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Messages - Ellendra

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Update: All the plants that had been bruised have flowered. This includes several female flowers, not just the male ones. I'm still watching to see if the fruits are able to ripen, but so far it looks promising.

The plants that were only clipped, and the control group, have not flowered, except for one that a deer stepped on and did the bruising for me. Since I need as many ripe fruits as I can get, I put an end to the different groups and went through giving every plant I could reach a bruise. There were still a few untouched, because they're tangled with so many thistles, nettles, and cow parsnips that it's hazardous to get close to them, so I guess they'll serve as my control group.

It's interesting that a single bruise at the end of a single vine can have that much of an effect on the whole rest of the plant. This seems like something that warrants more study. Next year I'll try a few different stress methods to see if there are others that would work.

Seed Saving / Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« on: 2020-07-27, 10:38:06 AM »
I haven't had a chance to test this yet, but what if you saved the top 2 inches of each carrot, stored them in damp sand in a cold place all winter, then planted them in the spring? That should be enough root to regrow and flower, but without losing too much of the food value.

I'm growing a variety of Shark Fin Squash this year, species C. ficifolia. Several sources say it's day-length sensitive, and that this far north it only blooms late in the season when it won't have time to ripen. Since the seller is in Michigan I assumed they had a variety that wasn't day-length sensitive. But, while my other squash varieties were covered in blooms, my shark fins had none.

On a whim, I decided to try an old orchardist's trick: stress the plant. With fruit trees that are old enough to flower but won't, you can get them to flower by beating them with a rolled-up newspaper. It sounds crazy, but the plant thinks it might be in danger and pushes to reproduce. It will flower the next spring.

I didn't have a rolled-up newspaper, so I tried a couple things. On some I snipped off the growing tips from some of the longer vines. (I had to do that anyway, they were encroaching on the walkways.) Others I stepped on the vines near the tips, not enough to destroy the stem but enough to leave a bruise. Some I did both, and others were left alone as a control.

That was 2 days ago. This is what greeted me this morning:

This was one of the plants that was both clipped and bruised. It's early enough that I'm still watching for results from the rest of the patch, and it remains to be seen if this plant will form fruit, but this was too special not to share.

I don't know if stressing the plant would work for other day-length sensitive plants, but would anyone else be willing to experiment and let us know?

I planted Silene capensis in my medicinal herbs garden a few years ago. I already had Silene latifolia growing wild, it's pretty much everywhere in this part of the country.

I'm now finding plants that look very much like S. capensis, growing quite a distance from my herbs garden. I'm trying to determine if they've been spreading, or if they're actually crossing with their wild relatives. So far I've only found one research paper on the subject, and it did not include S. capensis.

If I can't find anything, I might have to take samples and have them tested. I would love to learn that S. capensis is establishing itself outside my garden, but I don't know if a capensis x latifolia hybrid would have the same properties.

Anyone know where I might be able to find more research on the subject?

You have plenty of space to grow 200+ plants. Just not all at the same time :)

Take your seeds and divide them into batches, with each batch being enough to fit the space. Start with one, and grow each batch separately, one batch per year. When you save seeds, make sure you take a little from each plant. When you run out of your original seed, start mixing in some saved seeds. There are lots of mixing algorithms you can use, but the main idea is that each planting has seeds from plants that didn't all grow from the same batch. That way you get the same diversity as a huge patch, but in smaller bites.

Grains / Re: Evolutionary Breeding: Wheat & Barley
« on: 2020-05-05, 03:14:14 PM »
Bush beans too, forget harvesting dry bush beans here unless you like a lot of mold and mud in your soup.

Pick the pods (or whole plants) as soon as they start changing color or show signs of drying down. Spread them out indoors to finish drying.

Wet autumns are a problem here, too. I can only get dry beans if they finish drying indoors. But, knowing that, I've been able to get good bean crops the last few years.

Cucurbits / Re: Drying squash
« on: 2020-04-30, 12:14:10 PM »
You haven't been overwhelmed. So it isn't that my yard won't grow zucchini well.

 Maybe some people sow the whole packet and that's why they produce more than they can use.

I'm guessing it's more than they eat one zucchini per week, even in summer. If each plant is producing one every day or two, and they have 3 plants, they would get overwhelmed pretty quickly.

