18 March 2015

Autumn 2015 projects - resetting priorities

It has been a shocking summer for vegetable growing - and breeding. Very hot start to spring with little or no rain, then cool early summer, a single rain event, and a coolish end to summer. Tomatoes - which have been on the backburner breeding wise since my forays into dwarf Jaune Flammee - have been very unproductive. I've been wanting to cross OSU Blue to Japanese Black Trifele, looking for a better blue tomato, but the two adequate tomatoes this year were Black and Brown Boar and Brads Black Heart, suggesting they might be good parents.

left to right - Black and Brown Boar, Brads Black Heart, Japanese Black Trifele, and OSU Blue. All abit under-ripe
Since the tomato season is almost over, and flowers relatively few, I'd better get onto it soon if I'm going to get a ripe fruit by early winter. Plan would then be to grow out an F1 single fruit over winter, and start looking through the F2s next summer. OSU is still flowering, but the rest have finished, so i might need to go and get some pollen from some other plants I've got growing at my second, soon to be eliminated, garden. The owner needs the room for drainage works, so a salvage operation over the next couple of weeks is in order. Roots, onions and tubers including my saffron patch will need to be dug up and stored.

The parsnip project is looking hard. With only a small suburban garden, growing out sufficient roots for assessment then selection means lots of overcrowding and chances of genetic bottlenecking. One big patch of seeding snips were collected, but circumstances prevented timely processing, and most have rotted. I put the root in the bags with the seed so i could cull the off types, but ended up making everything so damp it all went mouldy. There are a few patches of other selections still with green seed, so if i can find space they might go in. By chance, a volunteer parsnip I dug up while cleaning up a bed had a lovely short stubby form, so has been transplanted into a corner hoping for seed sometime...

The purple round carrot project is also stalled. Root selection was delayed in winter, replantings of survivors went into an isolated corner with low survival, and the three that did seed where mauve skinned, but white fleshed, although mostly stumpy in form. A second patch has produced a little seed from half a dozen plants, but the deep purple carrots I got hoping to cross back to my breeding crosses were grown in a foam box in the shade to survive my late summer absence,and don't look like flowering this autumn. There isn't much seed of this left, so I'm relying on some seed to keep some of the genetics. A few volunteers in odd beds seem to have dark shoulders, but are also reluctant to flower, so not sure where this project will go.
But the search for a better potato onion will continue - post to follow soon...

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