I have Solanaceous projects on the go: true potato seed, spine-less litchi tomato, tomatillo selection (new this year!), Just Food Market Bell but these are the ones started:
1. Open Ophelia Eggplant Selection
2. Yellow to red sweet pepper - low input
3. Spanish Bell selection
4. Spanish Bell x Hungarian yellow to red intermediate phenotype selection.
On the left: The seeds of the Hungarian yellow to red sweet pepper x Spanish Bell, intermediate phenotype were larger, rather like a bell pepper (in my experience) and consequently the cotyledons are also large and vigorous looking. The fruit are a touch later too rather like Bells, including the Spanish Bell selection. Hoping to select more this year, especially for ever so slightly earlier.
On the right: The Hungarian yellow to red pepper that was sent to me from Europe years ago has been one resilient sweet pepper. It's done well through wetter and very dry years. It also seems quite disease and pest resistant so far. The seeds and seedlings are smaller than the more Bell like phenotypes but the fruit is earlier even if it takes a bit of time to turn red.
I have two eggplant projects on the go but this one is my favourite. These are seedlings from Open Ophelia. It is a small-medium tear drop shaped eggplant that I associate with the European type. I've allowed it to cross intentionally with some blockier, more lavender-cream types and hope to select and stabilize from that. Should be interesting to see what this hardy, reliable cross (originally sent to me as dehydrid Ophelia f3) will produce this year. It has yet to disappoint me!
One of the perks of doing a butternut squash breeding project is eating butternut squash. As they store well on my countertops, and the current population of this public participatory landrace is medium sized, I usually only open one at a time. They are used to make a wide and ever widening array of tasty treats. One photo I couldn't find while searching was straight up pumpkin pie even though I make it all the time. Photos added when I have them.
Would you like to grow your own ingredients? Get your seeds for the Cucurbita moschata, butternut squash, public participatory landrace breeding project for Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
Learn more about the project including why difficult years are great selection years: drought, bugs and 2016's squash.
I've had excellent germination on seeds sent to me by a fellow sweet potato enthusiast in Sweden, some seeds sent to me from a warmer local and from my own (albeit limited) seeds grown out from short season sweet potatoes here.
Germinating Sweet Potato Seeds:
They seem to germinate easily after scarifying by clipping carefully with a nail clipper away from the root and soaking. You can continually soak until you see roots or soak until seed coat starts to swell and crack. At this point, they could be direct sown into deep containers - they have quickly growing and long ranging roots - or you could monitor them in the baggie method somewhere warm. Took 1-2 days for most seeds with swollen seed coats to germinate fully. The rest took up to a week.
Seedlings start off slowly raising out of the soil, shedding their seed coats and setting out roots. The cotyledons (seed leaves), that look like butterfly wings and betray their morning glory relations, grow quickly in vigorous seedlings.
What I've learned about growing seedlings so far:
1. Make sure you bury the germinating seeds so that the seed coat properly softens and is easily discarded by the unfolding seed leaves. Soaking slightly longer may also help with this process. The seedling should be pulling itself out of the soil.
2. Slow and struggling seeds have not improved much several weeks in. I have about three seedlings that had damaged seed leaves at emergence and now have undersized true leaves. These will be discarded shortly.
3. Seedlings benefit from warmth.
Cotyledon shape varied slightly in shape and colour. The Purple Selfed emerged unsurprisingly as purple though the true leaves are so far light in colour. Most seedlings have emerged with yellow to bronze to purple baby leaves that have greened up afterwards.
I started one set quite early in order to set out robust seedling (because of an issue last year) and started another set recently. Plan to grow on inside and then in the lean to greenhouse before setting out to see what treasures they may grown beneath!
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.