17 August 2014

Coloured Pea Progress

Been a while since I posted - winter has been a bit cruel at Casa Templetonia, not so much weather wise, but the depredations of mites and disease.
I had intended to do a big grow out of all the commercially available snows and snaps on hand, some 20 varieties, in an attempt to discern the best tasting ones to cross back to my emerging purple and yellow snows and snaps, which seem to be stabilising a bit (more of this later).
So at garden no 2 (G2) 5 kilometres from home, I pre soaked all the varieties from the shoebox, then did a big sowing of 10 seeds each of every variety, including dwarfs, talls, snows and snaps. I even delved into the research material, and sowed two Chinese snows from the gene bank.
I was tardy in my attention, and when I finally went back to check prior to my month in the Kimberley for work, redlegged mites had emerged from the surrounding pasture, and decimated the seedlings. Three treatments with pyrethrum spray controlled the beasts, but not before they had hammered the parsnips and peas.

The hammered purple snows

The purple snow survivors

Most of the varieties totally succumbed, but in my trial of four siblings of one of my purple lines, two lines seemed mostly unaffected. And one of the two Chinese snows, that had not impressed when I first grew them several years ago, had put up staunch resistance, and were happily speeding ahead of everything else.
The Chinese Snows
So the taste trial is severely compromised, but I have learned that two of my purple lines are pest resistant, and that the Chinese snows also carry this characteristic.
On the home front, on my return from the north, I found my yellow snows, which had been growing so strongly on my departure had been infected with a dark spot disease, and were unlikely to produce anything of substance. The purple snows were somewhat affected, but are still putting on pods. But in the greenhouse, the dwarf resistant snow lines were excelling.
I had sown 4 sibling lines from my Chaber of Death purple lines, and not only were they all growing strongly, they were all deep purple. And not only were they all deep purple, suggesting that they are homozygous for all the purple genes, but at least two of the sibling lines are homozygous for double flowering. At least some of each sibling line are highly disease resistant, and all seem to have a determinate habit - clustered pods at the top of the plant. This might not be true determinancy in the sense that some tomatoes are determinate, but offers hope for a good commercial line.
The double flowered disease resistant snows from Chamber of Death

One of the Mammoth Purple Snows

Home gardeners like a spread of cropping over time, but some market gardeners prefer something that they only have to harvest once or twice. These lines seem to have that.
In addition they all seem to be fibre free, tho further taste tests are required.

The red snow project is also proceeding - I planted all the coloured seed from a speculative purple X yellow cross a few years ago, and collected every red and purple plant. This seed was autumn sown along my espalier trellis, hoping to get pods for assessment before the apricots leafed up. So far, the plan is on track, with many of the plans in bud.
More reports soon.

26 April 2014

Green Mountain Spud Onion F2 seedlings

I collected seed from my Green Mountain plants, well, from the few that flowered. An interesting phenomenon is the number of these F2s that are chloritic - lacking or low in chlorophyll. I noticed it in the first batch I sowed a month ago, but my recent sowing shows a considerable proportion with charateristic. Of the 16 or so plants I grew from Kelly's original seed 2 plants were chloritic, and succumbed at about the pencil stage.
In this generation, 15 out of 34 emerged seeds are yellow. This will only be a problem if they fail to thrive, so it will be interesting to see what eventuates.

Purple snows and snaps - autumn 2014 growout

Progress on the purple snows has been slow, but steady. Locking in 3 dominant genes from one parent (all the purple colouration ones), and two recessives(the snow pod genes)  from the other is an exercise in playing the numbers - the more you plant the greater the chances of all five turning up in one or more individuals.
I did three crosses in spring 2011 - Purple Podded X  Purple Flowered Mammoth (Yakumo), Purple Podded X Delta Louisa, and Purple Podded X Chamber of Death.

These have produced three projects - Tall Purple Mammoth and Tall Mauve Mammoth  a large podded tall purple (or mauve) snow without resistance, Delta Purple a short purple snow with some resistance and double flowers, and Resistant Purple Chamber of Death, a highly resistant purple snow.

The TPM project is now at F5, with 15 seeds each of 2 promising lines in the ground. It has been hard to fix both purple pods and flavour - sweet parents have given chalky offspring, but hopefully the F5s will have settled down a bit. Both of these lines show promise of being homozygous purple, a hard ask with three different dominant genes to fix. Well, two actually since both parents carried the A gene for anthocyanin production.I could have just taken a chance on this - growing out lots and waiting for them to stabilise, but a smarter approach is to plant a number of seeds from each purple plant from the previous generation. By growing 6 plants of the subsequent generation, if each of these show a particular dominant trait, it's about 80% certain that the parent was homozygous for that trait. This is good to know, particularly if you wish to perform additional crosses. I will probably do this - once I have a purple snow that is homozygous purple and snow, if it doesn't taste great - and this has been hard to lock in -I can cross it to a good tasting snow parent,  knowing that the snow characteristics are stabilised, and only needing to reestablish the purple.

