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Messages - reed

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1
This is a very interesting project alright, I'm really getting a kick out of being involved. I suppose the goal would be 90+% of seed sown producing an acceptable crop yield, tubers close to stem, taste while still been a good seed producer.
Now don't be gettin too far ahead of things, right now I'm shooting for 50% in short term at least. I already have some that are pretty close to the other criteria but need to grow them in isolation with themselves to find out self compatibility and the like, lots more along those lines to do, not sure there even is an end to that tunnel, let alone a light at it.
Be interesting to see what happens over the coming year with the colours, will they merge or still throw the variables like at present   
I hope they keep the color variability and think they will for at least a good long time. Just too many things not in the original parents have sown up to think they will easily settle into something fixed. Or maybe I'll find various ones reasonably stable for a particular color combination / flavor, that would be sweet. 




2
Plant Breeding / Re: Sunflower - Giant Russian.
« on: Yesterday at 06:39:54 AM »
O' yea, I forgot about gold finches. We have so many of them and titmouses  that I think they may actually provide a beneficial amount of manure. Although I don't like having to wash it off stuff.

My sunflowers selected themselves into multiple small flowered types. It kind of amazes me that any seeds survive the birds but some always come up each spring.

3
I changed the name of this thread to better reflect my ultimate goal. Sweet potatoes that reliably produce food and seeds, from seed, in 100 days or less.

Achieving that will meet my needs of a staple food crop that requires no special storage requirements, that can provide food from harvest easily until the following planting time. It may even be possible to store food quality roots all the way till the next harvest, I intend to test that limit this year.

Reliable seed production insures the next years crop in the event all stored roots are eaten or lost. Innate longevity of sweet potato seeds adds an additional layer to food security. Sweet potatoes are or have potential to be a nearly perfect small scale, sustainable, staple food crop. Breeding for short maturity time moves this potential into regions not ordinarily know for sweet potato production and more importantly in my case, increases chances of a successful harvest in the event of adverse weather or other detrimental events.

So, I'm getting exited about starting this years crop. I think this makes the 6th season since I discovered my first sweet potato seeds and it has been really fun finding all the new kinds that have showed up from the original crosses. All of my houseplant clones are looking great and all of my saved roots have kept nicely. In about a month I'll be sprouting slips.

I have I think eight new ones this year, a couple from the grocery store, a couple local ones gifted from other gardeners and some I ordered which should arrive in May. I'll be planting them all in 3 - 5 gallon pots to test for my preferred "clump root" trait. They will all be trellised this year to help protect from rabbits and make seed collection easier.

I'm gonna grow a few of each kind and dig some, starting maybe as early as July so I can compare root size and storage ability at different stages. I discovered that large roots can be removed and the plant replanted without significant reduction in seeds. Also gonna do more experimenting with eating the greens.

Still struggling with my decision, due to space constraints to not start any new seeds. I'm not sure I can stand to do that and since I also want them to not be picky about germination conditions I will probably sow at least a hundred or so in the cold frame like I do tomatoes. Any that sprout quick in those conditions will be kept even if I have to scale back on some other project to make room. 

4
Plant Breeding / Re: Sunflower - Giant Russian.
« on: 2019-03-23, 05:49:06 AM »
Our little titmouse birds would clean those out in a few minutes, I think they prefer hanging upside down when they eat. 

5
I really like the look of #6 and sounds like it might have the clump root trait I like. Those in Mike's picture have nice shape, I like the sort of bulbous ones, they are easy to dig. The white one is interesting. I'v had two or three white ones show up but didn't keep them cause they were not very good bloomers and roots were puny. Too bad cause they tasted very good. I do have one saved from last year that is the first white one to make a larger root and it was a better bloomer. It isn't really as large as should be but it has stored fine so I'll probably start a couple from it.

I'v also discarded some all purple ones for same reasons, plus the purple are the only ones I'v seen so far that had any disease or bug issues in the roots.

