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Any tips for finding a seed to start a landrace?

 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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How do you go about finding seeds to naturalize? I'm really trying with corn but I can't seem to find one that grows well in my climate. I've done my research and bought the suggested seeds but even still I'm getting knee high corn with small small cobs.. Any ideas?

I suppose most of you would suggest I just not grow corn. However, it is something everyone likes to eat and my kids will eat it well so I'd like to grow it.
 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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You want to start with as many genetic options as poss. So get seed pretty much at random, plant it all close so it can cross pollinate and plant as much of the resulting seed as you can.
You could start with seeds from your neighbours but then you are limiting genetic input. You could plant two fairly unsuitable strains and find they breed into a great strain, so throw some random mud and see what sticks.
 
Su Ba
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I've had good luck with seed I've bought from Native Seed Search. While they focus primarily on seed from the Southwest, I've found that many of the varieties are doing well in my location. I have a number of their beans, peas, corn, and pumpkin/squash varieties. If you do happen to check them out, be aware that they rotate through their seed bank. So their offering varies a bit from year to year. I've seen something I wanted to try but didn't buy, then it disappeared for 2-3 years, then was offered again. But then somethings never seem to get offered again. So I guess the grower wasn't offering seed anymore or else stopped growing.
 
Scott Strough
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Location: Oklahoma
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I believe Joseph may have a solution for you. Maybe message him privately?
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Man if they went to seed I'd replant but so far I haven't even had any seed of note.
 
Steve Farmer
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I live on an island hundreds of miles from and on a different continent to the mainland. Most goods including packaged seed come by ship and are more suited to the mainland. The islands are subsidised and people eat imported food while the majority of the land is unused and the rain runs thru the canyons into the sea.

I identify the reason that something won't grow and persist while changing its environment as much as possible until it grows, then I take seeds. What is your climate issue - too hot/cold? not enough rainfall etc? Use a greenhouse/shade cloth or plant indoors or by a pond or in filtered sunlight or add grow lights or whatever and your corn will grow. Do just enough to get it to grow and it has a better chance of ending up hardy. I find it only takes a few breeding iterations to make something significantly more suited to the local climate than whatever I started off with. For example I have for the first time been able to harvest peas in July this year with temps hitting 40C+ several times during the current crop. That took saving seeds from growing them in the low/mid 30s during the past couple of early summers.

You could start far more corn plants indoors than you want to end up with and select for the best ones. Intensive but if you want a landrace that badly then it's worth the effort?
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Steve Farmer wrote:I live on an island hundreds of miles from and on a different continent to the mainland. Most goods including packaged seed come by ship and are more suited to the mainland. The islands are subsidised and people eat imported food while the majority of the land is unused and the rain runs thru the canyons into the sea.

I identify the reason that something won't grow and persist while changing its environment as much as possible until it grows, then I take seeds. What is your climate issue - too hot/cold? not enough rainfall etc? Use a greenhouse/shade cloth or plant indoors or by a pond or in filtered sunlight or add grow lights or whatever and your corn will grow. Do just enough to get it to grow and it has a better chance of ending up hardy. I find it only takes a few breeding iterations to make something significantly more suited to the local climate than whatever I started off with. For example I have for the first time been able to harvest peas in July this year with temps hitting 40C+ several times during the current crop. That took saving seeds from growing them in the low/mid 30s during the past couple of early summers.

You could start far more corn plants indoors than you want to end up with and select for the best ones. Intensive but if you want a landrace that badly then it's worth the effort?


I'm honestly not quite sure what the issue is. I know there is bio-fuel corn grown here but I've never been successful with eating corn. It stays about knee height. This year I even did a hugel just for corn, that I water (I'm terrible at watering usually) and it's still just knee height.
 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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What are the temps when they stall at knee height? Have you run out of warmth/sunlight at the end of a short growing season?

Maybe you can start them earlier in a sheltered spot against a south facing wall, or indoors?

Enhance your soil nutrient level so they get higher quicker while the conditions are good. Look for an early/dwarf variety to beat a short season.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My best seed comes from local farm stands and the farmer's market. Sweet corn is already viable by the time it's picked for eating. Even if the person manning the booth doesn't share a variety name, if they've grown it locally then it usually grows great for me.

Another great resource for me has been a couple of mom/pop nurseries. They carry bulk seed that they have tested and that does really well in our valley.

On many warm weather crops, I am right on the cusp between being able to grow them and failing... I'm not planting citrus. I can only push ecological limits so far. I wouldn't be able to grow much if I lived in the next valley to the east that is higher elevation.

Corn loves: nitrogen, water, warmth... Hugel and corn seem incompatible to me. Seems like the wood would out-compete the corn roots for nutrients.

It's hard to grow a crop that is wind pollinated if the wind blows the pollen out of the garden.


 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
My best seed comes from local farm stands and the farmer's market. Sweet corn is already viable by the time it's picked for eating.


You just blew my mind. Just dry and plant later, I presume?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Chip: Yup, dry and plant later.

Viability of Seeds edited by E.H. Roberts reports on a study by Walker in 1933 that found with Golden Bantam sweet corn that at 15 days after silking about 23% of kernels emerged in the field, and that at 21 days 86% emerged.

In my garden, the fresh eating stage is about 25 days after silking. I first became aware of this when I watched a video of commercial sweet corn being harvested for selling as seed. It was much more immature than what I would harvest for fresh eating at my table.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Apparently I just needed to wait for the magic to happen. My corn grew incredibly fast it seems overnight and now I have seed!
painted mountain corn.jpg
[Thumbnail for painted mountain corn.jpg]
 
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