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Messages - Doro

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Plant Breeding / Re: Are Determinate Tomatoes Weaklings?
« on: 2019-01-14, 03:54:55 AM »
In terms of healthiness the determinate plants can be as healthy as indeterminate ones.
But since they stop growing at some point they do not have the same size of root system. That's good in pots and good to prevent bad splitting issues during heavy rain, but not so good when grown in ground with little water. During the last dry summer the determinate ones were struggling and had to be watered more frequently than the big guys, despite having less leaf volume to loose water. I found that very interesting, first time that we had so little rain to observe the downside of a smaller determinate root system.
I have not noticed a huge flavour difference in det vs. indet. There are good and bad varieties, just like in indeterminate plants. But that might be my cool climate, where the big ones can't max out their full potential. Or it might be the excessively long days (15-19h of daylight during the growing season) where even the shorter and less leafy plants can do plenty enough photosynthesis. Or it might be that most of my determinates are potato leaf and also on the large plant side of the det spectrum at ~1,5m. Probably a combination of all three factors.

Since I have built a taller greenhouse I mostly grow indeterminate plants with 2-4 stems per plant there. Using all 2,5m of precious head space and maximizing harvest in a short season by having more stems. 5 months are not much time and I start to remove new flowers in August, they would not grow to full size before frost comes.
The determinate ones grow in my old little greenhouse or outdoors in pots under a roof. They fill a niche of growing space in my garden and it's nice they don't need a heavy duty trellis.
I do not grow dwarfs at all anymore atm. I can't afford to let headspace go unused in the greenhouse and I can't grow tomatoes in the field with no shelter. It's too cold here and too rainy in normal years. I might try again at some point though. They could be suitable for hilled rows with low tunnels.

Try parsnips, they are the only biannual surviving my winter in ground. More hardy than kale, kale never survives my winter.

I did a little experimenting with seed from early bolting carrots, those that bolted in normal growing conditions when they should not bolt. The next generation bolted even earlier, before producing a carrot. Nice flowers, but no food. I rather overwinter carrots in the root cellar.
Root cellar storage works for me to bring carrots and other roots like beetroot, rutabaga etc. over the winter.
No luck with cabbage or brussels though, they need light and less humidity.

Chinese cabbage and turnip is quite easy to force into flowering in one year. I start them early indoors (february), bring them outdoors while there is still light night frost (april) and plant them into the greenhouse for summer ;) bolting guarantee. These seeds did not produce early bolting plants for me, so it seems to be an ok method. I will try that with cabbage, brussels and kale too when I find more space indoors.

Plant Breeding / Re: Fava breeding
« on: 2018-12-19, 02:08:18 AM »
I had heard that they are eaten raw when small in some countries, even the whole pod, but I haven't tried that yet.
I plant mine as soon as the soil thaws and harvest once in fall. All what is mature is getting dried for seeds or later eating, all what's not quite mature is shelled and frozen, steamed in butter or used in stir fry style of cooking. The dried ones get used in stews mostly. For those purposes I like white or green seed colours best.

The coloured flowers in my project came from the UK heirloom Crimson flowered. It looks lovely and the pollinators like it more than my white flowered varieties. With pollinators getting less, I think it's good to have flowers they really like.
But Crimson Flowered went through a severe bottleneck when it was saved from going extinct. It is not a really high producer and seeds are smaller than I'd like them to be. But when crossed with Rönnäs (Swedish heirloom) I really got promising results of sturdy healthy plants and increased seed size.
Tannins did not get too bad with the coloured flowers but I'll have to keep an eye on that in the next generations.

Something which might be interesting to know is that Favas were often grown with potatoes in Sweden. Back in the time when things were not harvested by using heavy machinery.
I plant my rows with 1 potato, 2 fava, 1 potato and so on. Which used to work great here.
However I will probably have to stop doing that. If the weather continues to become more dry. The potatoes utilize the moisture far better and the favas dry out. They will get their own space next year, just to avoid the disaster of this season.

Plant Breeding / Re: Fava breeding
« on: 2018-12-18, 01:53:41 PM »
Fava beans are great for flock breeding. I'm surprised there are not more people experimenting with them.

