Pods of the last harvest. Phaseolus vulgaris Prinsesse NGB18186 x Blauhilde F2

The best bean cross this year was no doubt the accidental cross between Prinsesse NGB18186 og Blauhilde. It is the F2 generation I have grown, and the seeds harvested is F3. It is confusing for most people. This years F3 seeds will grow the F3 plants next year, to produce the F4 generation of seeds. A little, but for understanding these photos, important detail is, that the seed surface consist of tissue from the mother plant, thus showing us F2 fénotypes. The inside of the seeds with the embryo is F3 tissue. Keep your mind clear, or just enjoy the photos 🙂


F2 generation with a wonderful diversity

Pod shape and colour show a great diversity in this F2 generation. In next generation even more diversity may show, as genes recombine. Some of the beans er quite long. Others are curved and charming, in a way usually selected against in breeding programs. Straight pods are preferred by consumers. As a gardener, I have to find out, if I really share this view on pod shape. I’ve read about german “posthörnchen”, strongly curved wax beans, reminding of old days posthorns.


F3 bean seeds, skin is F2 tissue

Each photo in the above mosaic show the seeds from a harvest event. In the first harvest are only seeds from the early maturing individuals. In following harvest events the same individuals probably also released pods. To me the first harvest is the most important, as cold climate is a limiting factor in beans in my garden.
A few seeds are very dark. One pod in the first harvest, and one in a later harvest. The same plant must have set more pods, with a different colour. This is all normal, as patterned beans tend to make an occasional “negative”.

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Eggplant breeding line 1 F4 (top row is part of breeding line 3)

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Eggplant breeding line 3 F3

The photo above shows the harvest of eggplants from the open ground bed in the vegetable garden. The plants of breeding line 1 is grown out of seeds from 2012 harvested in the greenhouse. Therefore, this line is a generation ahead of processing line 3, which is grown out of seeds grown in the open ground in 2009. Since 2009, I harvested lots of eggplants in the open ground, but there has been no obvious progress in my plant breeding, no new generations. Until last year that is, when I put some plants of breeding line 1 in the greenhouse, and got a new generation, but without knowing anything about their outdoor values. I have spent the years since 2009 to determine which envelopes of the 2009 seed harvest do most frequently provide better plants. It is valuable, although it does not produce new generations, because it allows me to concentrate on growing more individuals from the best seed envelopes.

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Seeds from a single outdoor grown eggplant fruit

Never have I harvested so many eggplant seeds. Almost all mature eggplants contained seeds, and some of them contained more seeds than I’ll be able to grow before they get too old. The seeds appears to be of prime quality. An eggplant seed celebration!

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Envelopes with eggplant seeds from open ground

This many seeds promise a lot of labour to find the best seed envelopes to draw future generations from. Which of them will produce the most reliable plants for growing outdoor in my kitchengarden?

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The eggplant bed shortly after transplanting in June

The newly transplanted eggplant bed looked neat Later weed germinated in this fertile, well-watered bed, mostly dandelions, kale and sonchus, all edible, delicious and providing a long lasting harvest. I still harvest kale and dandelion. Easy and gentle multicropping.

Since I harvested way too many seeds for my own use, I will share with interested gardeners.
In Denmark through the danish seed savers: FrĂžsamlerne
Other nationalities please contact me either by leaving a comment, or PM me if you know me in some of the social networks like HomegrownGoodness or facebook.

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Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Again this year, I had to resort to the eggplant seeds from 2009. I wait for a hot summer, so I again can harvest mature seeds. This year we ate the whole harvest. I harvested on September 30, and the following week we had the luxury of our own tender eggplants.

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Rima F3 No.3

The seed envelope from 2009 where I wrote “Rima F3 No.3” is a treasure. It is with no doubt my best eggplant seed envelope. This year more than half of the plants fruited in the open ground (seedlings was sown indoor before transplant, as the other years) despite a cool summer. However, in this cold summer I can’t imagine they can set seeds. Instead we have eaten them all, except one, which revealed some seeds that might mature, as I cut it open in the kitchen.