The Delta Purple lines are at F4 seed stage, and I haven't planted any this autumn - no room.

From the spring growout of Purple Podded X Sugar Snap F2 lines, 2 plants showed full purple, sweetness, thick pods, and no fibre - an absolute blinder of a result in the F2. So half the F3 seed from each of these plants has been sown. Since thick pods and no fibre arer recessive genes, if I can lock in the purple, I'll be well on the way to a purple snap pea.

One problem with growing multiple lines from different parents is the problems of record keeping - It's a nightmare. More on that in a future post.

Yellow snows - Autumn 2014 growouts

After a hectic few years, the coloured podded pea project is settling down a bit. I don't mean I've got to the end, but some goals are in sight, and clearer pathways to achieving them apparent.

I've learned a lot about what is achievable in a year - two generations is about all I can get with any reliability. And with the multitude of lines I'm growing, a smarter approach would have been to concentrate on doing one thing properly, before taking on a new project.

A good. yellow podded snow pea has been the easiest to achieve. My Tall Yellow Snow (TYS) project, a cross between Golden Podded what I think was Yakumo has produced 2 sibling lines that show promise.  The tentatively named Pixie Moon line is a tall yellow snow, with long and wide fibre free pods, and a cute curl in the bracts that subtend the flower and pods.

Pixie Moon on right

The other line, tentatively named Joni's Taxi is  big and yellow, on a robust plant, with a very long peduncle that holds the pods away from the stem, making them easy to see and pick. And JT seems to have one of the multi-flower genes, which is a bit of a bonus.

Half of the F5 seeds from each plant have been sown to allow for further selection, and to see if the traits are stable. I've held back half of each seed stock in case of calamity. With around 20 plants from each of the parents I should have sufficient material to judge for stability and select for the best plant from each line.

Here's part of last spring's F4 crop.

Another line of yellow snows is the Golden Spring project, resulting from a cross of Oregon Spring (which was a donation from a fellow grower, and which I can't find much information on) with Golden Podded. Here I was looking for a disease resistant, multi-flowered, short yellow snow. This has become the material being explored in our cooperative breeding program the Golden Spring Project. Keen readers can follow progress at the Ozgrow Australian Gardening forum.

Golden Spring is being grown from south east Queensland to western Victoria, so should be subject to a good range of selection pressures. We are growing the F3 generation this autumn.

One further line of yellows is Delta Gold, a cross of Golden Podded with Delta Louisa, a David Murray variety, which is short and disease resistant. Some of the Golden Spring growers got some F2 as a bonus - I miscalculated the number of growers for the Golden Spring, and had to make up a shortfall.

All of these are now growing in the garden, having been sown over the last month or so, so fingers crossed for some stable F5s.

22 April 2014

A Snow and Snap Pea Trial

I started my coloured snow pea breeding in a flurry - I didn't think through the parentage particularly, just happy to do crosses and see them work. But now as the fifth generation of crosses are in the ground, hopefully producing pods in a month or two, I've begun to think about flavour. I know, a bit late into the project, since I am trying to grow food, but there you go.

Flavour in vegetables is driven by both genetics and soil - think of the idea of terroir in wine growing. Weather also comes into it, but I don't have any control over the weather. I can amend the soil to introduce the right soil nutrients, but these will only work if the right genes are in the peas.

I'm after sweetness - I want a fibre-free pod, long and wide, with a sweet flavour. And it would be nice if that sweet flavour persisted as the pods developed, so that the baby peas inside were also sweet. Carol Deppe mentions a variety Oregon Giant Snow Pea that has sweet pods and peas, that can be used like sugar snap peas even as the pod fills. While the pod presumably doesn't have the thick walls of a sugar snap, it also doesn't have the genetic linkage to short pods, which is why we don't have (yet) a really large podded sugar snap pea.

So this week I sowed every snow and snap pea in my collection, including a few accessions from a seedbank. I'll be doing an autumn/winter taste test, tagging the varieties that taste the best, with the potential to cross these into my coloured snow and snap lines, if they prove to have poor taste once I stabilise them.
Here's the planting bed, followed by a list of the varieties sown.

12 April 2014

Parsnip Progress

I grew three batches of parsnip last season, a growout of 50 plants of Kral original seed, a patch of Halblange Weisse F1X mass cross, and a patch of Kral F1X mass cross. Eaxch of these was probably only 1.5 metres square, so relatively low numbers of parents. These patches were allowed to cross at will, the two mass cross beds were next to each other, and relatively synchronised in flowering starting in spring and still going on this autumn,, but the original Kral bed was about 3 metres away, and had a very extended flowering period, right through last winter, spring and summer.
Since the Kral originals were grown from plugs and transplanted, I didn't assess the roots since the transplanting was likely to have distorted the shapes.
And I didn't assess the mass cross roots before harvesting the seed - there just weren't enough plants to risk digging them up.

