Mark Reed

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since Mar 19, 2020
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Recent posts by Mark Reed

I found another photo pf the big red ear showing the color of the cob. Also, what happened to some kernels when they were parched on a hot iron skillet. Only a few did that, but all were very good that way.
2 hours ago
Not much grows in the winter but a feller still has to eat. Are there any requirements for processing and storing the food? I've recently been rethinking some of my crops with a focus more on things that need little of anything other than a place to store them. For examples, dry beans and corn and in my case sweet potatoes rather than squash or potatoes. I sure miss my squash and taters but, in my garden, sweet potatoes are so much easier.  
6 hours ago
I buy sunflower seed to feed the birds, but I only put it out on very cold and or snowy days. We have lot of Easten Red Cedar trees and I notice lots of birds take shelter in them. The biggest thing I have for the birds, and I didn't think about them when I put it in is my little garden pond. It has a small pond part deep enough not to freeze solid and a pump going to a little stream section. Water in the stream is very shallow but has never frozen, even when ice on the pond part is 6 inches thick. I do sometimes have to remove an ice crust and snow from the stream.

On very cold days that little stream attracts many more birds and many and more kinds of birds than I ever see anywhere else. Also, the squirrels, chipmunks and one time a bob cat. Unfrozen water, if it's very cold out is apparently of great interest to about any critter.
9 hours ago
Here is an unsolicited suggestion, to be considered as seems appropriate.  Since its a multi-year endeavor, regardless of what crops are chosen and where the initial seeds come from, in the second year a minimum of 25% of seed has to come from the project with that percentage increasing each year. Processing and storing the seed has to be documented along with everything else. In the case of something like potatoes, participants have to arrange for storage somewhere on the lab grounds and the amount needed for seed has to be deducted from the calories produced, unless of course they opt for using true seed. Trading or even buying and selling of seed between participants is allowed.
A nice bonus at the end is a collection of Wheaton Labs specific landrace seed.

Jan White wrote:
Also grapes and goumis.
What about hardy kiwi? Not sure if you're worried about it taking over if left intended, though

O wow, I forgot about grapes and kiwi, gotta have both of them. Never heard of goumis, based on a quick search, I think I need some.

I'm having second thoughts on the wild cherry and pecans. I would have to have them assuming they will grow but at maturity (although it might take 1/2 a century or more), they could hog a 1/4 acre each. 10 years down the road one might be faced with either cutting them down or moving vegetable gardens and smaller perennials somewhere else. I've been there done that, as they say. Although some things like blackberries or even papaws might grow under them or at least around the edges. Grapes don't belong near a garden either as they have really big spreading roots.

Maybe a third component of the project is needed for large, long lived woody things?
To that perennial list, assuming they will grow there I might add:
Walking Onion
Goji Berries
Honey Berries (sure wish they would grow here)
Wild Black Cherries (very large trees, great for shade, fantastic jelly and wine... will they grow there?)
Other Cherries
For nuts, will PECANS grow there?

I know there is a lot about this already, here and there on the forum, but I think it is such an interesting and important topic I thought I'd start another thread to talk about some of my work and hopefully hear about the work others are doing.

I already have a couple threads on some of my individual projects and I do need to get back to updating those threads but will do that later and won't include them here, but you can check them out if you want. Reed's Sweet Potatoes and Reed's Ohio Valley Flint Corn.

I wish I had not used the phrase "ultimate survival crop" on the sweet potatoes because I don't know that it is, but I was new. If an admin with the ability to do so wanted to change that to "Reed's Landrace Sweet Potatoes" I'd be much obliged.

My first landraces were mostly flowers, wildflowers actually, because when I first came here, I didn't have any flowers and being cheap and poor I wasn't going to buy any. These include Columbine, Virginia Blue Bells, some kind of bright red star shaped flower and others I never bothered to identify. They don't seem to mind that I don't know what they are, they grow anyway.  I think my Columbine later got mixed up with some tame ones and made a bunch of interesting new kinds.

One of my favorites of all these is my Wild Asters. In them I select for large flowers of varied colors. White is the least common so whenever a solid white one shows up, I always make sure its seeds find good spots to sprout. But they don't breed true, so it's always a nice surprise to find a solid white one.

In the garden I have lots of what I would consider landraces that just kind of happened on their own and are basically wild. Those include among others, dill, mustard, turnips, and radishes. The radishes are probably the first of these where I tried to do something on purpose. I don't care all that much for radishes, I mostly grew them for soil improvement, but the woman here does like them so when I decided to let them make seed, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I really like the seed pods. I was even more surprised that when one volunteers the correct time to mature a nice root corresponding with the first hard frosts of fall that they are also very good. Nice and crisp with a pleasant flavor.

After reading Suzann Ashworth's "Seed to Seed" I was discouraged about seed saving overall because of the issues with population sizes and inbreeding depression, especially with the corn I mentioned earlier. That's when I go the idea that just letting things cross up might fix that and I started researching to see what I might find out.

