Mark Reed

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since Mar 19, 2020
I grow stuff
SE Indiana
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Recent posts by Mark Reed

Our weather has stayed so nice I haven't made it inside much yet. All the firewood is stacked and covered. Both gardens cleaned up and practically ready to plant next year.

My winter is always filled with lot of books. Also getting back to teaching myself to sew fur hats. Got all the appropriate tools now I think and a couple sheep skins and some rabbit pelts. Started experimenting last winter on patterns and stitching using some pieces of an old rug, didn't want to screw up and ruin my pelts on the first try.

{add} I forgot, I'm putting together content to make a web site about my adventures breeding sweet potatoes.  I have years of pictures, research and my own forum posts. I'm thinking it's time organize and chronical it all in one place.  
18 hours ago
Probability of an event is easily calculated provided of course, you have the relevant numbers to start with. Risk however can only be calculated instinctually or emotionally. That's just my take on it, kind of a rose is a rose situation I reckon.  

Very low probability x even serious consequences = low risk.
Vey high probability x negligible consequences again = low risk.
Increased probability x increased consequential severity = increased risk.

18 hours ago
I have chemical sensitivity, it's awful. It isn't the same as what people with allergies seem to experience or describe. I feel like I can't breath, the front of my face above my eyes and nose feel uncomfortable or even hurt. Almost anything that comes from an aerosol can, spray paint, some so called disinfectants, things like WD40, insecticides such as Raid and insect repellants. One of the worst is some apparently common ingredient in many perfumes and colognes. I can detect the presence of that chemical outside from many yards away. If I'm in a room and someone comes in with it I have to leave.

It may be also psychosomatic to some degree I suppose but mostly it is actual. Degree of symptoms is proportional to the amount of exposure. However I have on many occasions experienced symptoms when the actual exposure was so small I didn't even smell it, well actually describing it as a smell isn't completely accurate. One time at an outdoor party I started getting sick and found out later someone on the other side of the house had sprayed insect repellent. Once at a meeting I had shook hands with someone I was introduced to before going in. After the meeting started I began feeling like I couldn't breath, soon I figured out there was something on my hand. I went to the bathroom but it wouldn't wash off. It was on the papers I had with me and my coffee cup. I threw it all away and drove home with all the windows down. I put a moratorium on holding hands with strangers a long time ago, just don't feel the need for physical contact, a simple nice to meet you is sufficient. As a rule if a person I meet is looks perfectly groomed, crisply pressed shirt and tie, not a single hair out of place, shiny shoes, stepping of of a $60,000 car, until I learn otherwise I regard them the same way I would a super fund site and stay as far away as possible. Maybe it's stereotypical but safe than sorry, as they say.

I don't know about the COVID or vitamin D or the mask thing as it relates to smell. I know lots of people who seem to rarely go outside anyway unless their destination doesn't have a parking garage so I don't see a big difference.      

1 day ago
I love this kind of little thought exercises. First I'll say that to me, risk is a product of how likely how likely it is the event will occur and what are the consequences if it does.  For this specific scenario I'll address your questions as presented.

As an individual living in the range, would you choose to stay in place, or evacuate? What does your instinct tell you?
At this point I have no information other than that missiles will be fired so very hard to determine what to do. However it is unlikely or at least hopefully unlikely that they will fire missiles at peoples houses. Evacuation really isn't called for. There is of course the possibility of accidents such as when at the US Army Proving ground a distance from my house, artillery shells or aerial bombs fell outside the range.

What data might you want to know, if you were going to attempt to quantify the risk of staying put?
I want to know: When, for obvious reasons. Range, so I can see if my house is in it. Trajectory, again so I can see if my house is in line. Live payload and explosive yield or dummy so I know if it is going to explode or just hit the ground?

What about quantifying the risk of evacuation?
Need answers to the above questions first. Could be the risk of getting in an accident or something while evacuating is greater that the risk of staying put.

Which of staying in place and evacuation do you think is more risky, and by how much (eg 10 times more dangerous? 1000 times more dangerous?)
Again, can't say at this point, need the additional information first.  

There is one huge risk! Just the idea of this, not to mention the effects of on nerves, windows, animals when exposed to the percussion of military explosives even if miles away, property values are going to crash, even outside the prescribed range.  
They are quite common here. I have never done anything with them except eat them as found. Ripe ones, actually just a frog hair short of rotten found on the ground are generally quite good. Many say they are not good at all until after a freeze, there is some truth to that. By far the best are the ones that don't drop off at all but sort of freeze dry on the tree. For all I know they may have fermented a little along the way to drying, in any case they are pretty amazing flavor wise but not easy to get as they are still high up in the trees.

I have heard of persimmon pudding but have never had it. Maybe you could dry them as is and they would be a little like described above or I imagine they might make a nice jam.
6 days ago
Another re-post from the other forum where we talk about sweet potatoes

Quote from: --------- on Yesterday at 04:51:47 AM
"So, could hydroponically grown slips be a viable alternative to bulking up seed?"

It's easy to make slips from any growing vine. It could be in an actual hydroponic system or just a glass of water on a windowsill or growing in the ground or pot in a greenhouse. Any section of vine at least a couple inches long with a leaf joint will root and in a little wile be big enough to make still more slips from it. And by then you can get more from the older one.  It isn't a substitute for seeds though cause it still requires keeping either a plant or roots alive during the off season.

Quote from: ---------- on Yesterday at 04:51:47 AM
"If that's the case, maybe I could get some slips from you guys who have reliable seed setting varieties,  but not enough seed to share. Or I could attempt it on my own. Are the ornamental varieties better at seed set? Is there better seed set with different varieties vs selfed?"

I don't really make the distinction between ornamental and culinary anymore. All it means is if they make useable sized storage roots or not and that I think is just another variable trait in the species. I do think my initial luck in the project was because of the chance discovery of a self fertile "ornamental" and that trait got passed into my overall grex but most existing varieties are not self fertile. I don't really know the percentage of mine that are because I grow them all in a polyculture.

Quote from: --------- on Yesterday at 04:51:47 AM
"I only check this thread occasionally,  so I'm not sure what the state of this project is at this point in time. How are you all getting along with it?"

Currently the "turning sweet potatoes into a seed grown annual" project is largely complete. This year I planted seeds directly in the ground and had about 30% germination within a couple of weeks. That was enough and fast enough to more than fill my planting area. Many that didn't come up fast enough were just left crowded in the planting bed, some ended up blooming but most came up too late to make much roots. A smaller number planted at the same time in a cold frame had about 70% germination in time to plant out but I didn't have enough space and favored the direct planted ones.

There are still lots of questions I'd like to answer but not likely to be able to, especially concerning compatibility. Who is self fertile and why? Who is compatible with one or more particular other and not another and why? Who is compatible with one or more other but only in one direction?  Are there any that are compatible with most or all others? Are self fertile ones compatible with others as a rule or are most of their seeds selfed? And lots of others like how are traits passed on?

I doubt I will ever know those answers cause it is just way more than I could do to answer them and the university scientists don't seem to care or if they do they don't seem to write about it. They just do large scale polycross looking for the next one to patent as a clone. They don't care about garden scale growing from seed.

From what I read pretty much all traits are quantitive so I have just been applying what I call genetic distillation, trying to  cull out those that don't make nice roots, that have giant vines, don't bloom well or don't taste good. Stuff I can do just by looking and tasting, no need for microscopes, DNA tests and mountains of records.

This year I ended up with about 20 that meet most or all of my favored criteria. I archived most of my seeds in sealed test tubes, inside stainless steel canisters buried in the ground. Next year I'm planning on growing mostly just clones of those 20 with hope to make a new elite line of seeds.

State of the seeds right now is roughly. A single seed has about a 30% chance of sprouting within two weeks planted directly in the ground. That plant has probably a 95% chance that it will bloom and set seed, assuming it has an appropriate partner or is self fruitful. It has about a 70% chance that it will make nice roots and seeds within 100 days of sprouting. Probably 70% chance it will have bushy rather than large vine growth habit. I won't venture a guess on lots of other things like color, flavor and so on.

I am hopeful that the seeds produced next year will reveal all kinds of wonder things in 2022. Also I'm making more effort next year to give them better soil and take better care of them so as to learn their real potential as far as yield. If any of of those 20 show superior there I might also clone them again in 2022.

"What a long strange trip it's been"
1 week ago
I've finally gotten around to sorting my corn. Still don't know for sure how I want to go on next year so I think I'm going to keep it on the ears so I won't forget details about particular ones.

I ultimately want a flint or at least mostly flint. I also want uniform color on any single ear but varied color between ears so I made sure the mix had lots of variation in the pericarp. And It's real important to have resistance to the fall worms that I found in the Mexican landrace, Zapalote Chico. Toward that end all of my corn from this year is 1/2 ZC and 1/2 something else with the crosses going both ways. It wasn't random though, I grew two plots of each type and detassed and hand pollinated. That was last year and those seeds were grown random this year.

I don't want any aleurone color in my corn as it can vary between kernels on the same ear and ruin the uniformity of an individual ear. Variation of endosperm between yellow and white can do that too but I prefer white and some of the varieties grown this year had yellow or even orange. I did that on purpose to get more diversity into my initial seeds and don't se it as much of a problem as white is recessive and therefore easy to select for in later generations. I'm not so sure about the orange because I think it has to do with carotene content and think it may not be related to they yellow/white relationship, I just don't know. In any event the high carotene stains I used have other characteristics that I do what so if it is a problem I'll deal with it later. The yellow/white endosperm, assuming absence of aleurone color shows up easily enough even under dark pericarp as two different shades.

