrive with some amount of neglect. start off with hundreds of seeds maybe, then whittle it down to just a dozen or so plants/trees that are survivors. there is though a lot of "failure" or what we could call failure, in this method, for it to work well i think you would have to be in that experimental mindset, not attached to every single tree or plant, because the survival of the fittest is what will give the best results.

anywho i am interested in exploring this myself, and am in my small way, but with fruit and nut trees this is a long period of time to work it out. most of my fruit trees are baby trees right now, and it would be a long time before i can get anything to show for whatever efforts i make, but that is the way it goes. to get through several generations of fruit trees is like a lifetime project. i think we should take that to mean we need to start now! (or well ten years ago, but now is the best we can do!)

but in general i like this way of thinking, and how it is the opposite of what many people think is the way to go with pure genetics and all that. i do this to a degree in my own gardens, with just letting the plants self seed and mix genetics, i have accidentally created some crosses with brassicas and such just by growing several varieties and letting them self seed for several years, this does create some tough plants, especially when you dont baby them.

and i am growing out a lot of fruit seeds from wherever i can get them...so in some many years from now i will get to see some results!

anywho if you are interested, there are three mature cherry trees on the small farm where i am living.... i have extra seeds to share.
theres a "royal ann" cherry (nice gold and red cherry-heirloom) a black tartarian cherry, and a wild black cherry tree (my favorite, though the cherries are small, its an excellent flavor and very hardy tree). i am not sure how much "promiscuous pollination" is happening, or if the black cherry being a different subspecies can even cross with the other two, but i do have a lot of seeds from each of these trees that i have already started in pots to get cold stratified. with only a few varieties its not exactly enough to get a lot of diversity, but if you can collect more varieties you could start to test it out. anywho i would be willing to send some seeds for a SASE, basically if you prepay the postage costs, i could send you a lot from each. if interested send me a PM.

cherries, like apples, might not be one of the better fruits to start off with, cause i gather that cherries can be a bit tricky. most stone fruit are true to type, or very close to type, but cherries are the exception, from my reading. but if you are in this experimental mindset, i think its cool to keep trying out different stuff. theres already a few dozen young trees that have come from each of these trees, and i planted hundreds of seeds already of just those cherries. but none have gotten old enough to produce fruit yet and see how it is. theres a few that are getting pretty close though, being four years old, so slowly we will get to see how that worked out. just having thrived here in this locale to the point of making abundant excellent fruit is a good enough test for me to try out the next generation to see what comes of it.
 
leila hamaya
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also - raises hand if anyone is offering to send out some tree seeds from their promiscuously pollinated fruit and nut trees!
no names or known cultivar required, in fact the more cross pollination among good varities the better. just that something has thrived and made abundant fruit for you....thats enough of a test for me to try it out, i understand theres no guarantees.....

unfortunately cold hard cash is in too short supply in my world, but i have a large variety of seeds for trading, and would happily post a SASE for postage cost, if anyone has some seeds like this to spare.
 
Peter Ellis
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Centrifugal sorting would probably work pretty well. Not necessarily an apparatus one just happens to have.
Mark Shephard has a simple view on planting apples from seed. Just do it. If you like the result great. If you dont, cull it.
Seems like a way to keep the smoker supplied too.
 
Wyatt Brush
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Here is another thing to think about. If you baby all of your tree seedling, until they produce fruit, you might find some of them are somewhat weak and sickly, but produce fantastic fruit. You might also find some that are strong and hardy, but have lousy fruit. The logical thing to do in that case, I think, would be to propagate both. Use the hardy plants for root stock, and and the good fruit plant(s) for the scission(s).
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Bill Bradbury wrote:I don't know if my northern varieties are good for you, but shoot me a PM and I will send you seeds from my 100 year old apple orchard.


Bill, I would happily pay you for a bunch of your seeds. It would need to be a good number though. Problems with germination and hardiness need to be factored in.

I can get locally grown apples of course, but there are only a small number of varieties and they tend to be standard ones. The really old trees that are on the old farmsteads are not easy to find. They tend to be used by the families and are not given away at all. I've been kicking myself for not collecting seed from the last place we lived. There were three big old trees that had nice apples and produced a good amount every year. Stupid of me not to take a bunch before leaving.

I would happily pay for seeds from different people. Especially old varieties from really cold areas.
 
elle sagenev
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You'd have to wait about 2 years for me but I've bought, oh, over 100 trees and very few of them are of the same type. I'll have a TON of cross pollination happening when these trees fruit. I bought the trees larger so I'm doing the 2 years before allowing them to fruit thing.
 
Fred Tyler
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If you are a bona fide plant propagator (whatever that means) you can get an unspecified amount of open pollinated seed from the USDA's Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva NY. They have over 2500 varieties there, so that should make for some different genetics. I spoke with the apple curator Dr. C.Thomas Chao on the phone. He said that if you email him with a request they would collect the seed in the fall and send it to you free of charge. You would need to specify which variety to collect from the Malus Catalog. Instructions and contact info are found in the catalog.
 
elle sagenev
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Fred Tyler wrote:If you are a bona fide plant propagator (whatever that means) you can get an unspecified amount of open pollinated seed from the USDA's Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva NY. They have over 2500 varieties there, so that should make for some different genetics. I spoke with the apple curator Dr. C.Thomas Chao on the phone. He said that if you email him with a request they would collect the seed in the fall and send it to you free of charge. You would need to specify which variety to collect from the Malus Catalog. Instructions and contact info are found in the catalog.


That was written in a foreign language.
 
leila hamaya
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yes i have done this, requested plants and seed from the usda.
it is a bit tricky to figure out, and it takes some knowledge of proper classification and botanical names. also they are really against "backyard" gardeners requesting stuff from them, so they might say no if they think thats what you are. i suppose you must word your request so they dont think thats what you are doing, their stuff is available for research, education, and for public projects, not homescale gardens.
set up a small research project, and word it correctly and they might hook you up. gather some kids and do some starting trees from seed experiments/education, or some such.....

i am part of a little group that has been taking care of a public old abandoned orchard gone feral that is now national forest, so we requested some plants from them, as its a nexus of wildlife and humans in an environment with very little management. i only requested a few things for that place (man i couldve requested everything they have =)) and the only thing which survived my STUN methods with them (that was the point of my "research" because it is not managed land) was the awesome elderberry they sent me.

anywho heres some links to check out, it definitely takes a while to get to the things you are looking for....they have places on the west coast and east coast too, theres a few of them located all over the country.

http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/orders.html

http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/searchgrin.html

http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/holdings.html

once you search and find what you are looking for, you fill out this order form:

http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/order.html
 
leila hamaya
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at the risk of getting too off topic, i will post up some of my favorites from going over their stuff...that i still have bookmarked. and a few i just looked up for you all....
apologies if we are straying too far into irrelevant, but this is very cool thing our government does (not like you can say that everyday!), even with whatever restrictions...i personally would love to see more permaculture minded folks be able to access some of these interesting and hard to find plants/trees....and keep spreading them and maintaining them...

malus (apples):
malus/apples

prunus (plum/peach/cherry):
prunus

sambucus (elderberry):
elderberry

currants, black and red:
http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1451013

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1482924

butternut

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1641022

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1000272

and hazelnuts:

wild vodka man =) hazelnut
http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1640911

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1452394

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1452283

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1585885
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Would you go with seeds or try to root budwood?
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