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Topics - William S.

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One of my garden crops is pollinators.

I am a native plant gardener for over 20 years. Professionally I work as a botanist and sometimes albeit rarely get to study pollinators for work. More often I collect seed for wildflowers to replant and support flowers. For native plant gardening I also often grow native north American plants from beyond my local flora. So eastern Montana plants that don't naturally make it to western Montana and plants from the eastern U.S. and California that are very botanically interesting do make it into my native plant gardens at home.

When I was I think a teenager Seeds Blum in Idaho a once awesome garden catalogue had a mix up with their beans. A highly effective native pollinator crossed them one year! So they offered the resulting bee pollinated grex.

Dakota Bumble bean is named for such a cross.

A tomato loving fellow I encountered once on facebook claimed that in his state in the upper Midwest he got a lot of natural crosses due to a specific species of pollen robbing bee that would cut into the anther cone. I would love to have that bee species but have never observed such feeding damage. He claimed it was only in his area.

Some legume specialist bees are good at crossing our normally inbreeding legumes.

Montana is currently doing its first ever bee survey. Maybe as an act of citizen science I should do my own bee survey on my eight acres. I have about four acres of degraded hill prairie of the Palouse prairie type with a mix of native and introduced plants.

Then I have some pollinator plants I grew for the bees. Including some natives that don't naturally occur on the property. Anise Hyssop or Agastache urticifolia is a favorite pollinator plant I plant along with Bee Balm Monarda fistulosa. I also have Agastache foeniculum and need to propagate more of it. I have at least three strains of bee balm all of which I think are Monarda fistulosa or at least hybrids with it. One came from a nursery I was working at, another came from a county distributed pollinator mix, and the third is a local ecotype native strain. I also do have some wild plants on my hill.

Another favorite is milkweed which for me is mostly the local native species showy milkweed or Asclepias speciosa but I also grow or have grown Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias fasciculata, Asclepias cordifolia, and I have tried multiple times to get Asclepias tuberosa started to no avail. I am currently starting a new start of incarnata after it died out some time ago and my fasciculata and cordifolia I have yet to see come back this year though they have been coming back. The big patches are all Asclepias speciosa though.

My wife is growing a cut flower garden with a diverse mix of mostly non-native flowers, but she is including some native flowers.

My crops thus year include buckwheat, turnips, radish, corn, beans, peas, favas, squash, watermelons, and tomatoes amongst them. Diverse crops and pollinators plantings and even weeds provide a garden a nice backdrop to support bee diversity.

I attended a bee identification workshop once through work put on by some researchers who did a large study in California and they strongly supported planting floral diversity in gardens to support bees. In their study it probably helped to have natives or some natives in the mix, but the most important thing to support bee diversity is to plant diverse floral resources- so lots of species of plants, particularly flowering plants.

I also briefly got to study butterflies intensely for a former job some 10+ years ago. Butterflies also need a diversity of plants including specific larval host plants and specific floral food plants. Often varying by species. I am a bit against planting non-native butterfly bush to attract them- at least not without also taking the time to research and plant native larval food plants and native nectar sources as well.

Oh also there are certain plants which attract humming birds and no garden is complete without them! Bee balm, golden currant Ribes aureum, Ipomopsis aggregata or scarlet gilia are a few of my favorite natives in this region. Basically look for red and yellow tubular flowers and particularly native ones.

A favorite native tree of mine is Blue Elderberry which used to go by Sambucus caerulea and Sambucus mexicana but is now considered to be Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea and grows all along the west coast states. It attracts a significant pollinator complex, has a long period of bloom, produces fruit which makes delicious jelly, and also the fruit attracts birds. I also have a Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis from Eastern North America. Some cultivars of the European elderberry Sambucus nigra ssp. nigra are sold at garden centers and any of these three-tree subspecies will work for pollinators throughout the circumboreal range of the species. Though your local native subspecies may be the best recognized- my Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis doesn't attract the birds as readily as the Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea a bit of an advantage. It would be interesting to compare the pollinator complex of the two trees. I have a third tree which the first year it set fruit had black fruit and I thought it canadensis and then in subsequent years developed fruit with a yeast bloom like caerulea. It is a seedling and could be a hybrid between the subspecies or it might just be caerulea and it took the yeast a year to colonize, uncertain!

So I am curious about my pollinators and also about my natural out crossing rates. Organic gardens with lots of diverse floral resources can support a lot of pollinator insects. Pollinators can include bees, wasps, flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, and some odd balls like mammalian bats. Most common might be the diverse species of bees that visit flowers.

