I've had watermelon seeds overwinter and sprout when the weather was warmer. That was a nice indicator of what temps they felt they needed. Surprisingly, I have had some sprout in early May when It really wasn't very warm yet. Most didn't sprout until June though. If I were trying for a landrace here, those early ones would have been good to save.
If you pre-sprout them Joseph, you will get an earlier harvest, but you're then encouraging seeds that will need extra warmth to sprout.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Feb 19, 2012 2:32:07 GMT -5
Yup. Trade-offs. I grow two or more crops for every species: One for production, and one for breeding. So I'll soak the production seeds, but plant the breeding seeds directly into soil that is much too cold. Of course, the lines between those two groups are not bright and clear, they kind of get munged together... Things from the production patch are constantly sneaking into the breeding gene-pool.
For what it's worth, I am officially starting my Frosty line of Watermelons and of cantaloupes... It's snowing tonight, but as soon as the snow cover melts and the soil thaws, I'm expecting to plant a row of watermelon seeds and a row of cantaloupe seeds.
Every year I have cantaloupes that volunteer... I saved some seed separate this summer from one of the volunteers. It tasted bland, but that can be forgiven because it was the earliest fruit harvested. This year I am encouraging volunteer cantaloupes because I piled the excess cantaloupes in a spot where they can be left alone next season.
I had two volunteer watermelon last spring, but they didn't produce fruits.
Also last spring I started my Frosty line of tomatoes from volunteers. I'm expecting to plant them this spring; months ahead of when tomatoes aught to go into the ground.
Some people though don't get the difference and are inadvertently inserting qualities they don't want by only focusing on one crop line.
I'm thinking that when I select for tender kernels in sugary enhanced sweet corn that I am also selecting for poor germination. Those sorts of trade-offs surround my breeding programs like an Oakland fog. Most times I am unable to see far enough through the mist to discern what the consequences will be of my selection criteria. I can sometimes predict general patterns, but rarely the nuances....
One of my concerns with okra is to get rid of spines, but they seem to be linked with vigor and red color, both of which I want to keep. I think I'm going to have to quit spending time with controlled breeding and instead just plants tons of okra and then get rid of anything with spines.
In breeding with chestnut trees there are many things that people inadvertently select for, most commony for early production. Trees that produce nuts at 3 or 4 years make it into most breeding programs while trees that don't produce until 10 years old or later get dropped, even though they might have many great qualities. I understand why it happens, but it's a bad trade off.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Feb 19, 2012 11:48:28 GMT -5
You won't hear a peep of complaint out of me about my gardening conditions: As far as I am concerned, they are near ideal. Dry enough that most molds, slimes, fungi, and virus fail to thrive. Cold enough during winter to outright kill or severely curtail bugs. (No mosquitoes, or chiggers, or ticks, or voles.) Plenty of irrigation water. Long enough season to grow most any crop that is socially favored around here...
Some of our most prolific weeds originated from the Mongolia/Khazakistan region.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Feb 21, 2012 0:23:17 GMT -5
As an example of how radically different the growth can be between cultivars...
The following photos were taken on the same day. The seeds were planted on the same day a few feet from each other.
Here are melons that are not well adapted to my garden:
And here are melons that thrived in my garden:
Eventually the thriving melons produced these fruits:
The fruit in the lower/right corner came from a variety that was adapted to our village by my father who has saved the seed year after year for decades.
In addition Blacktail mountain put out a fruit for me a few weeks later.
So there you have it, my entire watermelon harvest for the 2011 growing season, and my seeds for next year. I've got a few varieties to trial from warmer climates, but I'm expecting most of them to be poorly adapted. I'm also expecting to plant seeds from the Keen101 landrace breeding program which is likewise in a very-cold high-altitude garden, and from a landrace from northern Missouri, and from Susan's breeding program who lives in the same mountain valley as my farm. We have shared seeds all around between the breeding programs so we can build on each others success. The sharing also helps us to maintain a wider gene-pool.
Hey Joseph, I don't know if you want any more germplasm but I have some Golden Midget from this year. Produced pretty well for me but wasnt' awful sweet, acceptable is my word for it. But it does have the "yellow when ripe" gene.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Feb 21, 2012 12:30:15 GMT -5
In my garden last year, no large seeded melon survived to bear fruit. The surviving melons produced small to medium sized seeds. Also no tiny seeded melons survived. I'm not smart enough to predict ahead of time what traits will be valuable in my breeding programs. So I plant as wide a genome as possible, and let it rearrange itself as much as possible, and save seeds from those plants that thrive in my garden with it's unique pests, and soil, and climate, and farmer. I love to obtain landrace varieties because much of the drudgery of collecting a broad genetic diversity has already been done for me.
oxbowfarm: I thought that I was done collecting germplasm for a few years, but then I looked up golden midget. Thanks. I'll PM you.
what are the other watermelons shown in the above picture?
I jumbled together the seeds of a couple hundred varieties before planting so I don't know what variety name they used to be called. These are the only ones that survived. Today they are called "Joseph's proto-landrace 2011". I expect to promote them to landrace status after the 2013 harvest.
The planted seeds included two of the Homegrown Goodness watermelon mass crosses, so they could be any sort of genetically unique segregating melon.
Silt/clay, high-altitude, super-arid, sun-drenched, irrigated-desert garden. Cold radiant-cooled nights. ~100 frost free days. Grow most of my own locally adapted landrace seed. GDD10C ~1300. Author of Mother Earth News: Landrace Gardening Blog.