In the greenhouse, I have grown their cousins, Rima F3 No.1. (motherplants were siblings). I did so to highly increase my chances to harvest ripe seeds. Since this is the third year in open ground without harvest of mature seeds from my eggplants, I’m testing a new strategy. Should I grow my seedlings in the greenhouse, save seeds from each fruit separately and numbered? Then I can make comparative cultivation out in the kitchen garden, and this way recognize the best seed envelope for next generation (to be grown in the greenhouse…). It will not be quite as dogmatic plant breeding, but maybe it will speed up the process? I will sow my Rima F4 No.1. seeds next year, to learn if this strategy works for me. I would of course prefer to harvest my seeds from plants in the kitchen garden. Hopefully I come to that in the future.

PS. My garden tiles measures 40x40cm.


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Open bean flower, ready for pollination

From Asturias in northern Spain, I got a nice tasty big white dry pole bean. But it’s a bit late, and for that reason not prolific in my garden. I’ve tried three varieties of this Asturian bean, none of them full-fill my wishes. Two of them I had sent directly from a gardener in Asturias. It’s the earliest varieties they have in Asturias.
The only way ahead is to breed my own pole bean of this type.

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Bean Fabada da Asturias

Fabada da Asturias was the first pole bean of this type that I tried in my garden. I got it from Gerhard Bohl, Germany. Since I had Andecha, which is also a pole bean, with even bigger white seeds, from Anselmo in Asturias.

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Bean Andecha

What cultivars should I cross them with? It should of course be an early bean, as the only thing I’m unhappy with is that they are late maturing.
An obvious choice could be an early bush bean, but I want a pole bean. Pole beans yield so much more than bush beans. In my garden, I can easily find poles to support the beans.
Therefore I will cross to early maturing pole beans that do well in my garden.

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Bean Carré de Caen

Pole bean Carré de Caen proved to do well in the wet summer last year. It grew, flourished and set lots of beans almost endlessly. It has some similarity to the Asturian beans, being white and delicious, but the beans are very small. This I will use for crossing.

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Bean Chabarowsk

Pole bean Chabarovsk grows really well in my garden, and is the first pole bean to ripen dry beans every year. It is a borlotto-type, but because of its earliness I will use it for crossing.

Normally beans self-pollinate before the flower opens. Therefore I have to pollinate before the flower opens. But when? I looked it up in Carop Deppes book “Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties”. She is not sure, but suggest beans behave like peas in this matter. Mother-plant flower must be quite undeveloped and small. Father-plant flower opened naturally the same day.

Both stigma and stamens are tightly wrapped in a conch-like spiral of the lower petals, the keel. As long as the stigma and stamens are sitting inside the keel, it is impossible to cross them. The keel has to be removed. I ruined three flowers learning how to do it. The conch-like keel is visible in the second image from the top (Fabada da Asturias). In the top image the keel has been twisted out of the keel.
Of course it is even more difficult with the mother-plant’s flowers, because they must remain on the plant. I pulled accidentally the flower of the plant several times – that makes no good cross. But even that I learned.

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Bean flower stigmas hooked together

First the father-flower is prepared, since pollen is more robust than the stigma. Pollen is able to withstand a trip around the neighbourhood in bodily hairs on a bee! When both flowers are ready, there are several possibilities. Either the usual hand pollination, transferring the pollen directly from the stamens to the stigmas. In beans, usually self-pollinating, it’s possible use the pollen attached to the father-flower’s stigma. Stigmas ends in a spiral, so they readily hook together. I wonder if the pollen is released as the father-flower’s stigma dry out and wilt? Carol Deppe writes, that this hooking method is significantly more successful than the usual hand pollination. I played safe, used the stamens as brushes to paint a miniature of yellow on the stigma, before I hooked up the two stigmas.

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The pollinated bean flowers
A: Carré de Caen x Andecha
C: Andecha x Chabarowsk
F: Chabarowsk x Fabada da Asturias

To protect the stigma and style from drying out in the summer sun, I put masking tape around. Note that the tape adheres to the remnants of the petals, but don’t touch the sepals. The tape hopefully come off along with the petals when the pod grows lengthwise. If the tape is adhering to the sepals, the tender pods may break when growing. Another bit of masking tape is sitting on the pedicel so it does not fall off with the flower. It must indicate that this flower is crossed. Finally, I write a letter with a waterproof pen on the pedicel tape, and break of any older flowers in the same cluster, so they do not take the all energy resulting in the abortion of my cross.
Now I can just wait and pray, and hope to see the pod develop in a week or so. Nothing more to do before harvest.


