Category Archives: Breeding

Local runner bean landrace

I’ve started work on a local landrace of runner beans / blomsterbønner (Phaseolus coccineus). I sowed yesterday 15 varieties that are the earliest varieties I could find from commercial suppliers and the German genebank IPK Gatersleben! Runner beans are marginal here, only ripening with warm frost-free autumn weather, preferably against a warm south facing wall!
Thanks to Raphael Maier who told me that the IPK Gatersleben have phenological data for part of their collection of over 400 runner beans. I therefore looked for early flowering and early ripening data when selecting varieties.
The assumption is that it will eventually get warm enough to plant them outside at the community garden Væres Venner where I will run the trial! Currently still only maximum 8C and the 10 day forecast shows much of the same with low pressure dominated weather and only a slight increase to 10C.

Broad Bean Mix

Broad beans (favas / bondebønner) will easily cross with other varieties that are growing nearby.  In order to keep a variety pure, you need to isolate them physically. I like to have different varieties with different coloured flowers and bean colour in additon to maintaining early yielding varieties such as Express. I’ve found that I can plant different forms close together and if I save separately beans with different colour and bean size and mark for saving plants with particularly nice flower colours, then I can maintain a good mix in the same place. The flower forms below are all growing within a few metres in the Væres Venner community garden. They were grown from the mix of beans saved at the same place in 2018 (first picture). I don’t offer the different forms as named varieties, but as a mix or composite “Væres Venner Mix” so that others can also select for separate forms! Bumble bees were all over the flowers when I was there!

Caraway root breeding and Karvekaalsuppe

I’ve been selecting caraway (Carum carvi) through 4 generations now for larger roots. I plan to have a larger number of plants from next year at our community garden (Væres Venner). I selected 5 plants for seed yesterday and they were quite a decent size. The remainder with the greens were used in a delicious karvekaalsuppe (caraway soup) yesterday with sand leek / bendelløk (Allium scorodoprasum). I plan to offer seed from this selection in KVANN’s (Norwegian Seed Savers) autumn catalogue!

Breeding swifts?

Working in the garden today and I was surprised by two swifts flying low behind the house and one entered an old starling box on the outhouse….
I’ve been trying to attract swifts (tårnseiler) for years to the house and have one swift box higher on the main house, but they chose this instead!
In the video you can hear the bird “screaming” quietly and another sound….could this be chicks?..strange I haven’t noticed this before, but I’ve been away a lot and I have seen two birds flying low in the same area a couple of times this summer (latest last weekend) and also last summer on several occasions (presumably prospecting). After the one bird left I could hear noises in the nest (I didn’t see both birds enter the box)

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Mandy Barber’s Incredible Vegetables and The Field

Hablitzia patties for lunch!

Well, not only Mandy’s plot, a group of local people in Ashburton, Devon got together to buy The Field a few years ago to grow vegetables communally! It is truly an inspiration to see how productive what was sheep pasture can actually be!! We need much more of this and I’m imagining the hills around covered in Andean tuber crops in a few years from now rather than sheep!!
It was great to meet you all and a big bonus that Owen and good lady made the journey up from Cornwall to join us!!
More pictures in the album below!
See Mandy’s blog of my visit here:

3rd year Paolo JA crosses

P1510276 P1510270 P1510277This is the 3rd year of growing Paolo Gaiardelli‘s first year Dayneutral x wild Italian crosses – harvested today! I’ve selected 5 interesting looking tubers to grow for a 4th year before deciding whether to keep them!

Here’s a Norwegian article about the project: