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Messages - Woody Gardener

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"I have a theory too that maybe one reason small populations of corn are so prone to depression is because a higher percentage of the seeds are selfed, that is the mother and father are the same plant. I fight that by detasseling particular plants that for what ever reason I favor as a mother plant. Then I try to pollinate it with several others that have good traits. Those plants then make a high % of the next season planting."

I agree but rather than detasseling I grow 3 white 'Moonshiner' corns that are heat and drought resistant and grow well in poor, heavy soils like mine. They are 120 days seed to harvest and lack the phytonutrients and high protein and oil of colored varieties in orange, blue/black, and Harmony Grain that are 80-110 day corns.

White is recessive to all colors so any colored kernels on the white 'Moonshiner' cobs are a cross.

Plant Breeding / Re: Looking for seeds for a "cob melon"
« on: 2020-04-27, 05:43:40 AM »
A 'cob' watermelon may have a physiological rather than a genetic cause.

A few years ago I abandoned a watermelon patch of mixed varieties in a drought in July and August. September brought an abundance of rain and a vine in the patch greened up and stated growing. When I looked at it there was a small, oval watermelon. I let it grow till the 'knock, knock' test indicated it was ripe at about 6-8 lbs. I cut it open lengthwise and was astounded that all the seeds were in the center much like a cantaloupe. The thick flesh was red and sweet. I saved the seeds and most were infertile the next year. Those that grew had seeds that were normally placed for a watermelon.

I was looking for diverse sources of landrace seeds in small quantities and came across this Etsy store:

He has some impressive photos of his different offerings. I'm surprised that I can't find any more info about his farm online.  Of course, not everyone is on internet plant-breeding message boards, I guess!

Hello Mike!

I bought several packs of Landrace Okra from you many months ago. I'm ready to plant them soon along with Kandahar Pendi Landrace Okra and my long time favorite Burmese to develop my own locally adapted, genetically diverse okra.

I went looking for that great picture of your okra and, funny thing, somehow or another I ended up here.  Thanks for the seeds and I'll post back here in a few months with my own pictures.

Plant Breeding / Re: Watermelon seed leaf size
« on: 2020-04-21, 06:46:36 AM »
Does anyone know if seed leaf size is significant to the size of the eventual watermelon? I have two distinct seed leaf sizes and I'm trying to eliminate the descendants of the Sugar Baby from my watermelon landrace. They grow very slowly but are usually the first to get male blossoms (therefore cross pollinate) and the fruit comes on very late.

A quick aside. Sugar Baby was the first watermelon I grew because it was so over hyped by the seed companies. After I tried other melons I quickly dropped SB as worthless in my garden.

"I want to get started with grain corn, but have never done anything with it before. Do any of you have advice as to how to start, what varieties might do well with little care, flint vs flour, what would happen if I bought whole grain grinding corn or popcorn and planted it, etc? I'm sort on funds, thus the attraction of buying corn meant for eating (or chicken feed!) and growing it. Would I just get a big jump start on landrace starting? If I was concerned about GMO contamination (I'm not sure if I am) are there any GMO flint corns?"

I have been growing some heirloom dent corns for some time. 3 'moonshiner corns' noted for their ability to grow and produce despite heat, drought, and poor soil: Jellicorse Twin, Neil's Paymaster, and Looney along with Blue Clarage for anthocyanin. This year I'm adding Joseph Lofthouse's Harmony Grain corn.

White is recessive to all colors so I select any colored kernels growing on the moonshine corns. I am growing a lot this year to share seeds with my neighbors as I suspect they will be asking for seed in a few months.

Grains / Re: Naked Barley!
« on: 2020-04-06, 08:31:53 PM »
I have poor, heavy soil in zone 6b/7a and look for plants that are productive on my soil just as it is. I have garden space available for winter wheat and have found several varieties that are productive for me. Currently my favorite is Yamhill.

Last year I tried 9 varieties of barley hoping to find one that would fit in the same garden time slot as Yamhill. I got a nice harvest of Yamhill wheat in June. Total harvest of barley planted at the same time = 0. Oh,well!

I know you're planting barley in the spring but I thought I'd just add my barley experience.

Seed Saving / Re: Flour moths and seed storage
« on: 2020-02-17, 07:04:07 AM »
Half-price post-Christmas European cookies in big metal tins, just sayin'!

I don't know how they do it but 'pantry moths' can get in canning jars that are not screwed down very tight. The few extra dollars for the ammo boxes are worthwhile to me.

Seed Saving / Re: Flour moths and seed storage
« on: 2020-02-17, 06:33:10 AM »
I lost some important seeds to 'pantry moths' several years ago. They can make holes in plastic bags. Also lost some to mice that are able to chew through plastic containers. I bought 4 metal ammo boxes from Harbor Freight for $8 each, stack-able, waterproof, fireproof, bug and animal proof. Price is now $12 but still a bargain IMHO.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Deer Fencing
« on: 2020-01-22, 08:49:02 AM »
I fought deer for years in my woodland garden before finding my fencing solution. I discovered that deer are smart, much more intelligent than horses. Once they've tasted beans or other delectables in the garden they will keep probing till they get in. I tried electric fencing and that worked most of the time. Smearing peanut butter on strips of aluminum foil and hanging it on the wire was fun. I didn't know how far deer could jump backwards! Unfortunately they seem to know when the battery is dead or a limb has fallen across the wire.

