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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hardy Chicago Fig - indoors

Kept this cutting inside because it wasn't quite as developed as the others. It finally took off and now it's thriving under the lights in the basement. It's even making a bunch of figs! I wonder if they'll ripen successfully without summer sun.

Survivors - Cabbage x Glossy Kale

I had planted a solid jungle of these (so thick at first that you couldn't even see the layer of sand I use to keep fungus gnats at bay). They're from 'Stonehead' cabbage that had gone to seed. My glossy kale/collards were in bloom at the same time and I was hoping to recover some hybrids among them. Well... sadly, "damping off" fungal disease ran rampant through the bunch and laid nearly all of them to waste. These are the only glossy ones that survived the onslaught.
This sort of challenge may explain [note to Joseph] why my Brassica lines might tend to have some extra robustness built in.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some roses

Here's how one of the transplanted suckers of Rosa rugosa x xanthina  is looking right now. [the name is a link to an older post with more details] Notice the missing end of the shoot and ends of the leaves. That's the handiwork of the resident deer herd. Doesn't seem to matter to them that it's right up near the house either.
 Here's the super-healthy foliage (although a little nipped by frost) of one of my favorite seedlings I've raised - Rosa multiflora x rugosa. Actually this is a rooted cutting, which I started because I was afraid I might lose this mother plant when I had to move it back in the Spring. It'll be good to have a duplicate now for safety sake anyway.

Check out how lush and healthy Rosa laevigata is currently. I'm hoping this means I'll get some flowers in the Spring so I can try (yet again) to get some crosses from it. It's such a cool species!

Cricket Song still going

 Well, the other clump was a little late getting started for its rebloom season because it was a little overshadowed by neighboring plants... but it's kind of nice because it's picking up where the other clump is leaving off.

First Pomegranate Seedling

Last Fall we tried planting the seeds directly in the ground - I was hoping they'd come up in the Spring but we got no seedlings at all. Already, indoors is working much better. Here's the first of what I hope will be a whole batch of  'Russian' pomegranate seedlings. It would be fun to see what kind of variation in cold-hardiness and fruit quality they'd have.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Deer [pretty but pretty destructive too]

First picture shows two of the lesser bucks that have been hanging around. The second and third pictures are of the bigger buck that has staked out his claim to the area. Fourth picture shows what's left of the 'Winner's Circle' rose I'd just planted out Monday evening. It had been full of orange hips and densely-foliaged. Good thing it had thorns or there might not be anything left LOL
The last picture shows the recent gouge marks one of those bucks has put into the bark of our Yoshino cherry. I'd thought that it had grown big enough to not be a good scraping tree anymore - they seem to prefer broom handle diameter stuff around here. I put my foot in the picture to show how big the trunk is. The right hand part of the picture is of the back side of that same tree trunk showing old scars from when the tree was much younger. I'd wrapped it for a few years after that first incident, but the last couple of years they've seemed to leave it alone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Radish Breeding Report

Well, the Fall radishes did so much better this year by getting them into the ground a little earlier (I think it was August 29th). We planted a long row of seeds that we'd saved from 'Long Black Spanish' and a short row that we'd saved from 'Roseheart'. After thinning and selectively favoring any purple foliaged types, the LBS row ended up being about 50:50 split between normal LBS and F1 hybrids from 'Roseheart' intercrosses. All but one of the 'Roseheart' row were F1 hybrids.
The first picture shows how lush they'd grown. They had just been nipped by the frost a little.
The second picture shows two LBS (top left) and the lone 'Roseheart' (top right), below them are five F1 hybrids between these two varieties.
The third picture (below) shows the variation in shape and size among the F1s. They're on a large pizza box to give you an idea what size they are. 
The nest two pictures below show Roseheart (left), LBS (right) and F1 between them. 

We decided to try some "French" style - sliced and sprinkled with salt, on top of buttered bread. It really does cancel out some of the heat - pretty tasty this way!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pomegranate response to cooler weather

'Russian' pomegranate (on the left) turned pretty Fall yellow a few weeks ago and has dropped all its foliage already now. In contrast, 'Nana' (on right) is still quite green and doesn't seem to realize that really cold weather is coming. That could be the reason why its frozen to the ground every year here while 'Russian' seems to be doing just fine. 'Russian' only had a little freeze damage the first year in the ground and has even fruited for two years now. 

F1 Hybrid and 'Long Black Spanish' radish

These two radishes were both grown from seed off of the 'Long Black Spanish' radishes that I overwintered in a ziplock in the fridge last winter. The one on the left HAS to be from an intercross with the couple of 'Roseheart' (green-skinned, pink-fleshed). Since it's supposed to be so nice out today, we're planning to dig all the rest. I'll be sure to get some more pictures showing both parent types and the hybrids. There should be quite a few hybrids because when I thinned the row, I tried to save as many of the purple-foliaged ones as I could - see the purple leaf stalk on the hybrid vs. the totally green leaf stalks of the normal 'Long Black Spanish'.

