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Messages - Carol Deppe

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Each variety of pea has, as part of it's defining characteristics, the first node at which it is capable of flowering, weather permitting. Peas don't flower until it is warm enough. So when a variety flowers may or may not be on the defined node depending on when it was planted and the weather.

Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-17, 06:23:20 PM »
Well, I'm gonna give it a try. My old walking onions are great but extremely hot flavor, have to be careful how they are used in the kitchen the leaves are really the best part. These new little onions are extremely mild and wonderfully delicious but very small. A cross might make something really really nice.
You might also try a cross of your walking onions to Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion. Those are extraordinarily mild. And supposedly walking onions themselves are a cross of Allium cepa, presumably a hot variety, and Allium fistulosum. So that cross would actually be a backcross.

Plant Breeding / Re: Quality Ornamental / Food Crops
« on: 2019-03-16, 10:50:35 PM »
Reed, getting back to edible ornamentals--

What about breeding some sweet potatoes selected for both beauty and flavor of foliage? Maybe it would be happy houseplants in winter that you could snack upon. Then it gets used to make starts that are set out in spring and grown for greens.

In tropical areas sweet potatoes are a favorite crop to interplant with corn. I suspect they wouldnt get enough sun interplanted with corn in temperate areas. But maybe they would. or maybe they would if they were mostly producing leaves rather than roots. Might be worthwhile deliberately selecting under shady conditions. Lots of urbanites have gardens than are mostly shaded because of other houses and trees.

Plant Breeding / Re: Lima Beans
« on: 2019-03-16, 10:30:42 PM »
I currently do not, but I would like to. I'm saddened that Lima beans are being replaced by soybeans more and more. I'm also open to southern "butter beans", which are just a certain kind of lima bean.

P.s. if anyone is growing non gmo black soybeans, I would also be interested to growing those.
Victory Seeds has lots of non-gmo soybeans, including blacks. Ive grown Black Jet, but thought the flavor as a dry bean really foul. Some think it is great. It may be the earliest black.

Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-15, 03:01:24 PM »
Go ahead and try it, different chromosome numbers or not.

What interspecific crosses will take is very unpredictable. It can vary with individual, so try more than just two plants as parents. Difficult crosses frequently go better if the plant has a choice to either accept your cross or not reproduce sexually at all. So remove all flowers that arent your cross. Difficult crosses often go better if the pollination has more time to take, such as if female flower is pollinated in bud stage or earlier than usual, then pollinated again at ordinary time.

Different chromosome numbers between parents can produce a hybrid that has low germination of seeds or even complete sterility. However, such hybrids may reproduce clonally just fine. (Since vegetative reproduction is all mitosis, it doesnt matter that the chromosomes dont pair, since chromosomes replicate independently without pairing in mitosis.) If you want to continue to develop the project via sexual reproduction and seeds, where the hybrid has parents with different chromosome numbers, it usually works better to backcross to one parent instead of going to an F2. (F2 may give no viable seeds, while backcross often gives a workable fraction of viable seeds.)

OSSI pledged varieties / Re: Magic Manna
« on: 2019-03-14, 05:38:37 PM »
Iím delighted you like Magic Manna flour corn so much, Olaf. You might also like Cascade Ruby-Gold flint corn. Cascade Ruby-Gold is even more resilient than Magic Manna. Both are very early and very drought tolerant. But Cascade Ruby-Gold, like most flints, is less vulnerable to insects and mold, and more resilient to rains during harvest. Both make good corn bread. Magic Manna of the right colors is good for parching and Cascade Ruby-Gold isnít. Cascade Ruby-Gold is great for polenta and Magic Manna isnít. Only Magic Manna can be used to make fine textured baked goods such as pancakes and cakes. And, of course, gravy.

My farm collaborator grows both varieties and grinds both for sale in the Saturday market. He sells about ten times more Cascaded Ruby-Gold flint than Magic Manna. Interestingly, few of these customers are making cornbread or any other baked goods. They are using the Cascade Ruby-Gold flint for polenta and the Magic Manna for gravy.

I far prefer Cascade Ruby-Gold for cornbread. I also use a lot of it for polenta. These days I mostly use the Magic Manna for cake, pancakes, and gravy.

To make gravy with Magic Manna, do exactly as you would do to make a cornstarch gravy. However, use about twice as much MM flour as cornstarch and cook it about twice as long. You can use MM flour to make a sauce/gravy for any stir-fry, or to turn any soup into a cream of whatever soup or stew, or as the basic thickener for a stew. The brown ears make the tastiest gravy. The mix is also good. Pure white kernel flour is a bit sweet for gravy, but with a little added sweetener and sour ingredient makes very a very nice sweet and sour sauce.

Both varieties can produce good crops in Willamette Valley, Oregon without irrigation. (We have no rain at all in the summer. So to accomplish that the corn has to be early enough and have good enough root systems to grow and finish off on moisture in the soil left from winter rains.)

If you are planting the corn under low-water or drought conditions, itís helpful to presoak the seed for 24 hours. Then if you mix a little dry soil with the seed it absorbs the water so the seed is free-flowing and easy to handle. (The seed is fully swollen at this point but the roots have not emerged.)

To presoak seed, use excess water and stir several times plus change water a couple times during the soaking. I use 5X to 10X as much water as seed by volume. Otherwise the seed uses up all the oxygen in the water and suffocates. If the seed imbibes water unevenly so that some has and some hasnít, this is usually because only the seed on top got enough oxygen. It means you need more water for that amount of seed, or more stirring, or to change the water more frequently. A traditional way of presoaking much larger amounts of seed was to put it in a mesh bag, tie off the top, and put it in a creek or river for a day (where it would get plenty of oxygenation from the flowing water).

Presoaking is also useful if you are planting so early there is inadequate heat to germinate seed.  It takes more heat for seed to break dormancy than it does for the seed to grow once dormancy is broken. The seedlings themselves have good frost resistance. But if there is near freezing or freezing weather at planting, the seed will likely rot rather than germinate unless it is presoaked. However, the soaking actually breaks seed dormancy. So presoaked seed can handle more erratic weather conditions both with respect to water and temperature.

If you have any specific questions about Magic Manna, ask away. 

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-03-11, 06:18:57 PM »
Five appropriate schools within commuting distance and your being willing and able for everything from 5th thru 12th makes the prep for teaching sound pretty solid.

I think you may be right that you might be able to have a larger impact on younger kids. Many kids who are smart in the verbal stuff, for example, become convinced they are dumb in math. I'm convinced that its all bad teaching and fear of math. Most grade school teachers are themselves uncomfortable with math.

Here are three stories you might like. Four grade school teachers, all of whom had much more impact on me than any middle school or high school teachers. Ordinary public schools, nothing elite.

In 1st grade, the teacher took me and a few others who learned to read faster than most and paired each of us with a kid who was having trouble. The teacher worked with the main class. The slower kids each had their own private tutor. That was where I started to learn how to teach. And how to explain anything in multiple ways. Learning to teach is so demanding, interesting, and complicated that it kept the faster students happy, occupied, and out of trouble. That was the only teacher I had who used that trick. I think it would work great on math at all levels. Whatever else, that was the beginning of my learning to delight in teaching, communicating well, and explaining things.

Second story. My family had just moved to Massachusetts, and I had just started 4th grade. Like many faster students, I read ahead in all the books while in class. Many such students report being punished for it. But I was very cagey. I would keep track pretty well of where the class was so I could answer if called upon. I also deliberately raised my hand and volunteered to answer the harder questions. That way I would get my participation quota in as well as be very unlikely to be called on if my hand wasn't up.

By the end of the second week, I had read all the books except math, and was working my way through that. That was harder, because you have to solve the problems. But we weren't allowed to take the books home. I thought the teacher was oblivious, but suddenly she asked me to stay after class.

She said, "I've noticed you've read all the books except math," she said. "That's harder to do in class, because you have to work the problems. Right?"

I agreed, very sheepishly. So much for teacher obliviousness. The teacher--Mrs. Bachelor--offered to let me take the book home so I could go at my own pace. I accepted eagerly. She also offered to correct any problem sets if I gave them to her. "And there are more math books after that one. I can get them for you."

So I worked my way through a few math books at home. I handed in a problem set once in a while, more for human contact than any other reason. And I started reading (adult) popular science books I got from the local library in class. I continued to be discreet about it and participate in class too. But I didn't presume to think I was fooling the teacher. I knew perfectly well I wasn't. But she was complicit.

I went to the same school for 5th grade. I remember thinking the first day how boring math was going to be now. But when the books were handed out, my pile was one book higher than everyone else's.... Lo and behold, the extra book was where I had left off in 4th grade, several grades up from 5th. The fourth grade teacher had told the fifth grade teacher, and the pattern continued. The whole thing was very discreet. Nobody ever knew about it besides me and those two teachers. Science was always my first love, though. By the end of fifth grade, I had read every popular science book in the local library.

Sixth grade, we moved to Florida, and the first day I took the state-wide Florida 12-grade Placement Test. It's scored relative to averages for the grade. I placed 12+ in everything except one area of math, probably calculus, which I hadn't got to in 5th grade. I continued my pattern of reading science books in school.

Soon I found myself invited to stay after class to talk with that teacher. To be punished for reading other stuff in class? Not at all. For a very frank conversation. The teacher said that given my placement scores, there wasnt much she could do for me in the ordinary course of class. Then she said she noticed I really liked science. I agreed.

She sighed. "Science is hard for me. I don't think I teach it well. I was an English major. I have a proposal." Her proposal was she would give me two hours a day and I could go off in the library and read whatever I wanted. I in turn would teach the science. Once a week, on Friday, I would give a talk on some aspect of science, my choice. I still remember some of those talks. One was on the structure of atoms, for example. Another was on the solar system, movements of planets, etc. So I got more opportunity to teach as well as do public speaking. (And was kept interested enough to not have to make trouble.) And the students loved it. They were getting it from someone who was really excited about it.

Seed Saving / Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« on: 2019-03-11, 11:00:51 AM »
This is my first year attempting to save seed of biennial root crops by storing them directly in the ground over the winter. I know that a lot of seed growers hand books say that this is not a good idea but I have also met a lot of gardeners that have been able to keep the roots and get seed just fine in the ground.
The reason seed grower's info advises against saving seed from overwintered biennial root crops is not because you can't overwinter them. It's because you can't select a root crop properly without looking at the root. And if you don't select every generation, an op variety usually turns into crap pretty quickly.

You may be able to get away with a generation of seed increase without selection, though, especially if the variety is pretty uniform. That might be used to greatly expand the seed supply where the crop will overwinter.

What overwinters where depends on the type and timing of freezes as well as pest and disease problems. So which varieties are best at overwintering is very region-specific. Wet cold isn't the same as dry cold. Here in maritime Oregon, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets all overwinter or not, depending on variety. But turnip roots get eaten up by worms and what is left molds. Potatoes that freeze turn to mush, but most years the hardest freeze doesn't reach below about three inches deep, and lots of potatoes are below that.

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-03-11, 10:24:06 AM »
I overlooked the possibility of the courses costing so much you might have to go into debt. Back when I was doing college, there was usually at least one very affordable college in every state if you were an instate student.  (I worked my way through U of Florida as an undergrad. For an instate student it cost only $90/trimester, which was almost nothing even then.) Colleges are increasingly pricing more and more students out of the market. And states are increasingly cutting funds and abandoning the mission of making higher education available to their citizens. Just a totally different situation now.

Is it teaching high school we're talking about? And do you already have a botany degree and need only pick up teaching credits, or need to do the whole 4 years? And is it a foregone conclusion that you would be able to get the teaching job? And without moving? If you would have to move anyway to get a teaching job, and/or if a teaching job was more iffy instead of a semi-sure thing, you might be better off moving to someplace where the botany contracting was more dependable and local.

A big question is whether you actually like teaching, and whether you would like it in the relevant age group and social situation.

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-03-10, 11:01:34 AM »
Not necessarily. I think you are failing to distinguish between growing seed wholesale and retail. Retail means you become a retail seed company, and spend huge amounts of time packing seed and filling orders to gardeners and farmers. Wholesale means you grow one or a few crops and sell them to retail seed companies. As a wholesale grower, you would probably sell to one to a dozen retail seed companies. They sell to the gardeners or farmers. Some seed companies do both. But it's straight wholesale growing that would interfere least with other things.

I think these days even a job like teaching hs is not very secure. You're one bad/unfair boss or false accusation away from even a tenured position becoming unbearable or blowing up. Only being self employed gives any real freedom. Or being in a position where you have alternatives.

If I personally were in your situation, I think I'd go for a combo of teaching in winter and growing wholesale seed along with gardening and plant breeding in summer. Maybe take only the more lucrative botany contracts that interfere least with gardening and phase them out for wholesale seed growing once I was teaching. The contract botany work interferes with plant breeding and even gardening. And my guess is that it will become less rather than more reliable in the future. And being gone all summer doesnt combine that well with having a family, either.

Wholesale seed growing combines fantastically well with plant breeding and gardening. Both would combine nicely with teaching. You could build a wholesale seed growing business on the side while teaching, without needing it to provide more than extra income for the first decade. If the teaching goes well, you might do both happily until you have a retirement income and can do seeds as a supplementary income. If the teaching blows up, you would have a good start on an alternative business.  You would probably use the material from plant breeding in your teaching plus hire the best one or two students to help in summer. Note that being self employed generally provides no health care, benefits, or retirement.

Another thing that combines very well with teaching is writing books, by the way. If you're a good writer, consider adding it to your repertoire. Books of any sort, including novels, as well as stuff related to gardening.

However, those would be my approaches. I really love teaching. (And teaching in the form of writing books is something I keep in the mix.) (Something you might also consider.) You'll have to make your own choices. And there will be luck involved.

If I were a HS teacher these days, I would encourage all the kids to start now and develop something income producing on the side while still at home. Something totally theirs. Write a book. Develop an internet business. Start breeding plants or growing seed. The conditions associated with ordinary jobs are getting worse and worse. More and more is done via gigs with no bennies. Most university teachers these days are adjuncts with lousy pay, no rights, and no prospect of tenure. People working part time are often expected to be accessible 24/7. Meaning even a crappy part-time job may mean a full time boss and full time loss of freedom. There's more and more done with robots. AI is deskilling and eliminating even many middle class jobs. Big corporations use non-compete agreements to prevent you from getting a job in your field at all if you quit, meaning they dont need to promote you or treat you well. It used to be that many jobs were secure, once you had them. Not any more. Its a good time to become self-employed if at all possible.

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-03-09, 09:28:58 PM »
Hello Richard. I checked out what you wrote on p 1 of the intro section. Sounds like you are juggling three things--taking classes to become a science teacher (presumably in winter), doing gigs as a contract botanist in summer, and gardening and plant breeding in summer. And you mention that the botany contracting often interferes with the gardening or eliminates it, such as when you end up spending all summer out of state. It seems to me that the contract botany and contracting in advance for ungrown seed crops would be incompatible. When you grow on contract for a retail seed company, they are counting on you. They might forgive an occasional crop failure, but not the level of failure to deliver your situation would likely involve.

However, there is no reason you couldn't grow a few likely seed crops without contracts and sell wholesale to retail seed companies without a contract. Retail seed companies usually prefer to buy what they need from inventory anyway, where this is possibe, rather than have to make a special contractual arrangement for the crop, and maybe end up with more or less than they need. However, this leaves you in the situation of gambling, as you may be unable to find a buyer for all or part of your crop. If you go that route, I'd suggest you learn to dry seed well enough for freezing and invest in a freezer just for seed storage. You will also need a good dehydrator.

To sell a dozen or so seed crops wholesale may involve a relationship with only one to a few seed companies. Usually you will need to prove yourself. Or get an intro from someone the seed company trusts.

As for selling packets retail via your own website, you will usually need to spend far more time packing seeds and running the business than growing the seed. And that will interfere with all other winter and summer employment. Very few one person or one family retail seed companies earn as much as a teacher's salary. Maybe none of the dozens I know of. Those that make it out of abject poverty usually struggle more than a decade and have employees before they get there.

Most one family retail seed companies are conducted in addition to a full-time job rather than instead of. Or are started after retirement from a full time job, so there is already a retirement income. Or one of the couple has a full time real job. Or is, indeed, a teacher in winter, and does seeds in summer, and spouse does seeds too. Or were running a farm or market garden already. Selling retail means a lot of work jan thru april filling seed orders in addition to growing the seed in summer. It takes MUCH more time and work selling seed retail than it does to grow it. selling wholesale need not take much time if its a dozen or fewer crops and a half dozen customers. Growing seed wholesale would combine better with teaching.