The fence that has worked for several years: I made posts from 6 ft. metal stakes from Lowe's and drove them about 14-18 inches in the ground. I used a drill to attach them to 2"x4"x8' boards that had long screws angled upward at 6, 7, and 8 feet. I ran 5 ft. green metal fencing from the farmers co-op around them and also a few tree trunks and secured it with nails and screws. I put up barbed wire at 6, 7, and 8 ft. I had to replace a couple of broken 8 ft. boards where the deer broke them in testing the fence the first year. I've had no problems since. As I said deer are smart.

Seed Saving / Re: Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« on: 2020-01-14, 02:42:00 PM »
'You may be subject to civil or criminal penalties'
For a while I was worried about Customs knocking on my door!  ;D

I planted 25 of each goji variety in 2" square pots in a standard tray outside about 2 weeks after the last frost. I put a clear plastic dome over the tray just before sunset and took it off about noon when the soil temperature reached 80 degrees.

I was out of Jiffy seed starter mix so I used a mixture of (approx.) 60% coir and 40% Schultz Premium potting mix. Germination was about 90%.

Seed Saving / Customs destroyed my seed order from Britain.
« on: 2020-01-14, 08:36:36 AM »
I ordered 2 varieties of black goji berries and pre-stratified black currants from Plant World Seeds this spring and was very pleased at the quick germination. I put in a larger order in December and got an empty package with a note from the US Customs that said: Prohibited Material Removed and Destroyed.

I sent an email to PWS with the information in the note and a comment that I was not asking for reimbursement. Within hours I got an email back that said they were refunding my money and added the following comment:
"I'm sorry your seeds were intercepted.  By the letter of the law when buying retail packets of seeds you should apply for a small seed permit and labels from USDA.  These are sent to you and you then send them on to us (email is acceptable). We enclose the permit and fix the labels onto the outside of the envelope in which we send the seeds. The parcel then goes to the USDA testing station and finally onto you.

This is a link to the government’s page that might be helpful, as well as the mailing process and shipping label requirements:

We do not supply Phytosanitary certificates as all our seeds are purchased from reputable wholesalers in the UK all of whom have their own certifications; plus we supply only small quantities in retail packets.  To obtain a certificate would take many weeks and is very expensive as each sample of seeds would have to be tested here by our Ministry of Agriculture; as our suppliers have already done that before selling us their seeds we consider it unnecessary.
In reality thousands of US gardeners buy seeds from abroad from companies such as EBay & Amazon and don't use the permit system as the border authorities, in the main, tend to turn a blind eye. I'd say most are let through with no trouble - it seems you've been one of the unlucky ones.

Tomatoes / Re: Tomato Microbiome article
« on: 2019-12-24, 10:19:56 AM »
"Endophytic diazatrophs. Nitrogen fixing bacteria that inhabit leaves all over the place! The research is still in its infancy but it is interesting."

I Googled endophytic diazatrophs and found this free pdf:

These microbes do more than fix N, they may stimulate growth, fight off disease and insects, and enhance nutrition.

I took the offer of a free membership in ResearchGate and tested it by searching for 2 topics that interest me, anthocyanin and aronia. I was blown away by the huge number research papers available on both topics. One paper was about the anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties of Aronia leaves. Another paper had this comment: Anthocyanin may contribute to the inverse relationship of fruit and vegetable intake and chronic disease.

Tomatoes / Re: Tomato Microbiome article
« on: 2019-12-08, 10:11:53 AM »

So we can cultivate tomato microbiomes.

Fascinating article, thanks William.

I've noticed that volunteer tomatoes tend to be more robust and to fruit earlier  than my carefully saved seeds that were fermented before drying. I think I'll do a little experimenting next year with fallen tomatoes; moving them to a row and leaving some whole and some crushed.

When I got this property in the Ozark highlands the soil was eroded, rocky, clay soil low in organic matter. Many people told me I was in for a lot of hard work and spending a lot of money to grow food. I saw the abundance of food growing wild, blackberries, persimmons, acorns, pawpaws, hickory nuts, sunroots, wineberries, and more. Lazy guy that I am I decided to garden with the soil just as it was and look for species and varieties that would grow productively with notill, leaf mulch and dilute urine for fertilizer, NO poisons or commercial fertilizers. Save seeds from the best plants of the more productive varieties.

And now, 15 years later I have a lot of productive varieties that like to grow in my garden. My favorite plant is Red Russian kale that I listed as one of my staple crops, abundant weight ready for fresh eating at least 20 weeks of the year. Neil's Paymaster and Jellicorse Twin dent corn bred in Tennessee hill country are vigorous growers in my garden. Kew Blue pole beans germinate in cool, damp soil, survive heat and drought, and produce abundantly. There are more.

Rather than changing my soil to grow certain plants,  I like to grow plants that do well just as it is. A lot of my time in the garden is spent in a comfortable chair just enjoying the sights and sounds of my little woodland garden  paradise.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Multi option staple poll
« on: 2019-11-27, 06:44:22 AM »
"That Jeavons fellow doesn't have much useful to say it seems to me.  Doesn't he know that locations and conditions differ and accordingly so do crops? I'm sure me and mine would stave right quick following his advice.  I'm not fond of garden writers and advisers in general. Much prefer people who garden with their own little fingers and relate their experiences about it. What they do, why they do it, how it turns out and recognizing it might be different for others. Deppe, Kaupler, Lofthouse and people here on the forum."

Words of wisdom.
There are so many very different ways that successful gardeners use. After a few years most gardeners develop their own style of gardening. I wonder how many beginning gardeners have failed after following a "this is how to garden" book to the letter and have quit gardening in disgust.

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