That was pretty much a dead end until I finally hit a search term that took me to some articles on Mother Earth News by a fellow named Joseph Lofthouse. That's when I first saw the term "landrace". So, I wasn't crazy after all and if I was, I wasn't the only one. This guy had already been doing this and had even given it a name. The Mother Earth articles took me to Joseph Lofthouse's web site and on to some other plant breeding and gardening fours where I started learning all kinds of interesting things.

Now most of my vegetable crops are grown in the landrace style. I say most because I do have a few things, my KY Wonder beans for example that I keep in a pure state because I like them that way. Even they, however after being grown and saved by me for about 40 years have adapted. They don't look or taste exactly like those that other people grow from purchased seed, mine are better!

A couple of my favorite examples of my more purposeful landrace breeding are my water and musk melons. For a long time, I had grown Moon & Stars watermelons and Minnesota Midget muskmelon. They were OK but I wanted to mix it up some so I was able to obtain seed of both species from a friend in Canada and from Joseph.

Now I have the most wonderful mixed-up landraces of both. I select for smaller size, more compact growth and fast maturity in both species but mostly for wonderful flavor. I had never in life seen a yellow watermelon and didn't even know the existed. I think that the yellow ones that now show up probably came from the seeds I got from Joseph, but I don't save seed just from them. I like not knowing what color one is until I chop it open.

In my muskmelons something really weird showed up. I have no clue where it came from as both Joseph and my friend in Canada denied involvement. Well, I'm sure it didn't come from my own Minnesota Midget so one of them is responsible. Either that or it is an example of spontaneous wonderfulness, that might happen from time to time when you throw out the restraints of "pure variety" seed saving. It's a weird looking thing, hard and green and a little unpleasantly fuzzy on the outside. But, if you pick it while it's still green and rub off the fuzz it is in my opinion, the ambrosia of muskmelons. I named it green meany for its icky fuzz and extremely tough skin.

Are you growing "landrace" vegetables in your garden?
1 day ago

Michael Helmersson wrote:

Mark Reed wrote:

Sorry to drift too far off the OP topic.

Yeah, I think the thread has been diverted a bit, but maybe in a good way? Your story was great. You're a good story-teller.

Thanks, I got lots of them, that one in fact could be much, much longer. Seems often times the best things come when stuff goes off the rails one way or another. That was supposed to be a couple warm spring days in the woods.

To bring it back around to topic activities for wet afternoons, I like to take walks of course. Also, quite fond of napping, that's why my house has a metal roof. Reading books is always good too.

Of late I've gotten a habit of torching, pounding, sawing on old silver coins until they look like snowflakes to put on the Christmas tree, I'm not very good at it though. I have a 5-ounce round of pure .999 silver that I want to make a tree topper, but I need lots more practice. But I got a little heater in the shed and a metal roof there too, so it's great rainy-day fun.
2 days ago

Anne Miller wrote:
This reminds me of a trip when we were heading to the Smokey Mountains and encountered a rainstorm that was so bad we had to pull the truck and RV off the road into a parking lot to wait out the storm.
Thanks for the memories!

This reminds me of something similar, maybe the same storm? Somewhere around mid 1980s or so, early May? We were off trail looking for the elusive caves where the Cherokee were supposed to have holed up from the US troops, a long time ago, we never found it.

It was actually a little hot that day, a break in the cover topping a small ridge exposed some rather angry looking clouds, complete with some impressive lightening and a breeze that felt 50 degrees colder. We decided to seek lower elevation asap. It wasn't the Cherokee caves, I'm sure, it was just a little rock overhang, mostly hidden by the trunks of giant hemlock trees that we passed, on our way back to lower elevations and an official trail.  

By time we got there the official trail was more of a creek and the actual creek was a white-water torrent, the vote not to cross it was unanimous. We retreated back to the rock shelter and set up camp. It was dark by then and the rain had turned to snow. The big hemlocks were swaying all the way to the ground with the wind, it was magic.

Next morning was clear and cold, snow was about two feet deep. On the second day late afternoon some rangers came by, we were not on an official trail let alone camp spot, they found us by the smoke from our fire. One of them was a bit of a jerk but back country, off trail permits, were available back then and we had one. They had come to rescue us which we declined but jerk told us the park was closed and we had to leave anyway.

We gave them some hot coffee which even the jerk appreciated and promised we would leave at first light the next day. But it was just too cozy in our little home behind the hemlocks and figuring they had better things to do than check on us we stayed a couple more days before getting too low on food, so we went home. It was sad.

Sorry to drift too far off the OP topic.
2 days ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:I'm not sure what the word would be, but it means "This is what I'm able to do at the moment, I have better plans!"
Anyone got a word for that?

"This is what I'm able to do at the moment, I have better plans!"  is the plan

Sorry, I can't put it in a single word.
3 days ago