Tomatoes / Kanti Rawal and Steve Peters Tomato Breeding
« on: 2022-05-18, 02:30:57 PM »
I think I met Steve Peters about 5 or 6 years ago. He came up with OSA for a free workshop as part of some extended OSA support for the local seed movement here in Western Montana.

I've been following Fred Hempel Artisan Seeds on Instagram. Recently he posted the following. "We are devoting a corner of our field to the work of Kanti Rawal and Steve Peters (Seed rEvolution Now) this year. They are developing new low input, hardy tomato varieties that don't require staking."

One variety associated with seems to be Brandywine Cherry a cherry tomato with Brandywine ancestry. Another is Brandywine saladette.

They are dry farming them in California and they don't require staking. They are supposed to be modern determinates crossed with heirlooms.

I wondered if they might be dwarfs but uncertain if that is actually the case- there are tomatoes other than dwarfs that do a decent job of keeping the tomatoes off the ground. In fact Joseph Lofthouse wrote about that with some of his older strains.

Anyway, I think it is fun that there are groups of tomato breeders out there that I haven't heard much of before but who are doing very interesting work! 

Tomatoes / Vigor in Tomatoes
« on: 2022-05-15, 10:45:37 PM »
F1 hybrid tomatoes can be more vigorous, and I am growing both commercial F1's including Galahad, Cloudy Day, Iron Lady, Purple Zebra, Lizzano, and Sungold as well as a large number of F1 seedlings that arose from MMS in a crossing block and now some new (MMS x BH F1) x Aztek. These all seem to have good vigor.

One of my first observations about Iron Lady F2 is that it has markedly lower vigor than the F1.

I have about 10 or so F1 interspecies hybrids that are Promiscuous x LA2329 Solanum habrochaites. These are growing in two-gallon pots competing with one another and their vigor seems variable from plant to plant.

There seems to be a lot of variation within and between stable tomato varieties for vigor as well. Some seem to have tremendous vigor and others seem to be pretty wispy.

I read recently that Frogsleap farm breeds for vigorous varieties. Hmm I thought. What makes one variety vigorous, and another say pretty wispy or just downright wimpy?

I have the population of my favorite promiscuous project plant from 2021 which I call The One! and it is extremely variable in vigor, and I would not say that any of them are as aggressive as any of the F1 tomatoes I previously mentioned. Does that mean they didn't cross? Or didn't cross with anything with enough heterozygosity for the right traits that they would be aggressively vigorous?

I already get the impression that the (MMS x BH) x Aztek F1 population will be very vigorous. Which is odd because Aztek is such a small plant. Yet I suspect the hybrid has great heterozygosity.

Tomatoes / Tomato Leaf Mold
« on: 2022-05-13, 11:32:50 PM »

Toronjina F1 is a leaf mold resistant tomato variety I just noticed in the Johnny's catalogue. Anyone here suffer from tomato leaf mold? I guess I am not familiar with this particular tomato pathology.

Cucurbits / 2022 Squash
« on: 2022-05-11, 08:43:25 PM »
I planted Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo squashes today.

For Cucurbita moschata I found my original packet of leftover Tetsukabuto F1 seeds so I planted them today with the other Moschata squashes Guatemalan Green Ayote, Autumn's Choice G3, Lofthouse, and the Grex from Mike that included some cool Thai squash though I let it cross with others as will all of these. Oh, I also planted a small amount of Zuchinni rampicante squash the long thin one. I think my main goals with this grex this year is currently to just retain the banded trait from Autumn's choice, the green flesh from Green Ayote, and get some Tetsukabuto seed pollinated definitively by Moschata squash. Hopefully there will be a lot of mixing.

Then for Cucurbita pepo I planted Zephyr, Goldini, Romanesco Costata, Lofthouse Crookneck, Lofthouse Zucchini, and the early Mandan pepo squash originally from Sandhill that I grew with Lofthouse Croockneck and Lofthouse Zucchini last year in the hopes they would cross. Note: my goal with this grex is sort of a Pepo version of what I imagine is being described in the book Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, though that could also have been a Maxima squash. I think Carol's Goldini and its parent Romanesco Costata are appropriate as Carol tested the latter and bred the former for good, dried summer squash flavor inspired by the same book. The Mandan Pepo squash might be of three tribes of the upper Missouri origin, it is certainly early! Then Zephyr adds in the banded trait which might be what the book is talking about when it refers to a certain coloration that made good squash dolls. Lofthouse Crookneck has excellent flavor and Lofthous Zucchini has a good deal of diversity. So hopefully it will make a interesting grex. My plan is to continue to save seeds primarily from the Mandan Pepo squash to use it as the cytoplasm mother. It will be interesting to see this year if there are any obvious hybrids from last year.

