26 December 2011

Blue banded bee

A couple of days ago I was out watering in the greenhouse, and heard a familiar loud buzz - a quick search round the tomatoes revealed a native blue banded bee buzz-pollinating the flowers - must remember to bag some blossoms to prevent cross pollination if I want to do any seed saving...

16 December 2011

The assessment trials - results

I sowed fifteen types of pea seed from a heap of accessions donated to me from a crop breeding institute. This was mostly for seed increase, and to check suitability of my growing conditions, and any other characteristics that might be useful in a breeding program.
I couldn't really sample the crop - since I only had about 5 seeds from each variety, this crop was mostly to increase the amount of seed I had of each variety, so I can experiment a bit next autumn.
The production was most variable, some varieties yielding 16 pods per plant, others only one, so at least it speaks to considerable diversity in the mix.

Also of note was one plant of Angela's Blue, which produced half blue pods. I've stored this seperately, and will grow it out next autumn to see how it segregates out.

The pods are all drying in my warm spare room, hung up in the little organza bags I whipped up on the machine last week - the ones from the shop were too expensive, and too small.

11 December 2011

Some other projects - tomatoes and potatoes

For the last couple of seasons, I've been growing out early generation tomato plants as part of the The Dwarf Tomato Project. This season, I've decided to cross Jaune Flammee with one of my dwarfs, looking for Dwarf Flammee. This will involve a bit of growing out, back crossing, and then selection in subsequent generations.
I'm also going to grow out some true potato seed. Due to a quirk of potato genetics,(most cultivated potatoes are tetraploid rather than diploid - they have an extra set of chromosomes) if a potato plant flowers, gets pollinated, and sets a fruit with viable seed, it will produce a range of different offspring, even if it pollinates itself.
One of my potatoes - Pink Eye, a Tasmanian favourite - has set quite a few fruit, so with luck, I will get some viable seed, which will produce little tubers, which I can plant out to get a crop, and then test for eating qualities. Ah, the patience of a plant breeder...