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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rosa palustris gland hairs

I've mentioned before how this clone of Rosa palustris has glandular scented flowerbuds (and hips), but I don't know if I've stressed just how glandular it is. Check out the sticky droplets on these ripening hips. I collected a few so I can send seeds to someone and this is what my fingers looked like afterwards. I wish I could post the smell!
Only trouble is, it didn't wash off with soap and water. I ended up having to use rubbing alcohol to get the "glue" off.
But now maybe you can see why I wanted to see what would come from crossing this with glutinosa - another sticky, strongly-scented species.

Hibiscus grandiflorus again

First bloom of the year opened the night before last [Sept.24] on Hibiscus grandiflorus. Here's the second bloom opening last night (first picture) and still open this morning (second picture). I found a one stray late bloom on 'Old Yella' and another on 'Blue River II' and kept them in the refrigerator for a week or two to use them to pollinate grandiflorus. The third picture shows how 'Blue River II' has already matured most of its pods. 'Moy Grande' in the fourth picture has even already dropped all of its foliage and is going dormant. The last picture shows how well the new hybrid seedling has grown - it's the one from 'Blue River II' x grandiflorus, that I worked so hard to get last year. I'm considering trying to root a piece just as insurance in case something happens to this seedling.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Corn backcross ear

Now that it's drying down, you can more easily see how there are about 50:50 normal kernels to shriveled/sweet kernels. Last year, I detassled 'Japonica Striped Flint' and pollinated in by our own colorful sweet corn population (of very mixed ancestry). I planted the seed from those ears this year and detassled the resulting F1 plants. When pollinated by our colorful sweet corn again, the ears look like the picture. The sweet kernels will be what we'll plant nest season. From that point on, all the kernels on all the ears should be sweet. Simple as that - a significant amount of 'Japonica Striped Flint' influence can be brought into our sweets. Even though none of the hybrid seedlings has expressed the recessive striped foliage gene, I'm betting a few of these shrunken kernels are carriers and will allow me to recover that trait in another generation.

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) pale form

This is the second year I've seen a couple of these pale forms among the normal orange jewelweeds. The red spotting is still the same but it's over a pale yellow (almost white) background so it has an overall pink look. There were only two plants this year. I've collected a dozen seeds so we can try to germinate them in pots next Spring.

Rosa palustris

Here's how the swamp rose (Rosa palustris) currently looks - it hardly loses a leaf all season! I collected this clone when I was just a kid, from a boggy area near where I grew up. This area had visible standing water for most of the winter months and was still relatively moist throughout the drier summer months. Yet, it withstands upland drier conditions pretty well too. Hips should be ready to shell out and send soon [Simon ;0)]. I'll e-mail you for shipping details.

Hazelnut Harvest 2012

The American Hazelnuts bushes have been harvested. We'd already eaten a few but the remaining total is about 9 pounds (in the shell) - compared to the mere plateful last year. And from what I've read about typical yields, and considering that most of the bushes are still pretty small (and had no nuts or only a few), I think we're going to be swamped with nuts in a few years. We've got 44 bushes and average yield is supposed to be about 1.5 pounds/year. So 60-70 pounds shouldn't be too surprising! Having hand-husked these 9 pounds, I think we're going to have to set up something like Don Price's Bucket Husker (found plans by Googling) to deal with them in the future. It would be great to have some kind of sheller too, but that doesn't bother me as much because we can just shell them a little here, a little there, as we use them.
These American Hazelnuts are a little small compared to the European type sold in the grocery stores but they're still pretty tasty. We found a method for de-skinning the shelled nuts by boiling in 2 cups of boiling water with 3 TBSP baking soda added, for a few minutes. The water turns black and the nuts can be skimmed out into cold water where the skins will just slip right off. The skins don't have to be removed, but can be a little bitter. Anyway, after skinning and drying, we roasted for 15-20 minutes at 300 Fahrenheit. They sure were good!

Some rose seeds

Some seeds harvested yesterday... the first plate is from two hips of Rosa glutinosa that resulted from pollen of Rosa fedtschenkoana - should give some interesting scented-foliage offspring. The second plate gives an idea how "fertility-challenged" my F1 (glutinosa X palustris) hybrid seedling is. These seeds (around 30) came from about two dozen open-pollinated hips. Most of these hips contained only one single seed. Just a few had two, and one hada whopping four. Actually most of the hips had aborted soon after petal drop, presumably because they didn't have any seeds at all. So... I wonder who the pollen parent of these seeds might be and what ploidy (and fertility they'll have). Rosa glutinosa is supposed to be a Caninae type pentaploid and palustris is a diploid. The F1 should be pentaploid too, but whether or not the Caninae type meiosis held up in the hybrid could make for some unusual happenings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rosa davidii X virginiana

The F1 hybrid Rosa davidii X virginiana bloomed well for the first time back in early summer, but although some hips looked promising for a while, all but one dropped well before maturity. Here's that lone ripe hip and the only seed it contained (inset). I would have expected this hybrid to be more fertile than this considering that both parent species are tetraploids. I even tried Rosa fedtschenkoana pollen on some flowers and none of those worked either. This year Rosa fedtschenkoana set hips on Rosa davidii itself, so all I can figure is that this F1 is taking after its pollen parent (Rosa virginiana) in being so reluctant to set hips from foreign pollens - and in this case even its own pollen! I wonder who the lucky papa of this lone seed was. Hopefully it'll germinate so I can get some idea.