Shows how diverse they are I guess cause neither of those were in the original parents. Richard, did you not get any seeds this year?


6
Plant Breeding / Re: Salsify
« on: 2019-03-22, 03:23:25 PM »
I'm tired of waiting so I'm gonna go out tomorrow and plant stuff! Salsify, radish, mustard, lettuce, what ever else I find when I dig in to the seed chest this evening.

Really looking forward to seeing what the salsify is and how it tastes, will also be on the lookout for the wind kind growing around. I'm afraid I won't recognize it till it's blooming but I remember pretty close to where some is, maybe I'll get lucky and find it early on and transplant some. I bet form description of how it grows it might not be an easy transplant, specially in spring or summer but as long as I find plenty I'll give it a go.

7
O'no not at all like potatoes. I think in tropical climate they are actually perennial but if it gets anyway near freezing I imagine they would ruin and croak, even if mulched. I don't know that for sure though. I'v sure of it here though, it gets way too cold. They also can't be stored cold, like in refrigerator, ruins the flavor and texture.  Just put em in a box and shove em under the bed or something. I have had a few get wrinkled or dry in storage but only ones I ever had rot were some the woman put in a plastic bag.

I'm really just guessing also that root growth stops as foliage growth does, just kind of makes sense. Another way they are different from potatoes, a sweet potato is actually a root rather than a tuber or at least I think that is so. The roots, assuming you got some nice sized ones and I hope you did will keep inside for months during which you can eat some whenever you want and save back a few to start new plants from the next spring.

If they only made stringy roots but you want to keep them because of blooming ability you have to keep cuttings as house plants. If you have warm sunny window you might even still get seeds this year by taking cuttings from the ones still blooming inside and hand pollinating.  I about always get a few more seeds inside in the fall. Even ones that make crappy, stringy roots are good to keep as they might be the ones that cross to your local ones.

Once you have that cross all kinds of interesting new ones will start popping up!

8
I don't know of anything that is easier to sprout, any growing tip 3 - 4 inches long can just be chopped off and rooted. It's just speculation but I bet if the weather has cooled to where above ground growth has slowed the roots probably are't growing either. You can also dig the plants, remove the big storage roots and pot up or replant the whole thing.

By waiting to harvest you may be on the way to answering a question I have. That is, is there a point where a root is past mature? I mean is there a point it is good to eat or store after which it gets woody, or pithy or starts sprouting new shoots or something? I suspect that might be the case but I haven't done the experiments to see for sure.

9
Plant Breeding / Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (early stage)
« on: 2019-03-20, 03:21:43 AM »
Lauren, you say you are starting in green house to extend growing time. Where are you located, is your growing season generally considered too short or cool  for sweet potatoes?

10
It is also more consistently warm in the bath room but I also suspect the humidity is what encouraged sprouting. I think overall they are very forgiving of varied conditions. 

11
Plant Breeding / Re: Quality Ornamental / Food Crops
« on: 2019-03-18, 08:56:47 AM »
I generally bury the stalks usually with a little chicken poo for the next crop to grow on, whatever it might be. I might sell stalks or stalks with the ears still on but they would be very, very high dollar to make it worth it to me to replace the organic material.

12
Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-18, 06:23:11 AM »
I didn't know what Allium fistulosum is so looked it up and I think we already have some over in the woman's flower garden, I'll bring some over to plant by the walking onions.

My main bulbing onion patch is a mix of potato onions from a grower in Minnesota and Joseph's landrace mix, and some that evolved from store bought bulbs that I just planted one fall to see what happened. I'v selected them all for winter hardiness and ability to self propagate by whatever means they choose. Most make seeds, a few make top sets and most multiply by clumping of little bulbs. 

The best flavored are light pink color and kind of oblong shaped, pretty sure they came from Joseph's seeds. They make very nice clumps of pencil sized bulbs that grow a lot bigger if divided and replanted in spring. If done in fall they rot and start over with a new clump of three or four little ones. They are the only ones I'v singled out into their own little spot cause they tastes so good. Larger ones harvested for storage don't keep at all, bummer. 