My project has the goal of not too tall plants with side shoots from the base, large seed and colourful flowers. Since I eat what I grow, I'll select for good taste and texture.
I can't decide on a specific flower colour. Pink, purple or crimson is all pretty, so I'll just see what happens.

Sadly my second generation plants died in the heatwave this summer. First time ever that favas failed for me. But the flowers and plants looked promising, so I'll definitely continue the project.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Cooking Section Idea
« on: 2018-12-06, 10:10:41 AM »
The nordic languages overlap a lot. I also get to talk to many Danish and Norwegian people at work, so I get good practice and understand most things just fine.

Grey peas (gråärt) is our word for peas with coloured flowers, pisum arvense.
Blåärt (blue peas) is the same thing just being more specific about blue pod colour.
There are lots of historic pisum arvense varieties preserved in Scandinavia, with round peas, pimpled peas and really wrinkly ones. Normally just the perfectly round ones get used for soup. Dimpled varieties might be ok too, depending on the variety / degree of dimples, but they have a tendency to stay chewy.
Yellow colour is favoured for soup just because it looks nice and is mild creamy in taste. Dark peas can be flavouful aka bitter.
Biskopens gråärt is likely too dimpled already to have enough starch for gravy. Dimpled varieties have many nuances in starch/sugar levels.
I have not grown the Danish variety from the link, but from looking at the peas and the soup I think it is green inside and the seed coat gets tan/light brown when aging. If you can find a look alike arvense variety with slight dimples you should get close in taste and look. I'll sure try to make that soup if I find a suitable variety.

Plant Breeding / Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« on: 2018-12-06, 03:10:16 AM »
Nathan, I am pretty sure they are. After reading about them being self compatible in a potato database I got curious and put a bag over some flower clusters to keep pollinators out. They were still setting fruit readily. Despite being a bad berry year. It was very interesting to watch them keep most of their fruit while other varieties aborted a lot of berries because of heat and dry conditions. I'd say they are very fertile.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Cooking Section Idea
« on: 2018-12-06, 02:54:58 AM »
Tim, I'll take some notes and actually weigh ingredients next time when baking, so I can share the how-to. I make three different peabreads ;) a flat dry one, a soft sweet flat one and a sourdough pea bred. But there are tons of different ways to make bread with them, in the old times peas were used to stretch out the expensive flour. The half high varieties grew on every field together with oats, rye, broad beans and even potatoes, but with mechanic harvesting they disappeared mostly.

Andrew, Biskopens gråärt (the letter æ is Norwegian and Danish btw, we do not have it in Swedish) is a tall garden variety and mostly used fresh. But can be used dried i.e. when you get sick of harvesting peas in summer, they are left to mature and dry for picking them later. Since it has wrinkly seeds it's ground to flour then and used for baking. Only the round dried peas (usually yellow ones) are traditionally used for making soup here.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Cooking Section Idea
« on: 2018-12-05, 11:42:35 AM »
A cooking section would be nice! There are a lot of unique uses for certain varieties and it's always good to learn new things.
My skills of preparing corn are pathetic, it has little food history here, but I'd enjoy learning more things to do with it.
On the other hand I can share plenty of dishes with roots, potatoes, peas or brassicas. Sometimes I think that's all I eat in winter ;) made some peabread today and there will be root mash and fish for dinner.

Plant Breeding / Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« on: 2018-12-05, 01:47:20 AM »
The self incompatibility mechanism in diploids is missing in some commercial diploids. I grew Mayan Gold and Inca Bella, they both set fruit when selfed.
Which makes me wonder, if they are easily making selfed fruit, how many more diploids do? Is the mechanism really present in most diploids or is it just some? Which ones?

Plant Breeding / Re: Climate Change Breeding
« on: 2018-12-02, 10:15:07 AM »
Now you're giving me ideas William ;D the husband will not like a tray of plants in the fridge hahaha but now I'm curious. I will do some controlled refrigerator tests in March when I start my seedlings. That's still early enough to restart more plants if it goes bad.
I grow quite some varieties from Russia, results should be interesting.
Here direct seeded or volunteer seeds start to grow in the greenhouse way after average spring frost. They normally show up late May or June for me. Which makes them too late to produce ripe fruit here. I tried, but that's not happening yet here.
I used to grow different wild tomatoes and did experimental crosses with them. But I was not too happy with them actually. They did not seem more cold hardy to me than the other varieties I grow. And the fruit size made them awfully timeconsuming to pick. Breeding back to a at least somewhat useful fruit size was not a speedy process and I discarded the experiments in the F4 I think. Focusing mostly on beefstake, just grow a few salad types.

