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Fruit Trees from Seed

 
Amit Enventres
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There's a lot of myth out there on what will grow true from seed, what won't and how to do it. You tube has a plethora of people taking seeds, putting them in planting medium, and saying "see! Easy!" But, what about the final product? Production! Veggies it's easy to get OP (open pollinated) or heirloom. And, they are done in a year, so failure is no biggy. Fruit trees are YEARS of investment, and then?? I bought some grafties because I wanted to produce food like 30 years ago, but couldn't, but now I want to fill in the gaps with true-to-seeds. What I mean is: you plant and the flavor is similar to, though does not need to be exactly the same as, it's parent. That means, a Juice/pie only apple/orange should not come from a fresh (crunch num num num) apple tree.

I am wondering with all our knowledge here (if this has not already been done) we could create a list of fruit you should be able to buy at the grocery store and grow true to seed by planting them 90+% of the time.

To start, from what I hear these things will grow true to seed:
-kumquats
-lemons
-citron
-sour orange
-tangerine
-dragon fruit (though maybe color will vary)
-date
-star fruit

The trick with citrus seed is to put them directly from the moist fruit into the moist, warm, soil. They don't like drying out.

I would also think:
-pomegranate
-olive
Though good luck finding fresh olives in a store!

I've heard rumors about the following not growing, not producing, not tasting good, etc. from grocery produce. I think this is a recent phenomenon too. I remember them growing like crazy when I was a kid.

apples- 20% spitter rate, 40% pie rate (I think this was Paul's numbers)
peaches, pears, nectarines, plums. You can get heirloom varieties, but probably not at the grocery store.

I have a feeling cherry might be okay, but I'm not sure.

I think most nut trees will grow true...but again, not sure.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Fruit trees from seed is a tricky proposition simply because things like Apple trees fruit best when a different cultivar is the pollinator.
Which means if you have a Red Delicious it will fruit best when pollen from a different species of Apple tree is used, this makes the seeds not true to species and so texture, taste and even longevity will be affected.

Example: we grow Arkansas Black Apples, but we have two other apple cultivars for the necessary cross pollination, seed grown from our Arkansas Black Apple trees will never produce a true Arkansas Black Apple tree.
The seeds from those harvested AB apples will all be hybrids. Of course we could get super lucky and find out our hybrids are better or close to the same as the original but it isn't very likely to happen.

Citrus trees are different, most self pollinate or same species pollinate and so are true to species (type if you like that term). Grapefruit are a great example as are lemon, lime, orange and kumquat.

So, long story short, if the fruit tree is a known self pollinator and no other species of that genus are close by, you will have "true to type" seeds in the fruits.
Same is true if your orchard trees can pollinate each other
If the tree requires a secondary pollinator, then the seed will never be "true to type".

For those trees that require the secondary pollinator, to get a "true to type" tree from it requires grafting or air layering.

Cherry trees can be pollinated by same species or by different species, depending on the orchard.


Growing fruit trees from seed is indeed a long term investment since it will be a minimum of 7 years from sprouting to first fruiting and more likely 10 years to a decent harvest quantity.
 
David Livingston
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"Growing fruit trees from seed is indeed a long term investment since it will be a minimum of 7 years from sprouting to first fruiting and more likely 10 years to a decent harvest quantity."

Thats why I love grafting
You can cut those times considerably with out risk of wasted effort .
where I live there are lots of wild plums and quince seedlings/rootlings growing all over the place. Plus Quince hard wood cutting are simple too . Also figs are easy peasy to take cuttings from .
Here are some I prepared earlier . Two purple and three green fig trees will be ready to plant out come the autumn . Cost just ten mins of my time .
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[Thumbnail for 006.JPG]
 
Amit Enventres
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Thanks Bryant, but there's more to it than that. Apples need to not pollinate with themselves in order to pollinate, but that doesn't necessarily mean it needs to pollinate with a crabapple - infact, most farmers don't want to grow a large number of crab apples and will instead plant two name-brand varieties. This pollination issue is only really an issue because of grafting. But, plant breeders, in developing new varieties can mix in genetics that might not taste good, but are hardy. Then, graft and patent the one that has both flavor and hardiness. Thus, the parent is already a hybrid and will not produce reliable seedlings. So, just because it's self-pollinating doesn't mean it will have good kids. Also, consider that those fruit might have great fruit stock qualities but poor shoot stock qualities.