Deer and Fall radishes (sounds like dinner)

A few of the "reasons" why its always such a gamble trying to grow anything around here - also, why  I don't think I'll ever be breeding for thornlessness in roses. I just planted some relatively unarmed roses ('Commander Gillette',  'Basye's Legacy' and 'Basye's Blueberry' that I got from Burlington Rose Nusery). 'Basye's Blueberry' has already literally been grazed to ground level! I'm definitely going to have to cover these with cages if I expect them to have any chance of getting started.
The lush line of green at their feet is a row of 'Long Black Spanish' storage type radishes (with F1 hybrids among them from intercrossing with 'Roseheart' pink-fleshed radish). The deer were browsing these when they were just starting out but thankfully have left them alone when they got a little bigger. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pomegranate seeds

I tried planting some of the Russian pomegranate seeds directly in the ground last Fall and didn't get a single seedling. I didn't know if it was the cold or because I dried them before planting. Whatever the case, it was time to try something different. So I put the fresh seeds with any leftover pulp still attached into a zip-lock and let it ferment a couple of days. I then rinsed the rotted pulp off with a kitchen sprayer (in a wire mesh strainer). Back into the bag for a couple more days wet fermenting and another rinse. Yesterday I noticed that one seed had started to split and a root was peeking out, so they all went into potting soil in the basement. I'll let you know how it works this time. Here are the clean wet seeds right before planting.

'Cricket Song' reblooming MTB iris

'Cricket Song' reblooming MTB iris still in bloom this evening, after sparkly-frosted grass this morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rosa rugosa X xanthina

Adam's questions prompted me to look up these old pictures and post about this old hybrid.
Adam asked "Could you tell me more about this cross. Did you get a lot of seedlings out of this cross or just a few? What rugosa did you use? Have you breed anything out of it or did it turn out to be sterile?"
The rugosa I used was just an unnamed typical single-flowered, magenta/fuschia colored type. I always thought of it as "generic" rugosa. It's the same rugosa I've used as parent of pretty much all of my rugosa species crosses. Rosa xanthina pollen gave me big hips with lots of seeds and good germination. [A few years later I tried using the similar Rosa primula on the same rugosa and got no hips set at all.] All of the seedlings I raised to maturity were so similar that I couldn't tell them apart. They often  have a faint brushing of pink on the edges of the petals while still in bud, but you can't see any of this in the open flowers. The old [2004] photos below are kind of washed out by the bright sunlight but almost give you an idea of the color - a pale butter yellow. The scent is moderately strong and reminds me of Scotch rose scent. Actually I've always thought that this hybrid seems to want to follow Hurst septet theories - it has a lot of the characteristics of Rosa piminellifolia.
As for prickliness, the bottoms of the plant are fairly well armed but the prickles nearly disappear on the upper parts of the plant. Some of the tip top growth is nearly thornless.
As you might expect, this hybrid has never set even a single hip. It does make a little pollen and years ago I collected a bunch and used it for backcrossing onto the rugosa parent. I got hips and seeds but never germinated them (my fault, not the seeds). So as infertile as it seems, there is hope that it isn't a complete dead end. Once upon a time I also had what I believe was a partially converted branch (using trifluralin to induce polyploidy). The leaflet shape and substance had changed (rounder, thicker and crinkled) and the three flower buds I got to see were chunkier also. Sadly, that branch died back from some kind of canker shortly after flowering.
I dug a couple suckers from the original plant, still growing at my parents' house and planted them here last year. They're settling in nicely but haven't built up very much yet. I'll try to get accurate color pictures whenever it blooms.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

V3 - Rosa virginiana

Sadly I don't think this clone survived the move. It was labeled "V3" when I received it in an exchange of native tetraploid clones [with Roger Mitchell if I'm remembering right???] many years ago. This one was the pollen parent that I used on my 'Fragrant Cloud' X Rosa carolina hybrid to give me the one I call "3/4 Native". This year I collected a boatload of open-pollinated seeds from "3/4 Native" hoping that at least a few, by some crazy luck of the draw, might germinate and turn out to be repeat bloomers.

Rosa glauca x xanthina

Had chuckle when I saw this old photo. I had great hopes for this cross. I envisioned a salmon/peachy flower over glauca-type greyish-purple foliage. Wouldn't that have been nice?
Unfortunately, this combination of species wasn't very successful at all. The weak and runty seedling never flowered even once in all the years I had it (at least 6 or 7) and it didn't even really build up any. In the picture, you can see the stumps of old growth that died back. I eventually tried it in the ground and that was the end of it.

Maize X Gamagrass

I was looking for another old picture and happened to run across these ones of a hybrid I raised from pollen of gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) on 'Strawberry Popcorn'. It suffered miserably indoors over each winter so I was never able to get it to flower. Eventually I lost it. If I knew back then what I know now, I'd have tried the inverted trashcan trick on it. One of these days I'll have to repeat this cross. First picture shows the seedling in early September of 2003. Second picture shows all of the rooted tillers I got from it a month later in October 2003. I tried wintering these indoors and the third picture shows how the lone survivor looked in September 2004 after having spent the growing season in the ground.