I didn't know how aleurone color was inherited and still don't really but I think it must be recessive as I had a little bit of it show up even though no seed with aleurone color was planted.

The ZC has rather short conical ears in and in crossing to varieties with long slender ears and drastically different numbers of rows I didn't know what would come out. I was afraid maybe I'd get long ears that stuck out the shucks or something awful like that but happily that didn't happen. It seems, without enough evidence to know for sure that the structure of the ear as in length, number and tightness of the shucks, number of kernel rows follows mostly from the mother. ZC mothers produced for the most the conical ears and the others in line with their mothers. Pericarp color, color in the stalks and tassels, height of the plants seems to have mixed up pretty randomly. Time to blooming also varied widely but enough were in the "early group" to select them primarily as next years seed. Fast maturity is another weapon against the fall worms as they don't get here till at least mid August. The chemical compound found in ZC that inhibits the worms is important in case I plant the patch late or maybe grow more than one successive crop he same year. Maybe even two generations the same year, I have had some success at that already.

Anyway my seed for next year is far from a pure flint, lots more work to do. I was thinking though once I get the ZC anti worm trait well established in a more flinty mix I can toss in more pure flints later.

In my selection of this yea's seed first I eliminated the really tall and long maturity plants although I imagine some of their pollen sneaked in anyway.  As I was sorting the ears I also discarded the whole ear of any that had a seed with aleurone color because if I'm correct that it is recessive then all the seeds of that ear were carrying it.

Then I dumped most but not all that had a little bit of ear worm damage. I would like to have discarded them all but some have really nice pericarp color that I want to make sure is fully integrated in to mix, I'll just have to deal with the consequences of that late. The plants with ZC mothers seemed to pick up pinks and chinmark pattern in the pericarp much more that the oranges and reds in this generation.

So what I got left is a little under fifty ears, all very well mixed and all 1/2 ZC in one direction or the other.

1 week ago
Ha, I was exaggerating a little. I meant it the person was 20 feet tall the dahlias might have been waist high. Actually they were in range of four to six feet and spread nearly than much, side branches broke under the weight of rain.  The Mignon type that I got from Baker Creek were described at 18 - 24 inches but most of them get about three feet, maybe a little more. I envy you folks out in PNW for some of the interesting things you can grow. On the other hand I can grow some things you can't so guess it all works out.  

The seeds I got from Baker Creek were advertised as being eatable but I doubt anyone has really been breeding them specifically for that. Out of about fifty the first year I had eight that didn't taste too bad. Two of those survived the winter buried under some leaves. I'm using those two as breeding material. The first year they grew large clumps of roots that I replanted intact. That was a mistake as they did not grow many new ones this year, the old ones just got bigger and all scabby and ragged looking. Probably better to divide and plant individually to encourage new fresh ones instead.
How about mustard greens? They grow like weeds here too and the volunteers out there right now are fine eating since they have been frosted a few times. Oca and other crops of similar origin would never grow here I'm sure.

A crop I've dabbled with a little bit though is dahlias they grow great and like sweet potatoes produce large roots from seed. I have two that I've saved for replanting that don't taste quite as much like perfume as most. I just started with a pack of seed from Baker Creek, I think they were called Mignon dahlias. They make probably two pounds of roots per plant from seed. Some seeds I got from Lofthouse produced even more but they tried to take over the world. He described them as getting waist high I think, may be if your 20 feet tall. Apparently dahlias like my soil and climate. Not yet convinced though on their value for food.
Unfortunately I am pretty ignorant on the important aspects of producing a balanced diet. I know it generally, fresh food is good for you but never delved into the real details. Joseph Lofthouse recommended Clary Sage for Omega 3. I got some and it grew like a weed, got about 4 feet tall and bushy, made tons of seeds. We didn't like it cause the whole plant has a weird unpleasant smell but it self seeded and there is a lot of it out there.  Birds got most of the seed and I think every one they missed is now growing. I'm going to transplant it out of the garden proper and keep it around, looks like something that will establish basically wild if given just a little help. it sprouts easy, transplants easy and resists removal. It's a weed but maybe a good one.  I guess the seeds are the source of the Omega acid. It is also another great plant for green mulch.

How about fish? I'm much better at that and enjoy it more than hunting. I don't think our fish have the good fats like salmon but they are tasty.

You mentioned sweeting the dandelions, where we gonna get sweetener, sugar caneoops sorghum ?  It grows good here, and I guess there is honey, I've thought about that but never tired it. Or maybe maple syrup but goodness that's a lot of work.

I've researched sweet potatoes a lot, mostly as it relates to breeding but along the way have come across other info. I guess the greens are regarded as some kind of superfood, unfortunately I don't like them all that much. I could get over that though, need be.