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Messages - grokrathegreen

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A good number of my seed lines I am saving this season are from volunteers. A lion share of my main garden failed this season, and with it several breeding lines I was trying to expand. The biggest emotional loss there was a deviant runner bean I was rather fond of with particularly large brown mottled beans, so it goes.

A smaller more intensive garden I have there were a lot of plants that came up from a neglected compost pile. Most importantly I had a good crop of cucumbers with great taste come up, and a common pole bean with particularly nice large pods. Also in my drive way I had four melon plants come up from where I cleaned out a wheel barrel of last years field neglected melons. As my main melon patch failed those plants were this years melon crop. Three of the melon plants were good, but not special. One however was fantastically flavorful and rich, so it will be the backbone of next years melon planting I am thinking. There is also a few really good chard plants which have become endemic in my garden, a friend gave me beet seeds years ago, which to my initial disappointment were actually chard, I got over the disappointment when I decided they were the best tasting and most succulent chard I have grown. I just harvested a 12 pound chard head from one of then with stems as wide as my hand. I am hoping the seed I saved from last years chard breed true, but there were beet seeds I was saving in the area, so I might have to work to untangle that.

There are weedy ground cherries which I am not particularly fond of that I need to be more through in killing back for a couple seasons lest they make a move to take over.

None of my weedy crops do I think of as great seed, but since alot of my choice seed died in a bad field, I am glad for natures own back ups on several things.

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So of all the things I might feel a tickle to post here about, I am picturing a dart board, from a bullseye in the middle something very focused on the biology and genetics of crops. Then right around that the broader aspects of what we want from our crops, either in how they are of use or desirable to us, or in how they could be breed to be easier and more reliable in getting to that end.

Going out a little bit more we could talk about the demand for an open source breeding project. I'll give you an example of what I mean: I like to grow chard that gets really big and stays tender, think one pound leafs still succulent and sweet. Most of the chard seed desired in my county is for growing various greens mixes, so the point is to make consistent chard for mow harvesting by the time it's hand tall. That is because of the tastes of the people in my community who bring the money to the markets. So, in picking out what chard seeds to work with, it can be a house divided, because to best provide for farmers chasing the dollars I would want to be very focused on certain traits, which are compatible with, but different in priority, the traits I want to pick for my own table. Similar with talking about cooking, nutrition, and the economics of the food world. So this is a wider ring on that target, not so much about how to breed a plant, but getting kinda out there into why to breed one way or another. Climate, local irrication politics, cost of different inputs, all that threatens to drag in baggage.

Beyond that, we are each people more or less united by an interest in plant breeding, but trying to follow that interest in the ecology our our own lives. Personally I am very interested in the topic of how to keep a breeding project going into the headwinds of life's confusion, but its way on the outside of that dart board. To me, valuable because those issues (keeping friends willing to host my plants, bartering seeds to farmers, finding the good manure for a garden) are all bigger factors on what plants evolve into the niche I am trying to hold open than the core issues of genetics or even desirable crops.

I guess if I were in charge I would want a group of boards about plants being breed, for threads on projects for specific crops. Cucumber thread, drought hardy tomato thread, a thread for a high omega3 corn mutant somebody things they found; whatever.
Then a board about what we want to do with plants and why, basically talking about the ecosystem that the plant is being bread to thrive in. So the niche for lettuce to grow in Colorado against all good sense. What traits a good green house plant needs. And finally a board for talking about our personal situations and our breeder ambitions, and the successes and failure that happen there.

As for off topic, I would say that once the politics or what have you is about how people who ain't either us or the folks our seeds and crops go to had ought to act, think, speak, or feel then that's a red flag for off topic. A social or political topic is only material to the extent that it is actively influencing our decisions and priorities as plant breeders.

That's what would make sense to me.

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Community & Forum Building / Re: Welcome and Introduce Yourself!
« on: 2018-10-15, 04:08:23 PM »
Thank's Richard, basically I was given access to an acre of underutilized land by a buddy neighbor, so I planted most of it using zai pit gardens. Things were going decent, until I noticed that excluding a few spots most of the area started coming up with super distorted leafs; stretched and curled and weird; like they were from the nightmares of Dr. Seuss. Come to find out that the land had been sprayed with herbicides none too long ago, but my buddy didn't know about it, because with extended social groups its hard to keep track of everybody. I don't know exactly what the herbicide is, but suspect it to be in the Aminopyralid family. The corn still produced, and in the gaps in the original spraying I managed to get enough surviving plants to keep the gene lines developing, but most Cucurbitoideae and legumes were complete crop failures.

I am hopeful most of what I want to breed for next year I can raise at the organic farms I work for, but for certain crops not profitable at a market garden scale I might still need to sort something else out.

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Community & Forum Building / Re: Welcome and Introduce Yourself!
« on: 2018-10-15, 08:19:44 AM »
Howdy I am a seed dabbler in the South West corner of Colorado, Dolores Colorado. Open source and locally tailored seeds are, to my mind, a very basic part of regional culture and local economy. This fall I am recovering from a pretty tough growing season, between a serious drought, and trying to farm land with serious soil contamination I got fewer seeds back than I planted for most crops, but still managed to get about a dozen breeding projects to make a little forward momentum.

I have an oodle of seeds from a few volunteer Muskmelons which showed up in my drive way and proved to have greatly superior flavor to their parents generation. I now have more than a pound of carrot seed descended from the best of the pinch of Lofthouse seeds I started with. Found some lettuce types I really liked. Put up a mess of seeds from a feral basil grex I grew to try starting a basil landrace. Expanded seed from a cultivar of amaranth I rather like. And got one more generation of selection closer to a sweet corn that might be reliable enough to provide as seed to other farmers. Then onions, sweet potato, tobacco, hazel nut, okra, beet, garbanzos, lentils, spinach, chard, mustard, orach, sunflower, millet, and tomatillos all took a step forward. Really, it wasn't a terrible year, but very far short of the aspirations.

Almost all of my new world bean lines are on thin legs as the seed planted mostly perished in the contaminated soil, and a couple phenotypes I had found in 2016 may be extinct now. The squash varieties I was playing with, out of a half dozen lines and hundreds of mounds I have three fruits. Cukes, melons, tomatos, peppers, flour corn, kale, all went bust this season.

At present I am mulling over how much to bite off for breeding next year, considering that for more that a hand full of species I can breed in my 20 by 20 personal garden I need to borrow land from a friendly neighbor. After the 90% failure of this years garden, and the  realization that more than 50% success would have overwhelmed me on harvest work, I am wary of what yo bite off for next season to run personally.

Not being landed, most of my employment is in the harvest crew for local organic market gardens, so I am trying to orchestrate breeding plants based on collecting seeds from the best champion grade products of other farms, something of a multi farm seed coop for the county. The details are vague, but since I work at more than three farms in a season, and maintain friendly relations with half a dozen more, I think I could generate more seeds by out sourcing the growing to those farms, and working myself to process the seeds for the various grows. Then depending on what each farm grew for the project they get shares in the total seed hall.

Sorry, that's all over the place for an introduction, but showing y'all a tangled mess of dreams and half baked experiments shows a pretty true picture of me, and that's kinda with an introduction is about.

Raymond Wharton of Dolores

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