There are a lot of moving pieces here, and a number of breeding projects and ideas being worked out. Here are a few that I hope will be able to eventually offer knowledge or plant material to share.
Starting with a strain of perennial wheat, I’m learning how to effectively integrate perennial grains into diverse natural farming and permaculture plantings. The goal is to not only grow grains, but to take advantage of the enormous benefit that deep perennial roots can give to an ecosystem, and to do so with integrated nitrogen fixing cover crops for high yield.
In addition, I’ll be carrying out breeding (selection and cross-breeding experiments) work to hopefully improve the suitability of the grains for this context.
More details are available on the Perennial Grains page.
Sonchus species breeding
Sonchus is a genus of plants closely related to Taraxacum, home genus of the common dandelion. They are commonly referred to as “Sow thistles”, and like dandelions are a very nutritious edible green. When I see particularly vigorous Sonchus growing as weeds, I dig them up and bring them home. The first step of breeding is selection!
I’m also pursuing another track of this project: working towards increasingly cold-hardy Sonchus species native to the Canary Islands. These shrubs are commonly called “tree dandelions”, because they look like a dandelion that is a tree. There are reports of some of them living as dieback perennials through frosts. And as long as I can get survivors in our climate, I’ll be able to breed forwards towards increased hardiness – with the dream of having fully frost tolerant tree dandelions. My neighbors will love me for it, I’m sure…
More details are available on the Sonchus breeding page.
I’ll flesh out these projects more as I have time…
- Garlic true seed, and domestication of crow garlic
- Frost-tolerant and disease hardy landrace potatoes from true seed
- Blight resistant, self-seeding tomatoes
- Pest resistant squash
- Feral landraces: I’m growing herbs and foodcrops under conditions of almost complete neglect. The goal is to have stable feral populations to provide resilience genetic pools for seeding marginal, unmaintained areas, and as breeding stock for other projects.
- Straw-walled Warre beehive (just a concept at the moment)
- Zone 7/8 hardy tree collards, moringa, chaya, and okinawa spinach
- Zone 7/8 hardy avocados, bananas, and breadfruit… in increasing order of fantasy. This is really just a dream, I’m not working on these. Yet?