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

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.

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!

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?

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: Frøsamlerne
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.

Mangel (Beta vulgaris) Prizewinner

The exchange list of Frøsamlerne 2010 has been released.
As usual, there’s lots of rare and exciting varieties, collected in their gardens by members who are willing to share.

Do you know the Horn of plenty, alias African valerian (Fedia cornucopiae)?

Or Caucasian Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides), a perennial climber with delicious edible leaves. I expect this to become a regular on the exchange list.

59 tomato varieties in all colours, shapes and sizes.

In 2010 ”Lost crops of the Incas” has become an independent grouping, including 3 types of Mashua Tropaeolum tuberosum), 2 types Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) and a single Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia).

But also old local seeds, like the black barley = “Sort 6 radet Byg”.
The black oat, “Havre fra Ribe”, collected by Vavilov Institute (VIR) before 1920 (VIR K11504) in south west Denmark.

Take a look in the list, if you are a seed dreamer like me 🙂

I’m sure you can translate the list with Babelfish, Google or some other free language tool on the web.

This month the garden has looked clean and white.

Chusan Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) in snow

Turnip (Brassica rapa) Petrowsky “Gulia”
Breeders name: Vangede (P 1948)

NordGen, former Nordisk Genbank, the Nordic countries common gene bank, send seeds to us ordinary people. It’s a bit demanding to find the wanted variety in their database SESTO, but not impossible, and worthwhile. Try clicking on “Cultivars” gives you the full list. Or search by the Latin species name clicking on “Taxons”.

I fell in love with Petrowsky “Gulia”, as it is a Danish breeding line of the tasty turnip Petrowsky. It was created by Ohlsens Enke, and approved in trials 1948 in Vangede, just outside Copenhagen. It was marketed first time in the same year.

In my old J.E.Ohlsens Enke seed catalogue from 1954 I find this turnip:

Petrowsky Vangede P. 1948.

The seeds I received was harvested in 1983, NordGen got them in 1989.
Now I hope to succeed with these old seeds. Fortunately they have been in professional care in the time passed since harvest.

When I gooled “Petrowsky”, I noticed the spelling “Petrowski” gave much more results. I found, that Petrowski was an important crop in Alaska around 1921. (Botanical Abstracts, 1921)

I also found, that Sperli in Germany seems to believe, that Petrowski and Teltower is two names for the same variety – how would that fit with descriptions of the Teltower having a unique taste? I’m sure this in future will mix up the two cultivars. Best thing we can do is to keep good records of what we grow and the source. This can be an quick and unintended way to get rid of old varieties. Thanks to the gene banks, who try to get accurate informations when they invent seeds.

Do I learn more about Petrowski, I intend to add it here, although it isn’t good practice in a blog.

Good artichoke seeds left, right the quality I had in former years

This year I harvest artichoke seeds of a superior quality, compared to my normal harvest. The seeds are hard with a smooth surface, and of a darker shade than usual. Normally the germination of my artichoke seeds are very low, but still allowing to grow a few plants. From this years seeds I expect a much higher germination rate, as seeds are obviously better ripened. I also harvested more seeds than usual, a little more than 150 seeds of the best quality. The mother plant is the old danish Serridslevgaard, very rare and difficult to obtain, but every seed growing will be its own new variety. I expect a broad variation in the seedlings. Most of them will probably be inferior to their mother, but with some luck a few better plants might appear. The mother plant is in the elite when it comes to hardiness, many of the seedlings are likely to inherit this trace – but not all.

The inferior seeds to the right in the picture are of a lighter color. A nail on the surface of the seed shell let you feel the difference. Inferior seeds are not slippery like a ripe filbert nut, but gives resistance to moving the nail along the shell.

How come the artichoke seeds developed so well this year? I believe it’s due to the warm unusually dry late summer we had on Amager, my island.

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) seedhead

It was about the time to make a new harvest of “Vild dansk” salsify, originating from Christiansø, a small island in the tiny archipelago Ertholmene in the baltic sea. It grows wild on the island, presumably bewildered from the small gardens around the naval fortress in times long past.

The seedhead looks like the dandelions miniature parachutes, ready to spread by the wind over a great distance. But I find it a bit slow to clean the pappus (parachute) from the seed. This year, inspired by SESAM, the swedish seed savers, I tried to cut off the pappus before the seeds matured. Indeed, it was an easy way to clean the seeds, for a private gardener that is.