David, I know there's a lot of tricks to clone new varieties and duplicate their fruit production via grafting, but that is what I am trying to avoid because I believe it actually puts humanity at a disadvantage: i.e. unless you have the shootstock of the plant you want, you are SOL for growing it and therefore must rely on another for production and, if they are nice enough, they might sell you a root-bound grafting of one for $30. Rather, I am hoping we can work around this patenting (so to speak) issue by growing from seed what we can, potentially stopping this problem of creating a dichotomy of consumers and producers. So, if you don't mind, can we stick to listing off what you know will grow from seed and what you know won't? Sorry, just want to keep this topic on topic. Thanks!

So, what I'm looking for is those of you with experience or solid knowledge on what is currently good true-to-seed and which things we eat genetics are messed up.

Thanks!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Amit,

I did not mention crab apples, I do not use crab apples. I use a Granny Smith and a Fuji for pollination of our Arkansas Black Apple trees.

Most of the time if cross pollination is needed it is because the male portions are positioned (if they are even present) so they can not pollinate the flower pistil.

I graft and always have. By the way, a Graft does not mean Hybrid, Hybrids come from crossing one variety (species) with another. A Graft is putting one stock's branch onto a different variety root stock.
 
Amit Enventres
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I guess I'm not making myself clear.

Bryant- grafting results in a clone. Cloning reduces genetic diversity. Consider the current Florida citrus industry, the potato famine for top examples. Greater genetic diversity equals a more robust food system. Consider agricultural weeds for examples of robust diverse genetics. I understand grafting is easy and brings food faster. I used it to get up and running. I understand that many permies use grafting as a cheap way to proliferate the genetics they want. I understand that since that is the case for me to be here saying "that's not actually the best most sustainable thing and can result in food system disaster" will cause push back, HOWEVER it is the case. Grafting from a variety of trees onto home grown rootstock is better than grafting from a single genetic selection, but it is still limiting the gene pull to the number of selections you choose. Therefore, I think it a GREAT idea if we could discuss what things will actually reliably grow delicious tree produce when planted from seed from the grocery store. As for what is a hybrid and what is not- I know that and am way past it. I didn't expect conflict in starting this, but I guess that is my blind spot.

If you don't know what will grow from seed to reliably produce good food, that's okay- I only have heard of a few and have been studying sustainable agriculture for almost 15 years. If you do, please list it.

There are also fruit seed websites, but I'm not sure the quality of the fruit they will result in. I'd be happy if someone would thumbs up or thumbs down their experience in FRUIT PRODUCTION from the seeds purchased (not whether or not they germinated or arrived on time). That will also give us some insight into what will reliably grow from seed and what will not.

Thank you!
 
R Ranson
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This is a great question. I learned about fruit trees from my Grandfather and from trial and error.

Apples, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, cherries and quince grow best here, so that's where my experience is.

Although I've been known to actually plant tree seeds, I usually just trench them in the garden with my compost. In the late spring or early fall, I transplant any volunteers (these are less than a year old) either to their final resting place or to a big clump of fruit trees, spaced about 6 inches apart for later use. The crowded ones mostly just do nothing but grow a little. They get no love while they are there. The ones in their final spot grow like stink. They produce fruit in 2 to 5 years (so about 3 years old and up) depending on how enthusiastic the tree feels.

I don't graft or bud until the tree has produced fruit. If I don't like what it produces, I'll graft or bud it next time the proper season comes around. It's easy here to get nice fruit tree branches for grafting/budding. I'll ask a friend, or knock on a door of a house with an exceptionally good looking tree. If it's on public land, at the side of the road, I don't feel morally wrong for nipping off a twig if the tree is big enough not to notice it. There are some mighty amazing heritage hidden fruit trees in one of the parks here (not grafted) which I am hoping to talk with the wardens to allow me to harvest a branch (perhaps in return for donating some fruit trees with that graft back to the park).

Sometimes I graft, sometimes not, but I very seldom use the same variety more than three times. For the most part, I'm confident my genetic diversity is strong, so it would take a chainsaw or forest fire to kill off my trees on mass.

Some cherries grow true to type (I've been told). I think some other fruit too, but I don't label or anything. Too much effort and I have too many trees as it is. Not that I'm going to stop making more trees, I just don't know where to put them all.

Most of that is contrary to what my Grandfather taught me and what just about every book says I should do. But tough. It's what works for me and I like doing that way. The results I get are lovely and we have at present over 50 producing fruit trees and far too much fruit. If one kind of fruit has a bad year, another has a bumper crop. However, everything this year seems to be having a bumper crop, so I'm not sure what we are going to do.


Oranges and olives.

I find oranges pretty easy to start from seed (but I've never tried not drying them first, I'll give that a go next time) but haven't managed to get them to fruit yet.

At certain times of the year, the grocery store has olives on branches. This lasts about two weeks, so I often miss it.


