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Topics - triffid

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Allium / Softneck Garlic Flowering
« on: 2020-05-15, 02:27:48 PM »
A neighbour kindly gave me some of their extra garlic bulbs this past autumn. They are a softneck variety named 'Marco'. I planted a small bed of these in around November (didn't keep a record), and a larger bed of a different softneck variety named 'Messidrome' a couple weeks later. As soon as they started growing I noticed the Messidrome are more vigorous, with thicker pseudostems and larger leaves. Marco pseudostems are by comparison about 60-70% diameter.
This evening while watering I noticed around half a dozen Marco plants have developed scapes.
No scapes on the Messidrome. As far as I'm aware, softnecks don't bolt unless the stars align. What might have caused this? We had a mild, extremely wet winter, and are currently experiencing a very dry spring. Should I keep the scapes for potential seed? I've read the methodology for forcing true garlic seed on Homegrown Goodness, but I recall this was for hardneck garlic in particular.

Legumes / Colourful runner beans and interspecific crosses
« on: 2020-02-26, 09:35:41 AM »
Runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus, are a garden and allotment staple of the British summer.  They thrive in the cool and wet weather of the Isles, and struggle to set fruit properly in hot and dry spells.
However, with climate change, that characteristic cool and wet is not necessarily guaranteed anymore.
Runner beans are also boringly green.

Tozer Seeds has bred a number of runner beans with ‘French bean genetics’ that set in hotter, dryer weather and self-pollinate without insect aid.
These are boringly green too, and I’d like to change that.

‘Aeron Purple Star’ is a purple-podded runner bean discovered by (and available from) Aeron Vale Allotments Trust Chairman, Gwilym ab Ioan, in a crop of ‘Polestar’. 
It has since grown true and is said to be extremely vigorous, stringless, and superior to ‘Polestar’ in flavour and tenderness.
Whether this variety is the result of a mutation or cross is unknown.

I suspect it is a mutation for the following reasons. There are extremely few purple-podded runner bean varieties with which this variety could have inherited its genetics.
I only know of three sorts; ‘Black Pod’ and ‘Chapman’s Purple’, kept by the Heritage Seed Library, and one which translates to ‘Blue Pod’, available from a Danish grower.
I’m also doubtful that ‘APS’  is the result of an intrageneric cross with P. vulgaris. Perhaps not impossible, but I have read that without embryo rescue it is unlikely to develop viable offspring with P. vulgaris as the pollen parent.

However, as one of Tozer’s newly bred self-setting runner beans, the ‘APS’ progenitor ‘Polestar’ may have P. vulgaris genetics, and if so it may be more receptive to P. vulgaris pollen.
‘APS’ could in fact be the result of a cross with a purple-podded French bean, nullifying my previous reasoning.

So, there are a lot of unknowns and suppositions, but this year I will attempt to make a start on unraveling some of these mysteries:
  • I am hoping to find out if anthocyanin expression in the pod is dominant, co-dominant or incompletely dominant by crossing ‘APS’ with green runner beans. There's a variety called 'Yardstick' that has purple striping.
  • I will attempt to test whether the P. coccineus x P. vulgaris varieties bred by Tozer set viable seed when subsequently pollinated by P. vulgaris. There are many of these runners available in the UK - this year I will be making crosses with ‘Moonlight’, ‘Firestorm’, ‘White Lady’, and ‘Wey’, but also on the market are ‘Aurora’, ‘Celebration’, ‘Firelight’, ‘Saint George’, ‘Snowstorm’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Sunset’, ‘Tenderstar’ and ‘Snowdrift’.
  • Veitch’s Wonder’ is a vulgaris x coccineus dwarf green bean of J. Veitch & Sons, 1910, that I will be using in some experiments as a ‘bridge’ between the two species. The seeds of this variety bear striking resemblance to runner beans.

I’ll be making crosses to the Tozer runners with yellow, red and purple-podded French beans. Also crossing the Tozer runners with common runner beans to see if the F1 progeny is receptive to vulgaris pollen.

There are experts and professionals on this forum who have the knowledge to correct my mistakes and point me in the right direction regarding this project, perhaps even to make most of the experiments unnecessary.
What is unknown to me is likely common knowledge in literature, but I haven’t yet found the studies. Any advice and comments, as always, are greatly appreciated.

OSSI pledged varieties / Sweet Meat - Oregon Homestead
« on: 2019-12-28, 07:01:37 PM »
I left a few plants to fend for themselves this summer, virgin ground, no amendments, no irrigation, less than ideal position under a willow tree. Slugs loved the young plants. Those that made it aborted a few medium-sized fruit but one matured fully to 6kg.
Left it to cure for nearly 3 months, opened it up around Dec 20th. As described; dry flesh, flattened seed cavity, fat seeds (counted 300). Halved and roasted it face down as per instructions in The Resilient Gardener.
Used 1kg for soup and froze the rest for later. Tastes absolutely divine, flavoursome, rich, very sweet. Almost too sweet for the savory soup - I think most recipes account for a lower quality pumpkin.  10/10 will grow again. Would be nice to start afresh with some foundation grade seed, stock from one plant's one small fruit isn't ideal but I'll be planting them for eating nonetheless.
Now thinking about what I have left in the freezer.. pie recipes anyone?