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Eggplants for seed

Another step in my attempt to breed an northern outdoor eggplant

Today was the day. I think eggplants development in the garden has come to a halt now that autumn is cooling the garden down. I took the scissors, and cut all the plants off the root. I had plants scattered across the bed, but could now dig the labels out of the ground by each plant, and sort according to their parents in the last generation. It gives me an idea of​the value of parental plants in breeding – it is what Carol Deppe call “Power Breeding”.
To get an idea of What it would be without power breeding, imagine what it would look like if I had simply mixed the plants as they stood in the garden, without sorting according to parental plants.

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Rima F3 No.1

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.1 in its time hurried into setting a tiny eggplant, which was so early that the mature seeds rotted and dried up, while the other plants were still struggling to set fruits. This year, the plant to the right is especially interesting because it has set 4 big beautiful fruits in the open ground. My concrete tile measures 40x40cm for comparison (40 cm = 15.7 in).

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Rima F3 No.2, and in the box the fruits from the best plant of Rima F3 No.1

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.2 is certainly not to rely on. One plant put a small eggplant, another nothing at all! No need to dig into the seed bag a second time, practising Power Breeding!

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Rima F3 No.3

Mother plant to Rima F3 No.3 in turn has potential, and it is hereditary! All the plants set fruit, almost all up in the attractive size. 3 out of 7 plants set the abundant fruits in big size!
A favourite seed bag found. Hope I get seeds out of just some of the fruits.

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Rima F3 “Largest fruit in the F2 generation”

This I grew a lot of last year as the mother plant had such a great fruit. Last year, it produced no fruits, when several of the others produced some fruits, however, no seeds. For this reason it is not my favourite line (Power Breeding again), but since I do not want to risk losing potential seed, I still saved the biggest fruits for ripening the seeds – imagine if it were the only ones who make seeds this year!

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To the chef au cuisine 🙂

Eventually there were all those lovely, shiny aubergines with no chance to mature seeds. They will be cooked in the kitchen and enjoyed in meals the next days. My dream is that most of my eggplants can go into the kitchen. But as long as the plant breeding work need to be consolidated, I mainly try to save seeds.


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Watermelon Citrullus lanatus, my F1 hybrid (Sugar Baby x White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon).

Today we ate the first watermelon, 3kg.
It was sweet, but seeds were not all mature, so a few more days had perhaps made it even better. I also think the rind is very thick.
For me, watermelon ripeness is bit of a mystery. It does not smell aromatic, so there must be something else to look for.

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Tendril

On the clever internet, I have read that you should harvest watermelon when the tendril closest to the stalk wither. This seems to be the case.

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Yellow spot

Elsewhere on the clever internet, I have read that the bright spot where the watermelon is resting on the ground, should change colour to yellow. This has happened, but exactly how yellow should the yellow be??

One should also be able to tap and listen. I did too, and this watermelon had a much deeper quiet sound than the obvious immature watermelons crisp bright tones. But for us who do not have absolute pitch, it’s a bit difficult.

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Fresh watermelon seeds

The last method I haven’t seen on the internet. The seeds ought to be mature when the watermelon is ripe. It doesn’t seem to be the case here. Pity I couldn’t see the seeds before I harvested the watermelon.

It is easy to collect and clean the seeds. Spit them into a bowl when eating the watermelon. Afterwards, rinse them in clean water, so they’re ready to dry in a thin layer on a plate.

Will the seeds germinate next year? I believe in the darkest of the seeds will, but the lighter are probably not mature enough. I have to wait and see.


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Eggplant Solanum melongena

Today the first eggplant flower showed colour. This year is a repeat of last year, where I didn’t get any seeds – it was too cold. I’ve just mixed the seeds a bit different, not so many of the line that didn’t set fruit last year, and more of those that did. In this way last years disaster get used to grow better eggplants in future. (If I can get seeds this year)


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