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'll go ahead and contribute my opinion, for what it's worth.

I had a lady helping in my garden this week, who said to me that she couldn't discern a difference between garlic, and the rye weeds that were growing in the garlic bed. It made me realize that I really see plants. That I look at a lawn, and I naturally observe dozens of species of grass in it, in addition to all the wildflowers. Other people just see green plants. Then there are differences in aroma and taste!

When I plant sibling groups of plants, I notice the differences between the siblings. They are clearly discernible to me, because I have devoted my life to noticing subtle differences between plants.

For me to say that a crop grows "true to type" it pretty much has to have been inbred for about 6 generations before the differences between plants start to become imperceptible to me. I don't think that any fruit trees have been subjected to 6 generations of single-seed descent plant breeding, so I'll go ahead and offer my opinion that no fruit or nut trees grown from seed are 'true to type', as I have defined the term.

However, offspring tend to resemble their parents and grandparents, so if you start out with great ancestors, you are likely to get great offspring.

 
R Ranson
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That makes a lot of sense Joseph. I never really understood how a fruit tree grows true to type, so it's possible it's something my Grandfather got confused about when teaching me fruit trees.


How can someone get confused between grass and garlic? If they look similar (which they seldom do), just munch on a leaf. Then again, most of my visitors can't tell the difference between a potato and a carrot plant, so I've made it my mission to make certain their children can.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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R Ranson wrote:How can someone get confused between grass and garlic?


I felt really chagrined that I couldn't articulate how they are different.... To me, they look radically different, but I didn't have the vocabulary to explain how...

Eventually I settled on: the rye was growing as a clump of stems, while the garlic plants were single stemmed.

 
Amit Enventres
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Great- R and Joseph!

So, now from another angle: those with good lineage will produce good fruit. What on the market has good lineage? I suppose there will be some country variation, but let's give it a go. For example: Do Braeburns or Red Delicious produce typically yummy or yucky? Do black cherries produce 90% of the time sweet offspring or sour? I know that in ancient times certain cultures had a custom to not mix sweet fruit and sour fruit of the same species, but is that genetic specification more or less null at this point in history? We have about 0 heritage tree species here that I can access or know about. Thanks!
 
Marco Banks
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Pomegranates grow true to the parent plant from seed. They tend to volunteer readily as well, so you can often find one growing next to a fence or in an unused space. Dig it out and replant it in a space you want. I'm forever pulling them up and tossing them on the compost pile.

When you consider how many hundreds of seeds are in a single large pomegranate, you should be able to get an orchard of them from one store-bought pomegranate.

Even after aggressively thinning the fruit this time of year, I've always got way more fruit than we can use and even give away when fall comes around and they get ripe. Our tree is 10 years old and is now almost 20 feet tall. Pomegranates don't want to be a tree -- they want to be a bush, so you've got to constantly be pruning, shaping, tugging them this way and that with rope . . . if you want it to stand straight as a tree. It's worth the effort, as it keeps the fruit up high and makes it harder for the ants to get at -- particularly if you have a single trunk and put sticky-foot around the base. About 3 times a year, you've got to cut all the suckers from the base of the tree. Again, worth the effort to keep a "clean" tree.

If you do the hard work to train it to remain a tree, they are a beautiful tree. The red blossoms in the spring are beautiful against the dark green leaves. In late summer and into the fall, the pomegranate fruits look like Christmas tree bulbs. Deep red -- big as a softball.

Save those pomegranate seeds and pot them up.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Many of my fruit trees were grown from seed. They all have perfectly acceptable fruits on them.

They haven't grown up into cherry/plums, or plum/apricots, or apricot/peaches, or apple/pears. If I plant a peach, I get a peach. If I plant a cherry I get a cherry. If I plant an apple I get an apple. And the children most usually bear a striking resemblance to their mother.

Commercial orchards are planting hundreds of the same type of tree close together. Therefore, they get pollinated by the same type of tree.

From my point of view, any offspring of a Red Delicious apple is likely to be as bland and unappetizing as it's parent!!!
 
Jason Silberschneider
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As a child, I ate most flavours of apples from the store. Then for some reason, certain types were no longer to my liking. Too soft, mushy, sweet. Eventually it got to the stage where the granny smith was the only type I would eat, as it seemed to be the only one left with any real flavour and "kick" to it. The rest were as bland, soft, and sweet as each other.

I have a feeling that nurseries that breed fruit trees are aiming for safe and inoffensive varieties, in much the same way as new houses are all painted in various shades of beige.

I don't want my fruit to be safe, bland, and inoffensive. I want that kick that I experienced as a child. I want my eyes to water from the tartness when I bite into an apple. So now I've started growing apples from the seeds of the sourest of sour granny smiths that we get from the store.

