Two days ago a neighbor agreed to loan us eight acres of unused pasture for a watermelon landrace breeding project.
Ezekiel’s 2021 patch of watermelons contained multiple varieties, including Crimson Sweet, Moon and Stars, Orangeglo, Garden Leader Monster, Carolina Cross, Sugar Baby, Congo and more. It was a rough year, with alternating cold, drought, heat, and bouts of torrential rain. Many of the plants failed, but some did very well. He saved seeds from the best survivors to replant in 2022.
This year he will plant those, along with multiple new varieties, and allow them to interbreed.
Yesterday afternoon we filmed this video together:
Then, yesterday evening, we bought more seeds for the project, including these from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange:
And these from Baker Creek Seeds:
In spring, Ezekiel and I will plant all these varieties together with the seeds from the 2021 patch and allow them to interbreed, and may the best melons win.
After a few years of crossing melons, we should have a hearty landrace variety that can handle our weather, bugs, poor soil, heat and humidity. We’re already one year in, thanks to Ezekiel’s 2021 garden.
Last year I grow a good mix of pumpkins and am on the way to making a landrace of C. moschata types and a second landrace of C. maximas. The moschatas are based heavily on Seminole pumpkins, and the maximas come from a Walmart pumpkin I bought at the end of 2020. We saved the seeds and grew them in our 2021 garden, discovering that the pumpkin must have been a cross, as there were a wide range of types that came from that one grey-green pumpkin.
Finally, I grew a patch of Hickory King corn this year. It did okay, but not awesome, and the productivity was so-so. Some of those seeds were saved, and I will be mixing them up with a variety of different corns to make a landrace for this area. You’ll see some corn in my purchase from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. All of those will get mixed together and we’ll see what we get.
With all the space we’ve just acquired, we have a lot of room to plant. I am tempted to not bother irrigating or fertilizing or even liming, and just to till and plant and let the strongest survive, as Lofthouse does. Maybe an acre of melons, an acre of corn, an acre of moschatas and an acre of maximas. Those that produce, produce – and get to go on to round two. Those that die, die.
I like this method of gardening much more than trying to keep seed lines separate and pure. May the best genetics win!