Helianthus hybrid

Well, the Jerusalem artichoke is finally opening some blooms at about 10 feet tall (tall stalks on the right in first picture). The F1 hybrid (Jerusalem artichoke X 'Red Sun' sunflower) is still blooming like crazy at about 7 feet (mass of blooms to the left). The second picture shows the hybrid in closer detail. It was especially pretty this morning against the brilliant blue of the sky.

F1 Cowpea again

Here are some more seeds collected from  the F1 cowpeas ("Black Eyed Pea" X 'Tetapeche Grey Mottle Cowpea'). Although they all have some small spots/speckles without black pigment, on the left are some with large sectors that lost the black pigment and let the grey mottling underneath show through. It'll be fun to see what kind of variations will show up next season.

Lycoris radiata - Red Spider Lily

Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) is always such a cool surprise when it sneaks into bloom.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


These flowers are so different looking that you probably wouldn't think they're even from the same genus -but they are both Impatiens.
Towards the end of summer, I bought two six-packs of white bedding Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) from Wal-Mart for 80 cents total. What a bargain! I put them all in one big pot and they've really taken off. I know there's hardly any chance that they'll cross with the native Jewelweed ( Impatiens capensis), but what's it gonna hurt to try.
First picture shows the two radically different Impatiens flowers. The top flower of jewelweed has its spur petal split open so that you can better see the internal spotting.

In the second picture, I used "Paint" and crudely cut and pasted pieces from a picture of dissected flowers to show the corresponding parts of the two.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

F1 Cowpeas

Last year I intercrossed grocery store "black-eyed-pea" with 'Tetapeche Grey Mottled Cowpea' in both directions. The F1 have grown with unbelievable vigor but have been reluctant to flower and set seed. These are all that have matured so far. The first picture shows how the seeds are packed into the long pods. In the second picture, the parents are the two outer piles The F1 hybrid is the pile at bottom center. As they dried down completely, they got a little smaller and less shiny, but still ended up being noticeably bigger than the parents. If you can't tell from the picture, the have a little bit of light grey speckling over the jet black background.

Radish seedlings

I put the radish seeds in Wednesday last week and here's what they looked like Monday (5 days later). These are seeds from 'Long Black Spanish' and 'Roseheart' roots that I grew last Fall and then overwintered in the refrigerator in a ziplock bag. I'm hoping some intercrossing occurred and I'll find some F1 hybrids among these seedlings. I like the cool looking purplish-tinted foliage ones - I wonder if that's linked to any other trait like root flesh color? This year I also planted 'Round Black Spanish' and daikon to add to the mix.

Helianthus hybrid

I guess I sound like a broken record with this one, but sheez it just won't stop blooming!
It's mama was Jerusalem artichoke (a perennial tuberous sunflower used as a vegetable); it's papa was the annual 'Red Sun' sunflower. I was hoping for red-flowered (or eye-zoned) perennial but instead I got this very long blooming perennial hybrid. It started in late June and hasn't been without blooms ever since. Two months plus! In the first picture, it's on the left and the mama is on the right (still working on making buds - no open flower yet).

Colorful Sweet Corns

Colorful sweet corn is not really very colorful at the eating stage - most of the color doesn't develop until its past prime. Still it's fun corn to grow. Nearly 20 years ago, I found an ear of decorative  "Indian Corn" in a farmer's market bin, that had a small percentage of shriveled (sugary/sweet) kernels. I grew a row of this dark red kerneled, purple husked type and detassled it letting 'Golden Bantam' and 'Incredible' sweet corns pollinate it. I only saved the shriveled kernels and those have been the foundation of our line up until now.
Last season, I detassled 'Japonica Striped' and 'Piamonte Orange Flint' and pollinated them by our colorful sweets. We grew the F1 this year and detassled again, backcrossing colorful sweet pollen on them. These are the ears we got. When they dry down 50% of the kernels should be shriveled/sweets.
The first two pictures are the Japonica derived ears the third is the Piamonte derived. You can see some of the shriveled kernels starting to show on the ears in the close-up (second picture).