Mark Reed

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since Mar 19, 2020
I grow stuff
SE Indiana
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Recent posts by Mark Reed

There in the muskmelon picture a little right of center toward the bottom. The one with very pronounced lobes. I have some that look similar (may have originated from your seeds). They are longer season than I really like, they just lay there seemingly forever looking the same then all of a sudden, within a day or two turn orange. Once orange they have to be eaten right away or they spoil and are actually very good while still green.  The stems and even the fruits have an unpleasant fuzz but it wipes off easily with a cloth. The flesh is firm, almost like an apple and the flavor is beyond compare.  Does any of that match with that one in the picture?  
1 day ago
I have a collection of grapes, I take cuttings and have planted them all up and down the road to my house and all over the state owned hunting land near me. I hope the will cross with our wild grapes and eventually make all kinds of new ones. Our area isn't known for native pecans but the grow very well here, lots of big old trees in small towns along the Ohio river. Every year I go collect them, one time I had them a foot deep in the truck bed. I plant them everywhere and discovered that if you just dump a big pile in the woods the squirrels will plant them for you. If they have more than they can eat at once they pant them and they really don't remember them all because now there are little pecan trees all over the place in my neighborhood.  I do the same with hickory and walnut but the pecans are much more numerous and easier to get in quantity.

Su Ba, several years ago, before the last big eruption of Kilauea we visited your island. Along the south coast we went to the spot where a prior eruption had closed the road that I guess used to go all the way along the coast from Hilo to Kona.

Anyway visitors to that area were asked to take coconuts out on the lava near the ocean. Home made sings asked if you make the trek across the lava to take a coconut. Our rental house south of Hilo had lots so we gathered them up and took them there. There were just cracks in the lava to stick them in, I could hardly imagine they could grow but there were some that others had planted and they were already beautiful little trees.

Can you tell from my description where I might be talking about? Do you know if there is a coconut grove there now? Are the Kapoho tide pools still there or did the most recent eruption wipe them out.

I have to say that the big island along the ocean south of Hilo is the best place I have ever visited. Our house sat on the edge of a lava cliff a few yards from the ocean the swells slamming into the cliff made a slight vibration and sounded like far distant thunder. The coconut leaves made clicking noises in the breeze. All I had to do was sit down and listen and would fall asleep.  The farm market in Hilo was astonishing in it's diversity and pricing. We filled the house with fresh orchids and the fridge and counters with all kinds of produce for not much over a hundred bucks.

Give my regards to the spirits along the saddle road.

2 days ago
Well the 2020 sweet potato harvest is done. Wouldn't call it an emergency harvest but it was hurried as a cool breeze and light sprinkles was moving in. Didn't really get to tag and sort individual plants as I intended. O' well I actually hate that aspect of plant breeding anyway.

So I ended up just pitching a single root of each seedy plant into a tub and brought them in by a small heater to keep them warm for a couple days. I don't really know the actual importance of this warm curing period and have never done it before but guess it won't hurt.  

There is about 20 or so in the picture, not all the best looking roots but all nicely seedy and some what I might call super seedy. I think root quality is likely affected by poor growing conditions so just when I thought next year might get easier now I'm thinking I should actually spend the time and effort to improve growing conditions. Time to act like I actually care if they grow or not instead of just sticking them in pots full of what ever I scrounge up. Maybe even make some effort that they are all growing in the same mix so I can tell if differences are genetic or environmental.

Also lots to learn about storage quality, do some get internal cork like I've read about? Don't really even know what it is exactly but don't think I've ever seen it. Anyway, the learning curve is not flattening much at all.

I'm just going to let these do their thing next spring, maybe see some difference in storage ability, flavor after storage, how well they produce slips and so on.

Those two in the second picture demonstrate a possible issue. The onw with lots of roots, especially that fatter root, I think is indicative of  one that might make deep or spread out roots which I don't want. On the other hand it was from the most seedy plant I've ever seen. The one next to it with just a little root sticking out is more indicative of those that only make my preferred clump roots.

There were other roots on each that I kept in the tub to eat along with all the poor seeders. Some had a small extra one or two that I went ahead and sampled. Found a couple more of the sweet purple/yellow ones and a purple/orange that's also quite tasty. I didn't make any effort to tag them separate.  Unless they rot or whither in storage which I doubt, I'll find them again next year.

The harvest to eat is still sitting out there as I stupidly tossed them all in one big tub and it was too heavy to lift so I pitched a piece of plastic and an old blanket on top. I'll get them put up tomorrow. Also didn't do much on bringing in stems to mature seeds, they will still be there tomorrow too. I don't really need them but might collect up a few more.

4 days ago
I've grown lots and lots of both thyme and oregano. My reason to deal with the little leaves on thyme is because I love it in lots of dishes. Oregano by comparison tastes like grass to me. My herb of choice if I want something different from thyme in a dish is sweet marjoram, which I call oregano with flavor.

But I don't dry and store them. I keep them both along with rosemary and sage as houseplants in the south kitchen windows. The thyme and sage are fine outside all winter but having them handy inside is a little luxury I think. I don't know how many kinds of thyme we have but it is a lot and they are all good. One self seeded in the sidewalk cracks and smells wonderful when you walk on it. The leaves on that particular one are so tiny it is a real pain to harvest and use them.    
My Asters have generally larger flower displays along with the larger flowers. More flowers per stem is just a happy accident as I never really selected for that. I wonder now if a larger display stood out more and is what helped catch my eye as I drove down the road. Maybe I did select for it and not even know it.