Grains / Golden Rice
« on: 2019-10-26, 04:26:28 PM »

I first heard of Golden Rice many years ago, but haven't been following its progress. Ed Regis's book is free on Google Play and now on my winter reading list.

Important to note, Regis states in the first chapter that the variety was essentially public domain after 2004. 'Golden Rice was unique among genetically engineered foods, and the properties that made it different also made it immune to many of the conventional criticisms of GMOs-'
'The rice would benefit the poor and disadvantaged, not modern, multinational corporations. It would be given free of charge to subsistence farmers who can save seeds and plant them from one harvest to the next, without restriction or payment of fees or royalties'.

Plant Breeding / Bean phenotypes
« on: 2019-10-18, 08:05:00 AM »
Is there a database for Phaseolus phenotypes? Similar to the JIC Pisum Gene List, for example.

Legumes / Rebsie's Red-Podded Peas
« on: 2019-08-11, 05:51:56 PM »
The eminent Rebsie Fairholm has posted an update regarding her most recent advancements in the quest for the red mangetout.

Many congratulations to her and how bloody exciting!!

Plant Breeding / Twin bean pods
« on: 2019-07-10, 01:51:54 PM »
I've spotted a couple of strange pods on a dwarf French bean. There appears to be two pods, conjoined at the top, emerging from the same flower. What's happening here?

Pics to follow tomorrow.

Plant Breeding / Breeding on the Downs
« on: 2019-06-24, 09:52:17 AM »
Since May I’ve commenced tenancy of half an acre of chalk downland. My mandate is to breed locally adapted food crops and aid in the conservation of endangered heritage varieties.

The site requires a lot of work. Left unmanaged for around 4 years, the nettles are taller than me and their rhizomes have formed an near-impenetrable web.

I’ve attempted to mow and cover with weed-suppressant membrane with little success. The most labour-intensive method seems to have the greatest effect - hack away at the ground with various mattocks and hoes, pulling up the rhizomes by hand. Three weeks of heavy rain and sunshine and nothing has returned, and very few weed seedlings have sprouted, so I shall continue.

The wildlife is diverse and abundant. I’ve encountered slow-worms, damselflies, thick-legged flower beetles, shrews, orchids, rabbits, foxes, and many, many spiders. They scurry away in a wave for every step I take. Found plenty of evidence of moles, and sighted buzzards and kestrels. Some earthworms, but less than I was anticipating. There are plenty more species reported in the area, and to the south of the site is an excellent butterfly meadow.

Circumstances have prevented planting of many planned crops this season.
Only a pair of pumpkins and a few summer squash have survived the recent slugpocalypse. Growth is slow so I believe the majority of available nitrogen has been sapped by the nettles. These will have to be composted carefully. As patches of ground are cleared I’ll sow a cover of sainfoin and bee pasture and focus on cultivation in autumn and next spring.

Off-site I’ve begun work on peas, tomatoes, broad beans and Phaseolus.
Olaf very kindly sent me a big bag Magic Manna corn that I had intended to grow this year. I think it may be too late but I’ll plant a small block to see how they get on in this environment.

Plenty more to share and discuss; will keep this updated.

Edit: Added photos from May 3rd. Had done a little strimming at this point. Everything is a lot bigger now.

Tomatoes / Dwarf Tomato Project Lines
« on: 2019-06-06, 10:40:00 AM »
Have the pedigrees of the Dwarf Tomato Project varieties been published? I see mention of certain lines that varieties have been selected from, e.g. 'Dopey'.

Would be good to know their ancestry in preparation for further breeding work.

Plant Breeding / Orange Cauliflower CMS
« on: 2019-04-10, 11:42:00 PM »
I'd like to start working on an op orange cauliflower, but it would appear Sunset F1 and Cheddar F1 carry CMS. Are there any orange cauliflower varieties without this trait?

OSSI pledged varieties / Outredgeous in Suttons Catalogue
« on: 2019-03-20, 01:19:38 PM »
Suttons Seeds over here in the UK has listed Outredgeous lettuce in their spring catalogue and online.

Which is a big deal! They're one of the most well-known garden supply companies in Britain...
Sadly it would seem they've conveniently omitted the OSSI-Pledge and any other relevant information.

Plant Breeding / Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« on: 2019-02-05, 10:59:56 PM »
It would be interesting to know from the indie plant breeding community how much land one uses to breed, select and proliferate the seed of new varieties. I'd imagine the area varies quite a lot depending on location, crop and desired outcomes. Would any be willing to give a newbie some insight?

I've been aiming for around 1/2 acre for a 'living gene-bank' - for the conservation and re-breeding of some heritage legumes, potatoes and flax to be adapted to the local climate and able to thrive in the new extremes.  Is this a feasible size to start with?

Many thanks in advance.

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