Okay, so since there was at least a few people interested in my various projects i figured i’d share in a little more detail some of my previous or ongoing plant breeding or gardening adventures and projects. I will try to track down some really good photos if i can too.
p.s. Just realized there are two growing categories. Not sure which one this belongs in or whether both categories can be merged to help eliminate confusion.
Where to start, where to start. umm. okay why don’t i start of with a list of various things i have grown or tinkered with that might be unique or interesting.
- I have grown and bred my own indian corn that had/has high purple foliage, pollen anthers, husks, and tassels. They are unique and attract lots of native black bees that i have yet to positively identify. The black bees are way cooler than bumble bees though. This is what started me on my journey. I even am mentioned briefly in the book Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener: How to Create Unique Vegetables & Flowers by Joseph Tychonievich. The first year i did this i planted an old Indian corn thanksgiving decoration. I got a giant surprise as one corn plant was completely purple with no trace of green while all the others were normal. It was awesome. Sadly the photo was lost, i do have this photo though, it looked like this. I may try to recreate that again someday, who knows maybe this year.
I grew yellow striped corn once. That was fun.
Then i started growing Teosinte. Teosinte is fascinating stuff. The ancestor to modern corn. I’ve grown every variety/species of teosinte. I think modern corn was bred by crossing two teosinte species together, Zea parviglumis and Zea mexicana. Zea diploperrennis and Zea perennis are interesting because in their natural habitat in Mexico are perennial rather than annual like modern corn and most teosinte species. Zea diploperennis is diploid whereas Zea perennis is not. Zea diploperrennis gows very wild and bushy i guess you’d say.
I’ve been working for a number of years trying to slowly adapt teosinte to my Colorado temperate climate to save seeds and breed it with modern corn. After several years of frustration and failure i finally was able to find one accession of Zea mexicana from the USDA GRIN system that is just barely able to produce seed here. Teosinte naturally is adapted to the light patterns in Mexico so when grown here it only starts to tassel and silk in late fall when the sunlight shifts into the red spectrum more. I was curious if teosinte seeds would pop like popcorn so a collaborator of mine tried it in Utah. Apparently they do!
I have put the teosinte stuff on hold as i dont have enough room to grow it right now, nor the energy to fight with the racoons. Raccoons don’t understand that teosinte is different than corn and that there is nothing to eat so they tear down teosinte just like corn looking for a free meal. But i want to return to it someday. I love corn and teosinte. Nothing else quite like it.
For a few years I’ve also been working on adapting and breeding my own watermelon to grow here in Northern Colorado. Watermelons don’t grow in Colorado. Let me put it that way. Trust me, they don’t. At least not without considerable effort to have really lush soil and black plastic, etc. It can be done. But i’m lazy. I want a watermelon i can plant even in marginal soil and expect it to thrive and grow well in my conditions with my soil, my pests, my intense sunlight, my dry air, etc. Hence me starting my own watermelon breeding project. It has taken several years but i have had success. This year was the best one yet. It was originally a collaboration between me and Joseph Lofthouse of Utah. Joseph has started to become a little world famous for his landrace vegetable varieties and other crazy plant breeding projects like restoring onions to produce true seeds, planting other crops from true seeds like potatoes and sweet potatoes, restoring tomatoes to be highly attractive to pollinators and obligate outcrossers rather than inbreeding, etc. He has great success with a Cantaloupe landrace where no other cantaloupes would grow. After having success with that it inspired both of us to try the same technique with watermelons. It works!
This year i have also branched into a separate watermelon breeding project involving crosses between domestic watermelon and the rock-hard but hardy Colorado Red Seeded Citron melon which is just a very old variety of watermelon (or close watermelon species) that produces lots of pectin and bland flavor. It was once used for canning and preserves like a hundred years ago. I may have briefly mentioned it in another thread, but the russians from the soviet union (USSR) experimented with a lot of crazy cross-species plant breeding. They already tried this watermelon-citron hybrid idea and had success breeding winter storage watermelons that were sweet and edible but that stored for months just fine! Crazy cool! So, this new project has potential. These are my current hybrid seeds. They were originally bright red like the citron parent, but now are various seed coat colors and patterns indicating the crosses have been successful. There are several people excited about this project of mine.
and i’m getting a little tired of typing. But two other main projects of mine are currently with wild tomato species and pea breeding.
Here is a cool purple-seeded pea i bred in 2015 and grew out this F2 segregate this past season.
And here are some red-podded peas i selected.
If anyone wants to know more about the tomatoes and other stuff let me know and i’ll talk about it more in another post. I’m tired. lol. I’ve also tried growing golden kiwi from seed once. That was fun.