I think flower color must be genetically quantitive cause they range from a darker purple to white. Pure white is rarely seen so I'm guessing maybe it is recessive or more so. Plants are perennial for two or three years and I always tag any pure white ones to be sure I don't accidentally mow them down or something. Still in an occasional season I don't have any white ones, I'm excited this year to have several.  

Seeds are in little puffs, sort of like dandelions and to spread them I just clip stems and shake them out in the wind over areas I want them to grow. The maintained part of the yard is about 1 acre. Over the years I have managed to get them to make an almost solid perimeter of fall color around the edges and in the wood lots.

In mass they are stunning in the dim light at dusk and seem to almost glow under a bright moon. Visitors sometimes comment they have never seen anything like them. I'm thinking, they are just roadside weeds you goof ball, you drive by them all the time.
1 week ago
I've seen lots of definitions and even arguments about what is or isn't a landrace. I tend to go with the notion that it involves the aspect of a locally wild population. Maybe or maybe not that has been brought into cultivation. The arguments about it are actually quite irrelevant to me. Existing wild in the immediate geographic region, collected up from multiple sources and adapted, I don't care. I just like to grow stuff, terminologies and labels mean little and certainly have no effect on how or if something grows.

That said, when I first built my house and long before I ever heard of landrace, long before I got into seed saving let alone plant breeding, I didn't have any flowers. Well I have always loved the wild asters that grow in my area so one day I stopped along the road and dug some up. Turns out there are lots f kinds, even different species I'm told but I never paid much attention to any of that. I prefer those that have slightly larger flowers and with fewer petals on a flower.

So for 15 years all over SE Indiana and N Central Kentucky when ever I saw one along the road that tickled my fancy, I stopped and dug it up. I never saved seeds, I just let them disperse on their own. You can't tell before flowering exactly what kind one is so pollen is always dispersed but when one I favor less shows up I cull it before it disperses seeds. I had no clue about landraces or breeding but I remembered enough from high school biology to know I could artificially speed up and assist in the evolution of the wild asters. All I had to do was give a little cultivation assist to the the ones I liked best.

So presenting, Reed's Ohio Valley Asters. A Landrace by any standard, species unknown.
1 week ago
Yep, they are viable seed, just ask Joseph. I think he had some from other sources too but most of those seedlings in his pictures are from my seed. I do hope they will eventually be for sale and in quantity, I'm working with a couple seed companies to that end but it will take another two years at least to scale up production. If it turns out I can't make a deal it will take even longer but I'll figure something out. I prefer a deal with a seed company cause they already have the marketing mechanism and all the necessary permits and licensees that might be required.

As far as gold goes since it isn't very digestible, I figure they are worth a lot more than it is.
2 weeks ago
I was planning to go ahead and harvest mine cause of the cool weather but now we are predicted to have a few days of warmer drier so I think I'll leave them to finish up some more seeds. Clipping stems and bringing them in to finish works good but I would rather just let them do it outside if possible. I did kind of accidentally on purpose pull up a few more side ones. What I mean by that is those that grew where a stem had rooted down away from the main trunk, so I'm not really 100% sure which plant these came from except the two on the right, they came from one of those with the very long vines. They are also from some that I rate at 5 or less out of 10, for seeds. Will let them cure a few days on a south windowsill and then see how they are baked.  

They and probably 2/3 of all the rest are also from the group that was started directly in the ground rather than inside or in the cold frame. I'm real excited about that as it eliminates that step each spring. No greenhouses, no heat, nothing special required. It's taken 7 years but they are getting to where they are as or even more easy to start than tomatoes.

You can eat the roots and store them for months. You can eat the leaves and grow them fresh year round. You can clone your favorite roots indefinitely. You can grow big roots from seeds and store seeds for decades.  Sweet potatoes are pretty sweet!

2 weeks ago
Here in Indiana and I'm sure lots of other places a big south window can accommodate a nice patch of sweet potato greens to harvest all winter. Then if you want you can plant them out in spring and grow some more taters too!
2 weeks ago
It might not be to early to go ahead and start selecting for culinary quality in my sweet potatoes this year. Here are some small ones I pulled out from the edges of the pots, leaving the main plant and hopefully larger roots to finish making more seeds.

The white/purple one is very crunchy and not sweet, I think it would be good in beef stew or fried with onions or garlic. When it was first cut the white part was snowy white but by time I found the camera it had changed. Don't know how that would effect flavor, might if using it in a dish want to get it cooking immediately. I have lots that are good that way though so no need to worry over this one too much.

The orange one is Ok, probably would benefit from an actual curing period. Again noting of real note but it is a good seeder. Here is where I might start selecting. I expect that other good seeders will be at least as good for seeds but better for culinary, so this one might not make the cut.

The yellowish on on the right is yum, yum, yum even with out curing. It is only moderate for seeds, say in the neighborhood of 6 out of 10 but it is wonderful, hard to imagine I'll find one better  but can always hope. Of all those I've seen over the years if I was to select one to scale up and keep for clonal propagation this one might be it.

Wonderful, wonderful variety in sweet potatoes, that for sure!
2 weeks ago