(Rowan and others in Australia and New Zealand are in a totally different situation. There is no equivalent to Johnny's, Fedco, Territorial, Hi Mowing, or Southern Exposure there--regional seed companies from which you can buy, mail order, an incredible variety of high-quality seed of regionally appropriate, excellent varieties. Most people in Australia and New Zealand buy packet seed of multinational companies from garden stores. Selection is very limited. And what there is is not necessarily of the best varieties. Quarantine laws make it difficult or impossible to import any seed of most food crop varieties without a government growout, a very expensive proposition. There are very few mail order seed companies, even tiny ones. In Australian and New Zealand, more mail order seed companies are desperately needed.) (In the USA there are already hundreds of small one family seed companies. So getting noticed is much more problematic. Though OSSI association probably helps.)

So, what to grow? If it's widely sold, there is no reason anyone is going to buy it from you at hand-processed prices rather than from their regular big wholesale grower, who sells it for cheaper. Ideal is if it is a new variety you have developed yourself. Especially if it is OSSI-Pledged. Any excellent variety that you have discovered in your trials that is not commercially available or commercially availabke wholesale is another possibility. You need to be able to make a case for why it deserves to be commercially available.

 In most but not all cases you'll do better trying to sell a reasonably uniform variety, not variable landrace material. The bigger retail seed companies have customers very few of whom save seeds and approximately none of whom want to breed plants. And they want every plant to be prime, not just some of them. There are exceptions. But they are a harder sell than pure varieties.

Beans and other legume seeds are problematic because of the possibility of spreading diseases. Most bigger retail seed companies buy certified bean seed from big wholesale growers in Idaho, where there is a huge state-run inspection program.

There are special opportunities in growing OSSI-Pledged Seed and selling to OSSI Partner Seed Companies. I'll address that in a separate email. Give me a few days.

Plant Breeding / Re: Quality Ornamental / Food Crops
« on: 2019-03-09, 09:40:22 AM »
Some amaranths make dramatic fall flowers.

Selling one or a few wholesale seed crops to retail seed companies on contract is more lucrative and easier for most than selling plants or produce in farmers market.

OSSI Pledges new ornamental varieties and breeding material as well as edibles. :-)

Plant Breeding / Re: Plant breeders without borders
« on: 2019-02-28, 09:51:09 AM »
OSSI is open source, not open access. In the seed context, open access is called "public domain". It is an unprotected commons. If you release a real winner as a public domain variety, Monsterco can slap their own bag-tag on your variety, give it a name of their own to imply they bred it, and distribute it far and wide. Their bag-tag would require all others to pay Monsterco to use or breed from your variety. Monsterco would have full access to exploit all your plant breeding work. You would have no ability to use and build on their plant breeding work, since theirs is proprietary. This means there is a one-way flow of genes and varieties from the public domains  commons to the proprietary. Historically, unprotected commons for valuable accessible resources don't work. Once the laws were changed to allow proprietary seeds, the public domain seed commons was doomed. Already university breeders are finding themselves restricted by being unable to use some of the breeding material they need.

Commons do not work when some participants can take as much as they want and put nothing back. Garrett Hardin's famous article (Science 1968) was on the "Tragedy of the Commons", and concluded all commons are basically doomed. But actually, only unprotected commons are doomed. Humans often have commons that last. But these are protected commons.

OSSI is a protected commons. It's open only to those who are also willing to share.

Plant Breeding / Re: Plant breeders without borders
« on: 2019-02-28, 05:58:58 AM »
Based on Open Source software, in the contrary it is the ownership you have on some code that allows you to license it as opensource and grant some free rights on it. That's what disturbs me about OSSI, that somehow you have to take ownership on some genetic material to license it to free its (re)use and preventing ownership down the line that could lock some use.
This is the reason we allow only the breeder of a variety to OSSI-Pledge it. When I have bred a variety I DO own the variety. After I OSSI-Pledge it, I don't own it any more. OSSI-Pledged varieties and their derivatives cannot be owned or restricted or controlled by anyone, not even their breeders. That's how I personally look at it.

In actuality, the OSSI Pledge is legally a bag-tag agreement--the  bag-tag agreement to end all bag-tag agreements. And bag-tag agreements are legal and enforcible under contract law. And such bag-tag agreements don't require you to own the seed to be legal. So even if your view is that not even the breeder of a variety ever owns it, not even transiently before the variety is released, the Pledge is still valid.

Plant Breeding / Re: Plant breeders without borders
« on: 2019-02-27, 07:32:58 PM »
Yes, it is enough for me to know that Bayer and the FIS are supporting it. That is sufficient for me to tell them to take a hike
It's enough for me too.
Thanks for your insights on this, Jack.

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