I definitely don't want my seedlings to grow true to type! I want 100 different apple seeds to eventually have 100 wildly different flavoured apples growing on them, each more tart and extreme than the last. Any that may end up too extreme for me will become part of my 20% surplus to be returned to the animals that help me in my orchard. And will eventually grow big enough to become a really interesting serving tray or chair.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I really really love the taste of seed grown apple trees.

Jason Silberschneider wrote:I definitely don't want my seedlings to grow true to type! I want 100 different apple seeds to eventually have 100 wildly different flavoured apples growing on them, each more tart and extreme than the last.


And variations in all other sorts of traits... Some that ripen fruit early in July, and some that ripen fruit as late as October. And some that are resistant to army caterpillars, and some that produce better in wet years, and others that produce better in dry years, and some that flower early, but might get froze from time to time, and some that flower late, and some with bitter skins that resist worms well, and some that are hard and resist hail very well, and some that a shrubby, and some that are weepy, and some that have thorns to resist browsing by deer, and some that thrive in clay, and some that prefer sandy soil, and some that store until spring, and some that have to be eaten immediately, etc, etc, etc, etc...

I believe that last summer I was the only farmer at my farmer's market to take apricots to market. Because my seed grown tree flowers later than other apricots, so it was one of the few trees in the valley that survived the cold snap in early spring that killed a whole valley's worth of productivity.

 
John Wolfram
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Amit Enventres wrote:I've heard rumors about the following not growing, not producing, not tasting good, etc. from grocery produce. I think this is a recent phenomenon too. I remember them growing like crazy when I was a kid.
apples- 20% spitter rate, 40% pie rate (I think this was Paul's numbers)
peaches, pears, nectarines, plums. You can get heirloom varieties, but probably not at the grocery store.

One problem with produce from the grocery store is that the mother tree was likely pollinated with a tree chosen for its pollination abilities rather than the quality of its fruit. For example, I believe the Golden Hornet crab apple is used for pollination among large blocks of known eating cultivar. Since one parent lacks the traits that make a good eating apple the chances of the offspring a significantly decreased. To use an analogy, a couple has a much better chance of producing a child tall enough to play in the NBA if the mother is 6'8" and the father is 7'2" than a couple where the mother is 6'8" and the father is 5'6".
 
Amit Enventres
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This is great! Thank you for your input and collaboration

It sounds like from the discussion, that your usual grocery store suspects can be done. To continue the list:
-peaches,
-apricots,
-nectarines,
-plums,
-apples

It seems most of you use a system where you suspect a certain % (albeit relatively small) will be a dud, and set-up a system, whether compost transplant or re-purposed for wood to handle that %. Of course, with all planting a certain % is expected to be lost, even from the best seed stock. This is encouraging.

Do we have a vote of confidence in pears or oranges?

As for nuts: Black walnuts are a true-to-type and grow wild around America. English I would suspect true-to-type, but I'm not sure about their root health. Most Englishes are grafted to black in CA. I suspect heartnuts, hazels, and chestnuts are also true to type. Anyone know much about almonds? They are related to stone fruit, so if any nut would have confused genetics, it would be almonds.

 
Elizabeth Basden
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I once worked with a woman who had a bounty of oranges from a 10 year old tree. One family picnic, grandpa ate his store-bought orange, scooped some dirt into a styrofoam cup, put the seed in. Ten years later the tree was higher than the garage and produced more oranges than the family could ever eat. She brought baskets of oranges for quite a while. They tasted great. In my experience, it works.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:For me to say that a crop grows "true to type" it pretty much has to have been inbred for about 6 generations before the differences between plants start to become imperceptible to me. I don't think that any fruit trees have been subjected to 6 generations of single-seed descent plant breeding, so I'll go ahead and offer my opinion that no fruit or nut trees grown from seed are 'true to type', as I have defined the term.
Based on my reading, there is at least one fruit that's been bred into an Open Pollinated Variety- the Antonovka Apple.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It seems to me, like there are two definitions of the term "open pollinated". The plain meaning of the words, used by common folk, implies that we don't know who's the daddy, so all bets are off regarding what the offspring will look like. The other meaning, implies that every trick known to humanity is used to prevent the seed from actually being pollinated by an unknown... The phrase bantied around is that the offspring will come "true to type". To me, "true to type" implies that the offspring are near clones of each other. Plants that come "true to type" can only do so if they have been highly inbred. That seems to be the exact opposite of what is implied by the term "open pollinated."