I don't think the average American eats much summer squash. We're the weird ones. :)

Cucurbits / Re: Looking for seeds for a "cob melon"
« on: 2020-04-27, 10:46:55 AM »
Cob melons are a muskmelon category, not a watermelon. Interesting story, though!

Potatoes / Re: TPS 2020
« on: 2020-04-26, 10:34:24 AM »
Richard, I vote to name that variety "Purple Snowflake" or something similar. Those are pretty!

Cucurbits / Looking for seeds for a "cob melon"
« on: 2020-04-26, 09:56:51 AM »
A friend-of-a-friend recently contacted me for help in locating a rare melon type. I've never even heard of it before, and my searches haven't turned up much. The only possible source I've found is a small company in Canada that won't ship to the US, and I can't get their website to work.

Does anyone else know of a source for cob melons? Or even any information about them? So far all I have is a brief mention in an Amy Goldman book. I searched using some of its other names ("snap melon", "phut", "Cucumis melo momordica") and that got me a little more information, but the only source that came back was an Etsy seller in India.

Any ideas?


 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?

When is your wet season? If your area tends to be wet in the spring but dry in the fall, flour corn should grow well for you. If it's wetter in the fall, I'd go with flint corn. I've never grown popping corn, but it seems like it would do better with a dry fall.

How do you like to eat your corn? Flint corn works better boiled, while flour corn tastes better baked. Dent corn tastes better if baked with a batter wet enough that it actually boils and then bakes.

Personally, I grow both a flint and a flour corn, alternating years.

My plans have change somewhat, although not completely. I still have 5 different kinds of squash I'm planning to grow large quantities of for seed production. And I have sections set aside for my Cultivariable assignment, my Baker Creek contract, and some for my Job's Tears breeding project.

But, I'm quadrupling the amount of space dedicated to potatoes. They're a major part of my diet, but they're usually so cheap and plentiful that I mainly grew them so I could practice growing them, and so I could test different growing methods. This year, I'm planting with the assumption that there will be several waves of shutdowns, and that there will be major issues with supply lines.

As a sign of how weird things have gotten, my dad, Mr. "Why bother growing that when you can just buy it in the store", is borrowing some space on my farm to grow his own patch of potatoes!

I'm also growing wheat this year. I have some small packets I was thinking of planting as a seed increase, but when report after report showed up of stores being sold out of every kind of flour they carried, I decided it's time to go all-in. I've ordered large canisters of 2 different kinds of wheat, one spring and one winter. That should provide for most of our baking, given that we don't eat a lot of bread to begin with.

The bean and pea sections are also being increased, and I'm going to try growing carrots. I haven't planted carrots in years, but I think I've found a variety that can handle my soil. We'll see. There is a big patch of greens planned, but I'll admit most of it is for the chickens. They've been keeping us supplied with eggs since laying picked up in early February.

Oh, and there will also be more non-food plants. Useful things like soapwort, pyrethrum daisies, and luffa gourds. I'm testing 3 varieties of cotton to see if I can get them to produce here. And one variety of tobacco, even though I don't smoke. I figure it might make a good trade item.

A different kind of change to my garden plans: I'm trying to be more aggressive when it comes to pest control. I'm planting mints around the edges to help repel mice. I'm putting the squash all around the field as a border, since I've noticed the local deer don't like walking through them. And my air rifle is ready with lead-free pellets. I'm hoping to get some rabbit stew out of the deal.

Fingers crossed that the weirdness of the past few weeks turns out to be the worst it will get.

Cucurbits / Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« on: 2020-03-05, 11:53:19 AM »
Resurrecting an old thread, here. I recently came across a seed company in Michigan that focuses on crops adapted to the Great Lakes region. They have a C. ficifolia that produces well for them. It would probably do well in other short-season climates.

Here's the link:

Tomatoes / Re: Reisetomate / "Traveler tomato" project
« on: 2020-02-16, 09:52:02 AM »
However, some of the pictures there show clusters that are completely ripe, so irregular ripening might not always be a problem.

I wonder if they ripen more evenly off the vine?

OSSI pledged varieties / Re: Breeding Goldini Zucchini Podcast
« on: 2020-02-12, 10:15:15 AM »
I came across a website where people can post their own seeds, and the site handles the marketing and the payment processing. Kind of like Etsy, but for seeds instead of crafts. It would still leave the grower responsible for the sorting, packaging, and shipping, but for some of us here it might still help enough to make it worthwhile.

The website is

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