But after harvesting most of the seed from the mass crosses over the last month or two, I pulled the plants up.
Here is the result, Halblange F1X on the left, Kral F1X on the right. Garden fork for scale.

18 March 2014

Coloured Carrots,: the next generation

It has finally rained, so perhaps the autumn break has arrived while the soil is still warm. Tomatoes have been pulled, the bed dug straight away, a bit of sheep poo and dolomite, a heavy water, leave for a day, a final rake over and the carrots are sown.

I've sown four blocks, about 80 cm each along the metre wide bed, in the order French Round F1, Deep Purple F1, Pale Mauve F1, and Deep Mauve F1.
I realise I made a mistake - should have put the Rounds in between the colours, but too late now.
ah well.

25 February 2014

Short coloured carrot project progress

I mixed up a collection of coloured carrots and got them to cross, and grew out the F1 seed last autumn. This gave a range of tinted carrots, mostly pale with some purples mauves and pinks. All the coloured roots were dug up and planted in a small tight patch, along with some French Rounds in an attempt to get some crosses between the coloureds and the rounds. And a couple of Baby variety, from a restricted self seeded population that were in the garden got into the mix as well, just to add a bit of diversity. I also planted a shop bought deep purple carrot. I tried to keep a bit of order to the plantings but they did get a bit mixed.

These have all gone to seed over summer, and I've sorted the plants according to root shape and depth of remnant colour - in some cases its difficult to tell what the original carrot was like, but I've given it my best shot.

Carrots produce a lot of seed. I don't know what I'm going to do with the excess. I've only got room for a fairly limited growout, so I will only be sowing seed from the more deeply coloured roots, and some of the French rounds. That leaves heaps of potentially crossed up seed, that I don't have the room for.

23 February 2014

A Parsnip F1 Growout Update

I sowed some seeds from a mass crossing I did last autumn, selecting the Kral F1 and Halbelange F1 seed to continue my pursuit of a short fat parsnip for growing in Bendigo.
These plants are now flowering. Germination was a bit patchy, but the resulting plants are spectacular - I've measured them at over 8 feet high.

I've also been collecting  from a 50 plant original Kral growout. This has been progressively ripening for about the last 5 months, so I'm not sure of the quality. I've been drying it down in batches as I harvest it, and storing it in the freezer, so I will need to work up a bed to sow this soon for another autumn growout, and to assess it for quality.

The rest of the Kral F1 seed was sown about a month ago under heavy undefelt mulch at my second garden, but nothing has germinated, so it looks like it wasn't viable, or the stinking hot 43 degree days have sent it dormant.

22 February 2014

Green Mountain Potato Onion F1 results

I've reported previously on my progress growing Kelly Winterton's Green Mountain Potato Onion. The plants are now senescing, so I've pulled most of them, and the variety is tremendous. There is considerable variety in colour, with both browns and whites, but the real variation is in size.

These nine different bunches are all siblings of Green Mountain F1.
The two big white single bulbs are spectacular, check out the weight (grams)...


I've got about a dozen seedheads with green seed capsules still maturing on 4 of the plants, and I've harvested one seedhead which has yielded a few dozen seeds, so chances for a bit more variety in another generation.

All of these bulbs will be planted back into beds this autumn. I'm hoping the single bulbs will divide in their second season of growing.
There seems to be a fewf broad phenotypes in this F1 generation - these large single bulbs, of which I have another couple of smaller ones developing, some pale clusters, (upper left) and some brown skinned clusters. Unharvested at the moment are a couple of many divided clusters, with a couple of dozen divisions in one of the clusters. Yet to see if these form bulbs, and it is these that are flowering most profusely, so hoping that there is still a fair bit of genetic diversity within, and that some of them at least give good large bulbs.
Have to wait and see.

11 January 2014

Selection of snow peas

This spring I've grown out a couple of selections of F4 yellow snow peas. I should probably go through the development of these lines, if only to remind my self of what went on.
These were originally grown as a bit of an afterthought along a marginal dry bed next to a half shaded fence. I had returned from a lengthy winter holiday to find a mass of F1 plants with set pods, but because of weather conditions, some of the pods had sprouted or sprouting seeds in them. I just chucked a whole heap of what I thought were ruined seeds into a bed, and got a great germination. The plants struggled, many only setting one or two weak pods, so selection was a bit difficult, but two plants stood out, with big pods, and vigour.
I bulk collected the yellows, and individually bagged the good plants, and grew them out.