On my farm, I only use the term "Open pollinated" to refer to highly inbred plants that are unlikely to have crossed with anything else... For example, I might use it to describe a variety of tomatoes, or dry beans.

I use the term "Promiscuously Pollinated" to describe any variety in which we truly don't know who's the daddy. So squash, cucumbers, spinach, corn are that way in my garden. Still, there are certain commonalities within my populations. For example, I always keep the sweet corn as sweet corn, so that part of the plant is consistent, but I let other traits vary. For example, there is lots of variation in color, shape, height, size of cobs, etc... So they are true in only one trait. All other traits can vary. How true does an apple have to be to be true to type? Does it require that the plant look, taste, and grow like a clone of it's mother? Or does it only have to be an apple tree? Is somewhat the same good enough to be called true to type?
 
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Do we have a vote of confidence in pears or oranges?


I have read that citrus generally is true to seed; for me the challenge is finding fruit of types that have a prayer of being cold hardy enough to bother testing this... Apparently if you get two seedlings from a single see, one is from pollination and potentially different. Called polyembriony.

Haven't tried oranges as I haven't found fruit from a hardy cultivar... but I've planted a bunch of Meyer lemon seeds this spring. There's a charmingly written guide here: http://www.paticheri.com/2012/09/01/how-to-grow-meyer-lemons-from-seed/


I didn't do anything beyond placing rinsed seeds, fresh out of organic grocery store fruit, into soil; the ones inside on a heat-mat had a nearly 100% germination rate, vs more like 50%(so far, at least) in the greenhouse.
 
Amit Enventres
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Thank you for the awesome discussion!

We have a vote of confidence for oranges! In another forum I found through suggestion and read (I did a search before posting, don't know why I didn't see it before) said pears are iffy. How unfortunate.

Regardless, it seems that in general those here with experience seem to plant a bunch, let them get big enough to taste the fruit, that with the best characteristics in fruit quality, quantity, and tree vigor live, the rest become animal feed, firewood, utensils and furniture. In a small urban plot, I think this could simply be done by placing multiple seeds into pots, labeling with type and date. Once germinated (may take a year for cold stratification, may not), wait until they get some root and then transplant the whole cluster of seedlings to the final destination. Waiting 3 years, when they will likely produce fruit (for some it may be longer, but that's the average). Then, taste test, evaluating the other characteristics of the trees, then thin the undesirable ones. I would think if there are two desirable, they could generally co-exist. Three might be a crowd, but the third might be air-rootable (clone to move) I would assume a dig-up at that close spacing would traumatize every tree. The transplanting will not result in the most robust tree, but it won't be so bad - especially talking home-stead sized yard where I am inclined to do heavy pruning so I get just the right amount of every plant.

Dillon - I think I have an answer for your citrus dilemma. Citrus are great in pots and make wonderful house plants. The pot does not need to be huge. Tropicals do well with small root area, I found. The potted plant is hardened to outside in frost-free times, then brought in at frost times. My lemon did not even exhibit trauma signs on the leaves from this, unlike the basil. When you bring them in at the start of winter they typically bloom, making the whole house smell nauseatingly wonderful. I play bee, but that's fine since I'm in garden withdrawal anyway. This is the end of the second lemon tree winter (clone) and second citron winter (seed) and they are fine. The lemon has 3 small fruits. The citron is in a desert container and subject to experimentation. The hardest part with in-door growing is fertilizing. Most solid organic fertilizers breed gnats, but you have to fertilize it because all the tree nutrition comes from you. I tried used coffee, but not enough Nitrogen. I mixed in milk to neutralize the pH, and occasionally some sugar. I got some fish emulsion, but that stinks. Fertilizing during the summer is simple. so is pest control. Nature takes care of it. Some people plop the tree in the ground during summer and pick it out during winter. I don't like the root trauma that would cause, and don't have the space.

Thank you all for helping me figure out what and how to grow from seed. I hope this is useful to others. We have not covered all the tree species we can eat in existence, though we have covered the majority. Should we resolve or continue this topic?

Joseph - I LOVE promiscuously pollinated. That I think resolves my other dilemma: wanting to grow many different varieties but having limited space and a high chance of cross breeding. Just let them who won't create human-useless things be promiscuous. I could care less if it is a Straight 8 or Market More 76 - it just needs to taste good sliced fresh with cheese dip (feta+creamcheese+drop of milk, mixed), make a good pickle, fit in salads, and grow well in the garden. It's amazing that someone had to even suggest that to be okay! It should have been a no-brainer, but I guess that's not how I was taught to think about these things. Maybe that's because patents can be placed on crosses, but not on an open-pollinated variety. Craziness.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Amit Enventres wrote: I could care less if it is a Straight 8 or Market More 76 - it just needs to taste good sliced fresh with cheese dip (feta+creamcheese+drop of milk, mixed), make a good pickle, fit in salads, and grow well in the garden.