Andrew, I have another good poor example for a variety loosing its hardiness because of seedgrowers taking it to a warm climate. The pepper King of the North. Seeds from Spain or Greece.

Plant Breeding / Re: Climate Change Breeding
« on: 2018-12-02, 03:46:37 AM »
I have seen this happen in some of my varieties, but not in all of them.
For example pepper plants and eggplants and their light requirements. I do not like to waste electricity on lighting when starting seedlings early, they get some low watt LED help the first weeks and then they have to grow with whatever dim and short winter daylight we have. The first years they are usually very leggy and grow very slow, but after about 4 years of saving seed from a variety they seem to adapt to the conditions and grow better. At least some of them. With just a little selection help by me, I sow twice the amount I need and just keep the best 50% of the seedlings. When trading seeds with people who use heavy artificial lights on their peppers it's usually a leggy disaster for me and they get squat ground cover plants out of my seeds the first years.
Other examples are short day tuberizing potatoes, they should not tuberize good in long day summers ending early. And usually the first years harvests are no good. But if I continue to grow them for some years the harvest sometimes gets better. Still not a great harvest but at least enough to eat some and keep growing them.
For cold hardiness in tomatoes I noticed that they start flowering earlier and ripening earlier after just a few generations. All I do is saving seed from the first ripe fruit per variety. In the beginning I had two varieties always beating all other varieties in setting fruit in early spring and ripening first. A couple of years later most of my must have varieties that I grow every year flower at the same early time. Misshaped fruit because of cold weather, I think it is called catface? in English, is getting less too.
I do not test for frost hardiness because if I loose the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or eggplants, there is no time to start over. But spring nights in my greenhouse get down to 3C before the emergency heater is starting.
The hot and dry weather events have not been frequent enough to observe changes there.

Plant Breeding / Re: Climate Change Breeding
« on: 2018-12-01, 11:28:21 AM »
Climate change worries me a lot and I have no idea how to prepare for it in my area. It's getting colder or hotter depending on the year and it's not predictable what it's going to be until after planting.
Just 10 years ago we could count on last frost mid May, first frost mid August and in the time between frequent rain at least once a week. I grew anything in sand soil without ever needing to water. Summer days were 15-25C and nights around 10C. Perfect conditions for roots and tubers, brassicas or peas, all the cool weather crops did great.
In recent years we either got even colder summers with endless rain and temperatures hardly ever climbing above 20C or hotter summers with absolutely no rain and over 30C for months. We already got a lot of 25-30C days in the beginning of May. Winter and then dry summer, spring was missing this year.
I've been watching lupine flowers the past years, which are a good indicator for the weather here. They used to be perfect in time for midsummer decorations. 2018 they were done flowering 3 weeks before midsummer, 2017 they just started flowering 2 weeks after midsummer. 5 weeks difference in growth is a quite worrying range. I'm not sure if any crop can be diverse enough to really thrive in both extremes.
2017 we had frost in june and a lot of flooding. 2018 we had forrest fires, drinking water saving restrictions and wet areas falling dry which had never been dry before. Now in november they just reached normal levels again. Farmers had to drastically reduce their stock in summer already because no grass was growing and feed would not last through winter.
My attempt to deal with these unpredictable extremes is to widen the range of things I grow. Growing cool season crops and warm season crops. The potatoes, peas and cabbage suffered, radish and salad bolted, the broad beans just keeled over and wilted. But I got great tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplants and tomatillos. 2017 was the opposite.
Will see what 2019 brings. I hope not another heatwave ;) I like my potatoes.

