25 October 2016

tomato cages

just a quick post on my tomato cages constructed last week - weldmesh, wine barrels, and fine galvanised mesh covering to keep the rats and possums off.

20 September 2016

Short, Stumpy Coloured Carrot Progress

I have been very remiss in my posts.
With spring well and truly here, the Autumn sown coloured carrots needed lifting so i can repair the bed, and move the selected plants to an out of the way corner to set seed over summer.
This project has proceeded with considerable neglect.
I originally planted Lobericher Yellow, Belgian White, a few plants - 2 or 3 I think, of 3 Colours Purple (sourced from Diggers Seeds, so who knows what it really was), and Paris Market orange carrot, allowing them to mass-cross, with the intention of creating a mix of multi-coloured, little round carrots. Why? For fun, and so growers like me, who always struggle with growing long root crops, could grow some multi-coloured carrots.
This was an exercise in extreme optimism - I had no idea about carrot genetics.
Other projects got priority, the seeding carrots got neglected, and seed packets got left in the hothouse for months at a time.  I was probably selecting robust seed, but not intentionally.
I dug a big patch of promising lookng roots a few years ago, then forgot to do anything with them for a couple of weeks, and many of them rotted. Seed produced from the few survivors was also neglected, but last autumn i planted a couple of square metres of bed, thinned them over winter, removing anything with normal foliage stems, leaving anything with purple blushes to the base of the stems.

After 3 or 4 years of selecting for short roots, I'm getting close to the goal - or at least one of the goals.

The first handful I pulled was a revelation: I couldn't believe the colours, and the stumpyness!

As I'm beginning to realise, in plant breeding the results often lead you off into different directions.
I think I now have 4 coloured carrot breeding projects!
I couldn't believe the luminescence of these magenta gems.

My original idea of multi-coloured round carrots is a bit difficult - it would mean isolating different colours, collecting seed separately, then re-mixing the seed to get different colours in the same batch, I don't really have the room or inclination.

So I think I will proceed with a Purple Paris carrot, selecting for shortness, rounded shoulders, and rounded ends - not as purple as i would like, but i think i might be able to reselect for this in subsequent seasons

Then there's a Red Wedge selection, bigger more robust carrots, broad shoulders, good colour, short roots without the round tip - well at least not as pronounced.

Then a Magenta Candles selection - narrow roots, good deep magenta colour, variable shoulders and tips.

And finally a short white  selection - but the numbers are small for this, so we will see which direction it goes in - Snow cones, or White Paris, not sure what will happen with these - and there is a bit of pale orange in the mix...

so, celebrate carrot diversity...

22 February 2016

Portable seed winnower

A couple of seasons ago I built a seed winnower from a design published at Real Seeds U.K. . It took a bit of work to get it right, and I never got mine to work very well with lettuce seed. Additionally, it took up a fair bit of room, and to set it up I had to dig out the household vacuum cleaner, and string a power cord outside.
Looking around the 'net a week ago, I came across some seed cleaner machines built by canary fanciers, to clean husks from seed - I think because birds tend to eat seed and leave the husks, meaning a lot of good seed gets thrown out with the husks. Google them on youtube if you want to see.
I had a bit of a think, played with the design and came up with a slightly modified one that is useful for the small batch seed cleaning I need.

Advantages of this one over the larger Real Seed one is that it's much smaller, and lighter making it much easier to set up, and therefore much more likely for me to bother using it. It has a variable speed, which is handy for different seed types, and it runs off a small 12 volt battery, so i can set it up almost anywhere.

So, here is a short video showing the design. Hope you like it.