I need to rototill a spot better for the Maxima squash.

Sungold F1 and the perhaps closely related Sunsugar F1 are interesting tomatoes to me.

I am also growing some Sungold F1 for the first time in a couple years because I think it is an important flavor standard. Though I almost always at least grow some segregating Sungold descendants.

Last year I noticed a red one in a clump of dehybridizing Sungold and saved some seed.

However, I noticed a post today on Facebook by Frogsleap farm about the Beta allele and it stated that the Beta allele is dominant over red. In the comments below the post someone asked about common ones and the reply was Sungold. So Sungold has a dominant gene for orange. So we should be able to cross Sungold with any other tomato and it should show up as a dominant this Beta allele. So my red F5 Sungold descendant could be a recessive coming out. Now I do not know if there is a red recessive in Sungold F1. A isolated grow out of Sungold followed by a very large F2 growout would show us if that is indeed the case.

You see Sungold is also a fairly common source of an exserted style / stigma. I have found Sungold and Sunsugar plants on more than one occasion at a local hardware store or nursery with really pronounced exsertion.  So I assumed my red one was a new cross and that red was dominant. Not a safe assumption apparently. Oh well I already mixed it into a direct seeding mix- probably would not have knowing this. That said I am still sort of happy to have Sungold and its desegregated or desegregating descendants in my garden. The descendants seem to taste good and I think they are a good addition.

I do think that Sungold F1 and Sunsugar F1 are really pretty decent breeding material. They have good flavor, are early, and because they are so popular it is hard to not find a seed packet or a started plant from a nearby source.

Tomatoes / Brachytic Tomatoes
« on: 2022-05-08, 11:42:31 AM »
Frogsleap farm just posted something on Facebook about their breeding with Brachytic tomatoes that they first encountered on a trip to Japan and there used for greenhouse tomato production. It is a trait that shortens internodes and causes shorter plants. Distinct from rugose leaved dwarfism. Anyone ever hear of it before?

Tomatoes / Solanum pimpinellifolium Currant Tomatoes
« on: 2022-05-01, 11:00:46 AM »
I don't know that we have a Solanum pimpinellifolium thread like we do with some of the other species tomatoes. So this is my attempt at starting one.

Our closest is the thread Reed started on his enviable natural crosses thereof,229.msg2433.html#msg2433

I have been growing Solanum pimpinellifolium or closely related domestic tomatoes for years.

The first varieties I or my family grew of currant tomatoes included tomatoes with names like "sweet 100" and "sweet millions". I also have a Sweet Pea Currant from Territorial in my personal seed bank. One of those volunteered in 2016 along with another tomato giving me the idea for working more with direct seeded tomatoes and is in my personal seed bank as 2016 volunteer pimpinellifolium.

Then Joseph and Andew sent me their strains of Solanum pimpinellifolium and Andrew's proved to be modestly exserted. The original packet mentioned that it might contain crosses- and it still might I haven't grown it all out. I think I have some probable crosses between Andrew's pimpinellifolium and Golden Tresette an exserted type bred by Alan Kapuler though I haven't grown out enough of them to prove that the expected red/yellow segregation is there.

Coyote and Sweet Cherriette which are favorites and I have grown them every year since 2017 are also likely have a lot of Solanum pimpenillifolium ancestry.

This past winter I have obtained seven new to me types of these currant tomatoes and am growing out a small clump of each as well as clumps of each of the others in my personal seed bank. My intention with these is ultimately to make some crosses with domestic tomatoes and to try to add some of their diversity into the domestic gene pool. In fact this is one of the more popular tomato species for introgression breeding by university and commercial plant breeders. That past work means that almost any modern tomato that you should choose to make a cross with probably contains some currant tomato genes. It and its relatives Solanum galapagense and Solanum cheesemanii are supposed to be easy to work with and have no special barriers to crossing with domestic tomatoes. Though despite years of growing them I have relatively few known crosses with them in my seed collection.

With their very small fruit size currant tomatoes tend to be early and when crossed with other early tomatoes their small fruit size and weedy nature combines nicely into varieties like Sweet Cherriette that push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of earliness in a tomato. In the past I have noticed some currant tomato like leaf types in many of the very early modern tomato varieties I have grown, and I suspect many have currant tomato ancestry.