Here's what my cucumber variety looks like...

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Promiscuously pollinating cucumbers
 
eric torral
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I have grown peach trees from seed (i mean pits) and my experience has shown me that the fruit produced by this tree will be the same as the peach from whence it came. I have grown 5 or six peach trees this way. Your mileage from other fruit may vary.
 
Glenn Ingram
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Hazelnuts don't all come out the same at all. Some are amazing and others are okay. Some make big nuts and some are better wildlife food (not worth the effort). There is a guy around here who is planting them from seed and picking the best varieties and getting great results. But you have to be able to plant a lot so you get enough good ones. You can then graft the good ones if you wish.
 
David L. Green
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Some clarifications are needed to fully understand why some fruits come true and others don't. Let's get some basic ideas straight. Self fertility and self incompatibility are not absolutes, but are a scale, with various fruit varieties somewhere on a line between the end points. With apples as our example, they would be more on the self incompatible side. A few varieties are self fertile enough so that you can get some fruit from self fertilization, but will do much better with cross pollination. Notice that I said self fertilization, as there are no apple trees (and no other fruits that I know of) that self pollinate. Bees pollinate apple trees, even ones that are self fertile, so if you see a claim by a nursery that a certain variety is "self pollinating," you have a reason to shop elsewhere with nurseries that know their own business better.

To pollinate is to move the pollen, either from anther to stigma on a self fertile plant, or between flowers in cross pollination. To pollenize is to provide viable pollen for fertilization to occur. In street language, it's the difference between the pimp and the john.

Thus an apple tree might self pollenize, if it is self fertile, but it cannot self pollinate. Nor can an apple tree pollinate another apple tree - bees do that. But an apple tree can pollenize another variety. Apple mates are called pollenizers. In most commercial orchards today, crab apples are the pollenizers of choice, because 1) they produce abundant and fertile pollen, and 2) the pickers cannot get mixed up and put the pollenzer fruit in the bin.

This means that, if you plant seeds from a supermarket, the odds are that you will eventually (seedlings take a long time to fruit) get a cross between the variety you ate, and a crab apple. This is not a very good formula for growing quality apples. If you want to cross two varieties, you might choose an apple fruit that's grown with only two varieties and no other apples in the neighborhood. Or you might hand pollinate to make a deliberate cross, then bag the blossom to make sure of no contamination from other pollens.

If you want to grow fruit from seed, your best bet is to choose fruits that are self fertile and do not need pollenizers. Good examples of these are peaches, sour cherries and most citrus, which are all high on the self fertility scale. There are no absolutes here, only odds.

If you grow seedlings from fruit that is high on the self incompatibility scale, such as apples, sweet cherries, some plum varieties, etc., your chances of getting a fruit that is true to the one you ate become very small. You will (almost 100% odds) get a fruit that is a cross between your fruit and the pollenizer that was present at bloom.

We need to understand that most temperate zone tree fruits are usually grafted, so a block of say, Red Delicious, is for pollination purposes, all the same tree. So planting such a block, without pollenizers would be serious misjudgement. I've seen people do this, however. Then they have a problem, which must be corrected.

Growing fruits from seed is an endeavor for the young who have lots of land, or for a teacher who wishes to illustrate. Seedling trees take much longer to bear fruit than grafted trees, and you lose all the benefits of the rootstock. For me, I am old, and my space is limited, so I will graft my apple trees. I generally get fruit in the second year, as opposed to the 8-10 years that is typical of seedling apples. I also will never fall off a 25-foot ladder while picking. All my apples require no more than one step up to reach.

 
Raven Sutherland
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Joseph......... you have what i have termed
"organic eyes"
or the ability to see subtle differences in plants growth structure
that is invisible to the average person .... for you it's easy
i have it too

reason for the post

if you haven't already done so

read about Luther Burbank who had this ability
one of the most famous plant breeders ever..........
 
Shahtess Thorne
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Loquat trees grow well from seed as well (Perth, Western Australia)
 
Rebecca Norman
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These are apples from a seedling tree. They are juicy, crispy, tasty, and we eat them up as soon as they are ripe. I don't know if they have storage quality or saleability but we love them.

Looking at these picture of apricots from seedling trees, would you say it's worthless to grow seedling fruit?
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Apricot jam picnic - chopping apricots for jam - by Nidhi.jpg
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Apricot jam picnic - boiling jars - by Nidhi.jpg
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John Walsh
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Serviceberry will be mostly true to seed, especially if it is not near other Amelanchier. (And as long as it is not one of the named varieties that happens to be a hybrid).
 
