... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Amaranth Trials

Last year I attempted to grow a patch of grain type amaranth using seed I'd purchased from the bulk food section of a local health food store. It didn't grow very well, so I scoured my boxes of seeds for all amaranths I had of any type. This row is the result. From right to left: not visible behind the tall purple - are very short plants of 'Calaloo' (Amaranthus tricolor); the dark purple is 'Hopi Red Dye'; next is light green "Love-Lies-Bleeding" (Amaranthus caudatus); then an equally short stretch of purple 'Polish'; the long stretch of mixed purple and green that follows is a mixture of various grain types (including: 'Guarijio', 'Chinese Giant', 'Mercado Dreadicus', 'Manna de Montana', and 'Burgundy'), finally the miserably short little ones on the far left are 'Elephant Head'.

As well as the local weed (Amaranthus retroflexus) can grow around here, there shouldn't be any reason that I can't select for a locally adapted grain type of amaranth. Ideally this will grow like mad, have light-colored seeds and darkly pigmented leaves. For now, I'm just going to let them intermingle how they please. Later hopefully I'll have various vigorous descendants to start selecting from.

Pepper program

This is a first step toward incorporating the health and vigor of Capsicum chinense types (Habanero in this case) into my mild pepper lines that are otherwise primarily derived from bell pepper X variegated (Capasicum anuum) hot pepper crosses. Aside from being selected for mildness, these lines had been selected for above average purple foliage color. It would be great to combine the growability (resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses) of Habanero with the easy fruit set of my mild lines.

Here are some peppers harvested from the hybrids (three different mild lines X Habanero). They have grown well and are fruiting in spite of this year’s severe drought. I have to think that the Habanero ancestry (and maybe also hybrid vigor) are contributing to the ease of growth of these ones, since several different normal annuum types planted at the same time have almost failed completely.

Kale (with collard,cabbage,broccoli introgressions)

Here is one of the 2010 plants of my glossy kale /collards. It's descended from crosses of 'Green Glaze' collard with 'Dwarf Blue Scotch' kale and an ornamental red-purple "flowering" cabbage. The goal is to eventually combine the glossy trait with dark red-purple (anthocyanin) pigmentation which would theoretically give superior cabbageworm resistance. I've already witnessed the cabbageworms preference for blue-gray (glaucous) plants that still segregate out of these lines. Unfortunately the glossy trait makes the plants more attractive to flea beetles, hence all of the tiny holes in the leaves. Red-purple color has also been reported to deter cabbage butterflies from laying eggs on red cabbage. So, I hope to breed in some red cabbage in the near future. Spring 2010, I did some crosses of this glossy kale-lerd line onto on overwintered "Dinosaur" kale. The ultimate goal would be an insect resistant, locally adapted type that could be used for greens, then overwintered to provide a Spring broccoli crop too.