Salsify flowers open between 10 and 12 am.

In the time between flowering and seed maturation it’s time to cut off the pappus. The pale yellow milk sap runs out and cover the injury. I cut quite low, where the shape goes from broad to narrow.

The result is immediately clean seeds, to pick when the seed head opens, just in need of proper drying before they can be packed in paperbags.
A simple operation saving a good deal of work under garden conditions. I used a kitchen scissor, but a short beaked scissor would probably do a better job avoiding the neighbor stems when cutting.

This method could probably also be used for other members of the composite flowers, like lettuce and chicory. If it’s usefull with artichokes I don’t know, I ought consider it – they are slow to clean.
One thing to be aware of is the birds reactions. Do they see the cut seedhead as an invitation to eat all the seeds? With salsify the seeds were ready to harvest same day as the seedhead opened, hardly any time for birds to feed on them before I’m home from work to pick them all.

Salsify between flowering and seedmaturity

Seeds of turnip (Brassica rapa)

Early december I visited Irkutsk in eastern Siberia. As you may expect, I have brought some seeds back home. I was happily surprised to find an easy accessible and an rich variety of garden seeds in the shops. The turnip seeds I purchased are the former famous ‘Petrovskaja’ and the variety ‘Djetskaja Metja’ (childrens dream), looking to me like ‘Goldball’.

Seeds of pepper (Capsicum annuum)

I hope it’s the earliest varieties I brought home. I’m excited to learn if they are early enough to grow in open ground in my garden. Could it be that just one or two of the peppers or eggplants will be earlier than I seen in other varieties?
Two of the peppers are “housepeppers”, used in Siberia to grow on the window sill. One of those are a F1 hybrid, needing a dehybridizing to be stabilised, if I’m to grow it on in future generations.

Seeds of eggplant (Solanum melongena)

In the shop I didn’t find time to spell my way through all the kyrillic letters. Therefore I had a great laugh, as I later read “Blek Bjuti” on an eggplant seed batch, as I realised it is the wellknown “Black Beauty”. Luckily I also have a white variety, “Vkus Gribov”, translating in to “Taste of Mushroom”. With this name it can hardly be anything but an original russian variety, or at least from one of the neighboring slavic countries.

Artichokes ready for seed harvest

Artichokes for seed are always exciting. Do they contain a lot of seeds? Potentially yes – but! More contain only few seeds, and even more no seeds at all.

Artichoke pappus

At the very first touch to the dry artichoke head you realise it is a thistle. You rapidly learn to break them open without getting thorns into your skin. Being a thistle and a relative of dandelion, the seeds are connected to the pappus, unfolding like a parachute to spread the seed by the wind. Artichoke seeds are large, I really don’t think it works that way anymore. The original wild artichoke probably had smaller seeds, allowing the wind to grab the pappus and take the seeds up in the air.

Artichoke seeds naturel

Artichoke seeds must be large and resist a light pressure. There are only few large seeds, and most I discard at once due to softness when pressed between my fingers.

Artichoke seed harvest of the year

Out of six artichoke heads, I only had large pressure resistant seeds from three. One had a fair amount of seeds, two others only small numbers. Not impressing. But a few of them might grow in spring, producing new plants. If any of these plants survive a couple of winters, it’s a miracle. I do hope for a miracle. But for now I willdry the seeds and store them with tender loving care.

It is all seeds from the variety ‘Herrgård’. My other varieties are still young in my garden, possibly the reason they didn’t set seeds at all.

Eggplants for seed – the little basket contain eggplants from open ground, the rest grown in greenhouse

Today I sensed it’s time to rescue tropical species like eggplants, if I want to harvest good seeds. They are supposed to start rotting before saving the seeds. I’m not waiting that long, but harvested today, to let the eggplants cure in the house.
Eggplant seeds from last year had a lot of vigor, I know it can be done succesfully. If it works out fine this year, I will not know until spring. Normally I would do at germination test in autumn, if in doubt, but eggplant seeds has fooled med, with complete germination in autumn and none at all in spring.