I guess I just have a fascination with the wild ones and hope mostly to get some crosses to them. All the rest can just keep doing what they want and I'll keep planting the seeds. I don't really save seeds, I plant them pretty much immediately when they mature and keep the ones that are still alive the next spring. These wild ones I found since they just have a few flowers per plant will be the easiest for me to try actual hand pollination and surely something else in the patch will bloom with them.

I have got a few seeds from my old walking onions in past few seasons and wonder if pollen form some of the others is responsible for that. I figure any really cool new ones will reveal themselves eventually.

14
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.

I have some pretty close to that growing on the window sill right now. Can't do much snacking on them cause conditions in my house are pretty poor for sweet potatoes or any tropical houseplant. Just keeping them alive has been the goal but I do notice some stay happier looking through the cold dark days of winter than others. They are all perking up now that it is warmer and have been outside on days over 60, even those that looked bad are growing nicely now. It works out pretty good cause you end up with bare stem with new growth on the tips which allows allows for rooting new plants that have not been in contact with soil. A couple have tried to bloom intermittently, in a warmer brighter house they might bloom all winter.

I'm not sure but sweet potatoes may like it in some shade. Especially those with dark purple leaves often wilt pretty dramatically in hot afternoon sun. I finally figured out that just cause they like it hot doesn't necessarily mean they like full sun. It probably depends on where you live. In a cooler place full sun, in a hotter place some afternoon shade might be better.  In my experience so far I haven't seen it make a dramatic difference in production or in blooming. I'm moving mine this year to the end of the garden where it goes in shade about 4 PM or so.

I'm finding that other than being slightly less cold tolerant than tomatoes, sweet potatoes are very adaptable and sturdy plants. I have a lot of them and I've had to discard a lot that might have been great ones to go on with for ornamental or eatable leaves cause I just don't have room to keep them all so I have mostly focused on my primary goal of a line that reliably produces good food from seed. 

It happened a little by accident but I do kinda now have two basic kinds. Seed production ability is still the most important so when I originally kept those that did that but that did not make big roots the only way to do it was as houseplants. So now I have the rooters + seeders saved  mostly just as roots and the non-rooters saved as plants.

Some of those sprouted from seed more than a year ago and have been cloned since, so some of last year's new ones for example were descended from them. I'm adding new purchased clones into the mix this year and am going to try to focus on getting their genes into my grex so won't be starting as many seeds this year.

So this year:
I want to mix in as much new material as possible from several new commercial clones.
Produce as many seeds as possible from my old lines, hopefully in the thousands.
Establish better naming conventions and keep better records.

In future I want to divide the lines into the root group. Defined as reliably producing big roots (from seed).
And the ornamental / eatable group, defined as having beautiful eatable foliage and lots of flowers.

The two lines will eventually have to be maintained separately because some of the ornamental / eatable group while having what I call the super bloomer trait, make very few seeds and no large roots. I can't assume that because they don't make seeds that they don't make pollen so they will have to be kept separate so as not to degrade the big root quality of the other group.

I want any particular seed from the root group to have a 50% or higher chance of making big roots. I'm estimating that chance now from any of my seeds, at 10% but think that's low. Another thing I want to keep better track of moving forward. Actually I can do that this year with what seeds I do start. I'll accurately record % germ under my conditions and the % of those that make big roots. Of course both numbers might be different if more controlled germination practices were used but I want lines that don't need tight germination conditions. 



15
Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-16, 02:17:03 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.

The Allium canadense that I found and the ones I saw pictures of just have three or four flowers per plant, sticking up among the bulbils. Shouldn't be too hard, fat stubby fingers and bifocal glasses aside to just emasculate all the flowers and remove most of the bulbils too. I'll dump on pollen from what ever else happens to be blooming, hopefully it will be the old top sets but anything in the other patch will do in a pinch.

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