Plant Breeding / Re: Breeding for Intrinsic Qualities
« on: 2018-11-30, 03:10:24 AM »
I'm not the fastest reader and still enjoy reading through it lol I'm done next month maybe.
But what jumped to my eye right away is the love to detail and all the time that went into the layout and writing. It is nice to just look at it. While modern publications focus on transporting pure information, old publications often transport an extra dimension which is hard to explain. The information it it may be old news for us today, but I enjoy reading the excitement and spirit of discovery between the lines.
What I also found interesting is the parts about Mendel and how the term 'sport' had a different meaning.
It's a reminder that very change takes its time. ~50 years after Mendels experiments there was still a phase of getting used to the idea and figuring out how to apply it to breeding.
I'm still using the term 'sport' in the old UK way. Not sure how that comes, either I read too much outdated literature or my old biology teacher was still stuck in a long gone era.
I'm not sure if I understand the meaning of the word Intrinsic. My spontaneous feeling is that it is along the lines of deep rooted, innate, built in? No idea if I'm on the right track there.

Plant Breeding / Re: Salsify
« on: 2018-11-29, 09:36:06 AM »
I remember trying to grow salsify a long time ago in a heavy clay allotment. The plants grew very healthy looking greens, but the roots were of course remarkably thin and forked. Taste was mild and not woody, but it was too difficult to clean to keep growing it.
Having very light sand soil now, I should try to grow it again. My attempts to grow asparagus failed miserably, salsify root could be a hardy enough replacement.

Plant Breeding / Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« on: 2018-11-29, 08:46:44 AM »
Even though I love the idea of modern landrace breeding I don't apply it to potatoes. The main reason is that our European pollinators are not interested into potato flowers at all. On a row of a male sterile variety, grown between fertile varieties, I might find a single berry on 20 plants. Which in turn means that basicly all volunteer berries on high fertile varieties are selfed. After just a few generations things would run into inbreeding depressions by default.
The other reason is that the interest in starting from seeds (anything really, even tomatoes) is basicly nonexistant in my neck of the woods. People don't want to start seeds indoors and care for seedling plants for 6 weeks. Which has to be done for tps in our climate or you won't harvest more than micro tubers.
In my breeding I'm just looking for good tubers to propagate and eventually share them with interested gardeners. Being in Europe I can't really sell or even give away 'unrecognized varieties' for food anyways. However I can share food crops for experimental, educational or ornamental purpose lol yeah, the idiocy of modern day regulations. Potatoes used to be a huge part of our foodculture, but they are disappearing from our plates. All food has to be a certified variety, but those all look and taste the same and almost all are 'all purpose' i.e. usable for most things, but not really good for anything. It's not surprising that people stopped eating or growing those incrediby boring round clumps of uniform and tasteless things advertised as potatoes.
My simple motivation in breeding potatoes is to bring back some diversity and flavour, at least into home gardens. It's the last place in Europe where food diversity can thrive until laws are changed.
But I'm rambling and drifting away from topic here, sorry.

However that's why most of my crosses are deliberate crosspollinations. I'm trying to match varieties that compliment each other in disease resistance (scab mostly), food quality and unique colour or shape. For me good berry setting ability and selfing ability mainly plays the practical role in regards of 'it needs to be fertile to breed with it' and when it selfs there are no sterility issues in the next generation.
Since I can't produce more than we eat at home, I have to plan carefully what cross is promising enough to make and grow.
I just sow a few seeds from selfed volunteer berries. If I sow them it's just to get an idea of the traits hidden in a certain variety. The offspring can produce decent or not. I guess the underlying issue here is inbreeding depression. Older heirloom varieties, which were probably selfing for some generations already, are not going to have much high yielding offspring when selfed, but might be great for crossbreeding because of other traits and hybrid vigour kicking in. When growing selfed TPS from modern varieties with documented pedigree of a varied parentage, the harvest is usually quite good. I avoid going into a selfed second generation, just occasionally grow them when I know more about their parentage and can guess that inbreeding depression won't set in already.
However I'm interested in finding out how fast inbreeding actually affects potatoes and will probably inbreed a line on purpose. This year I grew a selfed F1 from a variety called Heiderot, which has 4 different grandparent varieties. The F1 had good yields on average (when I exclude the ones being too late for my short season). I plan to grow a F2 next year and don't expect yields to drop just yet. But I have a feeling that inbreeding depression will show up within roughly 5 generations already. Will see.

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