I am also concerned that open-source plant breeders may have trouble in the future accessing the vast diversity of currant tomato accessions available in gene banks. These accessions contain important resistances to tomato diseases.

There are two available OSSI dwarfs Dwarf Johnson's Cherry which is the result of a cross with the Everglades currant tomato and Dwarf Eagle Smiley which is a result of a cross with the Mexico Midget variety of currant tomato. More OSSI currant tomato breeding would probably increase resilience of the OSSI tomato lineup. Efforts are underway to do more of this type of breeding with the Everglades currant tomato in Florida. This type of breeding strikes me as reasonable for multiple problems and regions including short season tomatoes for the North, late blight, brown rugose fruit virus, tomato diseases in general, and just for breeding for tomato diversity to withstand unknown future threats. Also, some varieties or accessions of currant tomato have notably good flavor and may be useful in flavor breeding efforts like the Dwarf Tomato Project which was flavor driven to a large extent. Very small tomatoes are popular with children especially.

Tomatoes / Making More OSSI Anthocyanin Dwarfs
« on: 2022-04-23, 09:46:18 AM »
So I recently got and planted seed today for Dwarf Mocha's Cherry. The only Anthocyanin dwarf in the north American portion of the Dwarf Tomato Project. Patrina has more in Australia that she made.

It occurs to me that Anthocyanin crosses with this dwarf Mocha's Cherry would be stable for Anthocyanin.

So you could make a series of logical Antho x Antho crosses to diversify the Antho dwarfs in North America.

You could cross Antho varieties with any OSSI dwarf but stabilization would take longer.

You could also cross this dwarf Mocha's cherry variety with any or all other dwarfs to make crosses that are immediately dwarf but would still need to segregate for anthocyanin.

Personally I have two non-dwarf Anthocyanin varieties I am working on and this tomato seems like a shortcut to a dwarf anythocyanin version. Also I think some of the spectacular anthocyanin varieties out there would make logical crosses. Like Brad's Atomic Grape.

Plant Breeding / Carrot Breeding
« on: 2022-03-28, 08:29:56 PM »

I was working and couldn't attend this but here is the video looks like. It is a eorganic carrot breeding seminar about an hour and 37 minutes long.

I haven't watched it yet.

My own attempts at carrot breeding would be extinct if not for volunteers. It strikes me as a limited grex. I also have Joseph's carrot landrace which I grew for seed for snake river last year and which is also a component of my own volunteering grex.

Tomatoes / Ukrainian, Soviet, and Russian Tomatoes
« on: 2022-03-27, 09:39:10 PM »
I think I have planted a few seeds of each of my collection of Ukrainian, Soviet, and Russian Tomatoes listed below for 2022. I didn't carefully curate my list so it may include some mistakes and I may have left out some. I am thinking about Soviet tomatoes a lot lately because of the war in Ukraine. I am reminded of the story of Bill McDorman bringing back some tomatoes from the Soviet Union. I am also reminded of how Soviet people were big gardeners. I wonder how things are going for Ukrainian and Russian seed companies and gardeners.

0-33 - might be another of Saraev's tomates
Amurski Tigr - Ukrainian and the father of my exserted tiger
Ararat flame
Saraev I-2
Saraev M-22
Saraev Shtambovyi
Saraev Druzhnyi
Stupice also known as Stupike
Micro Dwarf Monetka
Jagodka Earl's Strain
Jagodka tomato Joseph Lofthouse strain which seems to be a different tomato from Earl's strain
Kibits - Ukrainian
Krainiy Sever

Community & Forum Building / Garden Journal
« on: 2022-03-27, 08:14:55 PM »
I think we need some general garden musings type threads. So starting one here.

I rototilled today and yesterday. The soil is in good tilth. I think the April dry period normal to my area has started.

Tomatoes / Aromatic modern tomatoes coming
« on: 2022-03-08, 07:32:15 AM »

So they found a pathway in Solanum penellii that will allow tomato breeders to ID lines that actually taste good amongst modern tomatoes. Interesting.

Tomatoes / Tomatoes that need started early
« on: 2022-02-19, 04:23:00 PM »
We thought a few years ago at least that it was beneficial to start some species tomatoes like Solanum habrochaites early.

Some dwarf tomato afficianados start some of those early.

I saw on his website that Craig Lehoullier already started his Mexican Midget strain of Solanum pimpinillifolium he thinks tastes real good.

Which species / varieties do you all reckon on starting early?

I'm getting a little anxious to start a flat. Might throw in some of those egg plant seeds.

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