R Ranson
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To me, a lot of the 'right way' to grow a fruit tree is far too complex.

This is what I do.

Plant seed.

Move tree from time to time, so that it ends up in the right spot.

At about year three, it makes fruit (sometimes as late as year 5, but normally before).

If fruit yummy, leave tree alone to make yummy fruit.

If fruit not yummy, graft or bud tree, get yummy fruit next year.

Either way, it takes about the same amount of time as a nursery fruit tree (three to five years) to get a yummy harvest, only far less expensive and a tree that is far more resilient to my conditions.



It doesn't matter to me what the origin of the seed is, as chances are if the fruit tastes yummy, there will be some yummy genetics in there. Since I have a polyculture, I don't need to know much about pollination (although I admit, I love geeking out about that kind of stuff - but practically speaking, all I need to know is that the more variety of each kind of fruit tree I have, the better the chance of getting fruit). I know, I'm pretty scornful of the 'right' way to do this, but even not yummy apples make pretty good cider, so I can afford a casual approach to this. I suppose if I didn't drink cider... well, then I would probably care more. I've tried doing it the right way, and I've tried doing it my way. My way gets yummy apples just as quickly but with less work. But my way might not work for everyone. It's simply a different 'right' way to do things.

3 to 5 years isn't that long when looked at from a farmer's point of view - it takes two to three years for my kale to seed.

Growing fruits from seed is an endeavor for the young who have lots of land


This saddens me. From my point of view, growing fruit trees from seed is for everyone! It's not an endeavour, it's a privilege. My grandfather did this until he was 95. Heck, he kept doing this on the windowsill of the care home where he was living until the week he died. I use to do this in pots when I lived in the city and had a 2-foot by 5-foot balcony. I know one guy who has over 200 (that's TWO HUNDRED) fruit trees on 1/8th (that's ONE EIGHTH) of an acre, all of which he grew from seed or cutting.

If one feels they need lots of land before they can get started, they by all means wait until you have lots of land. Alternatively, one could get started, try things, get ready for the time they have land, share their experiences and experiments with their friends, and their friends who have an extra acre of four might be eager to have that acre or four planted in fruit trees... Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed in my life that action precedes opportunity. I wish a thing (have land to grow fruit trees), and no land appears. I start growing fruit trees, and land happens.
 
Victor Johanson
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Although seedlings produced through sexual reproduction aren't likely to be "true to type," it is possible to get genetically identical offspring through apomixis (derived from the Greek and meaning "away from mixing"), which is a form of asexual reproduction that can essentially produce a clone of the original from seed. Many fruit trees reproduce apomictically, so a tree from seed might really be a fatherless clone of the mother.
 
Laura Johnson
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Four years ago I ate some yummy, juicy peaches. I saved the pits and grew a couple trees from the seeds. Here are pictures of this year. I did not prune it and it is so tall, I could not thin the fruit. The peaches are wonderful. Just small. I will do some pruning and be sure and thin the peaches next year!
I have Meyer Lemons from seed. Takes four years for them to fruit.
I currently have some little apple trees from seed. I hope they will turn out.
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Brian Hendricks
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I have heard that French Mirabelle plums grow true to type from seed.

I have 4 different grafted varieties if anybody wants the stones or some cuttings once they start fruiting. An ungrafted mirabelle grows very large so if you grow from seed you will need to prune a lot. Mine are 3 or 4 years old now. You can order grafted ones from a nursery. I got mine from Raintree.

I have been thinking about planting some of the stones to test this out; I have the space and time.
 
David L. Green
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R. Ranson, I'm not sure where you get your nursery stock, but I get some of my apples from Cummins Nursery, and I plant them early. Most of them have borne the year I planted them - not five years, as you say. They have good trees, not like the junk that one gets from Stark Brothers and the other meganurseries. Ones I've grafted myself usually bear in 2-3 years.

As to needing lots of land for seedling apples - I just drove across western Pennsylvania and western New York during apple blossom time - and there are whole hillsides of seedling apples to be seen. I can tell you from my own experience that most of them are not worth picking; they are just deer food. It's fine if someone wants to grow seedlings, but as I said, between my space limitations and my age, I want my apples soon and where I can reach them.

The guy who has hundreds of fruit trees on a small lot is not growing seedlings that way. He has grafted his onto full dwarf rootstock.

I've been using semi-dwarf, but thinking I'd like to use some full dwarf with my next planting. The problem is that my soil is pure beach sand, and gets very droughty in summer, so I'm going to have to hugel the full dwarf apple trees, I think, as I have no running water there and I'm not up to carrying a lot of water through the summer.