This year I had experience with several eggplant varieties, both in greenhouse and outdoor:

Applegreen – This is my standard variety so far, used for comparison. A tasty and easy to grow variety.
Rima F1 – Standardvariety in Denmark. Grows well, with huge deep shiny black fruits. I tried crossing it with Applegreen, but accidentially the fruit was consumed. Does a sting mean pick or do not pick?
Fairy Tale F1 – Funny short plant with plenty of tiny fruits in trusses. Grows well in a pot on the patio. Fruits are too small for my kitchen.
Czech Early – A little late, but productive with faily large purple fruits.
Almaz – Shiny black fruits, neither early or productive in this company, but still an appealing variety.
Diamond – Similar (same?) as Almaz, but not growing as well (accidentially?)
Skorospely – Clearly the earliest eggplant. Small dull purple fruits, nice size for kitchen, and in abundance. Excellent variety.
Vera – Quite early. In greenhouse very small late ripening fruits. Performing much better in open ground. I don’t understand why!
Thai F1 – Did surprisingly well. Late, but a lot of slim green fruits tender fruits.
Morden Midget – Performed rather poorly in greenhouse. A plant outdoor performed with two Applegreen sized fruits.

I’m surprised, that probably all are able to produce seeds under my conditions. I still don’t know if seeds will have vigor, power of germination, but my guts believe in them.
I did no isolation of the plants, and all might have crossed up. OK, I actually hope they have, as my dream is to produce an easy to grow well performing outdoor eggplant for southern scandinavia. It’s probably impossible, but I also thought outdoor growing of red pepper and melon was impossible, yet it has become a yearly practice in my garden. I will tread the new path, and see where it leads, knowing no professional would be as daring.

Pepperbed with different varieties.

Now time has come to linger in sweet red peppers. Over the years I’ve found some very early and faithfull varieties. From right it is Zlatni Medal (1 plant), Roter Augsburger (3 plants), a bastard (1 plant), Amager Kohorn (3 plants) og Yesil Tatli (1 plant). Peppers on the last four plants are still green – slightly blushing on the sunny side – and probably red in next week.

The bastard should have been a Zlatni Medal. I think they have succeeded to croos, Zlatni Medal and Roter Augsburger. It can happen, when standing so close, the flower touch each other on windy days. It’s very bad, when preserving a variety, but excellent if you want to develop an even hardier pepper. The trick is, to save seeds from fruits close to a neighbor variety for a chance cross, and to save seeds from fruits at save distance from other varieties to keep a pure variety. To have this work, neighbor varieties must have different inheritary traits, like shape and color.
I still haven’t seen insects cross my peppers – remember I’m up in northern europe – but I guess it will happen sometime in a good summer. As a security I allways store old seeds, returning to them, if a favorite should be lost in a crossing.

Wonder, if my peppers should be treated as well next year, as melons have been this – with trenched horsemanure and black plastic mulch. I guess they would be gratefull.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red, topsets removed

Nomally garlic do not set true seeds, but reproduce vegetatively by cloves and topsets. It has been like that for thousands of years, and even in nature garlic rarely sets true seeds. A few populations have been found in the northwest Tien Shan mountains in central asia, where wild garlic sets true seeds occasionally. I have read how scientists by tedious labour have been able to produce true garlic seeds, and growing garlics from them. Now it’s time to try it out.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Chinese Purple, topsets removed

First problem is that the flowers wither away before they produce seeds. Their short individual stalks can’t take the pressure from the swelling topsets, and thus die away. Therefore I remove the topsets, when they are large enough to handle. It’s very slow work, I have only done it on a few scapes.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Susan Delafield, topsets not yet removed

On Susan Delafield the topsets are still to small for me to handle. Maybe for the same reason there are so many flowers?

If the small flowers survive and bloom, next problem must be handled. Garlic are often male sterile, pollen is infertile. Luckily one can see on the anthers, if that’s the case. Purple anthers has fertile pollen, light colored anthers have sterile or no pollen.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Korean Red, topsets removed

The answer to the headline question is “yes, probaly”.
But then the seeds are not very likely to grow. If some of them do grow, it will take years to form a garlic. If you join me, as I hope, we are in for a true challenge.

A great thanks to Patrick from Bifucated Carrots who inspired and helped me stepping out on this path. He has a post on this subject.