I have two loquat trees established now. They are from seed, and I look forward to them fruiting. Many a peach tree in this area came from a pit that someone just threw away, as they were eating. As I said, the self fertile fruits are usually good candidates for growing from seed. But not apples. I guess your mileage may vary.
 
David L. Green
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Heheh, we used to have ONE apple tree among all the hedgerow seedlings that made a good apple - and we all knew where it was. It was a yellow, summer apple. The problem was that the fruit was never quite ripe when we did the first cutting of hay, but we were not willing to wait for it to ripen. So we would indulge, while we were working in that field. Before long we were doing a manoevre that we aptly named "The Green Apple Quickstep."
 
R Ranson
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Oh, I see where you're coming from now.

Absolutely, if I buy a nursery apple tree, pamper it and give it luxuries like water and nice soil, then of course it will give me fruit in the first year. You are absolutely right.

However, my goals on the farm are a bit different. Water is a scarce resource here, and the summer drought seems to be getting worse as the climate changes. My goal is to grow apple trees that can thrive under adverse conditions. Resilience is one of the goals of permaculture (Welcome to Permies.com by the way), and having apple trees that will give me yummy fruit in an utter neglect situation, is one of the things many of us strive for here.

If I bring a fruit tree home from the nursery and plant it in my orchard, it will die as quick as it can. I have to spend a few years acclimatizing it to my conditions. This takes three to five years. Even then, the rootstock is not bred to thrive in a low input situation, so it won't ever really thrive.

As there are only three main rootstock for apples available here (and two more via special order), then having only commercial rootstock will leave my orchard vulnerable to disease and pests.

As I cannot create perfect conditions for apples here, I decided to make apples that fit my conditions. It's much easier and far less expencive.

Having an orchard grown from seed also takes three to five years to produce yummy fruit - only doesn't cost money... not spending money where one doesn't have to is another step towards resilience. The genetic diversity of trees grown from seed is another strategy against weather, disease and pestilence.

Not getting yummy fruit from wild trees? This makes a lot of sense. Going back to what you said earlier and basic plant breeding (I'm thinking along the lines of Carol Deppe's book Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties), the wild trees are selecting for survival. No one's tasting the trees and choosing which ones get stay as they are and which ones are grafted. In my conditions, I keep only the yummy trees. This increases the amount of yummy genetics in my orchard. Instead of one in a hundred trees being yummy, I have 100% yummy. Not going to get technical as it's not my style to do so here, but basically I have a much better chance of growing seedlings that produce yummy apples than in a wild situation. If I was gathering seeds from apples without tasting them, then I agree with you, I would need hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of seedlings to get one yummy apple. Since I'm starting with all yummy parents, I only get maybe one in five not-yummy.


The guy who has hundreds of fruit trees on a small lot is not growing seedlings that way. He has grafted his onto full dwarf rootstock.


Nope. Some were seeds, some (cuttings from) commercial rootstock and a few were dwarfs.

It's just one example of what is possible with a little ingenuity and determination. As you spend more time on this site, I think you'll be impressed by how many people here are doing what mainstream beliefs teach us can't be done. One of the goals here is to encourage people to try new things. Growing from seed may not be your thing, and that's fine. We each have our own style. However, I think it's fantastic and I encourage people to give it a try and see if it works for them. If it does not work, there is no risk involved as it's easy to graft or bud a yummy fruit onto a tree. If they want to give it a go, there are lots of ways to do it without much (or any) land. It's been done before, it can be done again.

Another example of growing fruit trees in small spaces - and this can be done and still get a harvest (of sorts) is to bonsai. It only takes about one cubic foot per tree, but a lot longer to get fruit.
 
Robert Sniadach
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Here in a semi-arid sub-tropical area of Ecuador, citrus of all kinds (but esp madarins) and avocados grow everywhere. Most of the locals have been planting and re-planting their huertas (small orchards around the house) for probably centuries. Literally everyone grows a lot of their own food, including abundant citrus and avos. As you might imagine, genetic drift, spontaneous mutations, newly introduced varieties and whatnot have all played their part to offer a crazy diversity of citrus and avos. As far as I can tell, all the old-timers just plant avo seeds as they want, and inevitably the result is good, or at least decent. You can find all sorts of variations at the market. There are lots of subtle variations of mandarins/tangerines, all grown from seed, up until about 20 years ago, when new grafted varieties began showing up. We've got several small orchards on our property, and there must be 20 different types of mandarins growing on very old trees, all from seed, and all of them ripening at slightly different times.
 
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