raspberryfool: (Default)
This year's Golden Sweet x Bijou F3 hybrid pea plants produced something very close to my goal; a large-podded yellow mangetout pea variety. Most of the plants produced yellow pods, some were large and some small, but all were wonderfully fibreless and delicious.Read more... )

My new pea hybridising experiment is also going well. Shiraz x Golden Sweet F1 plants were everything I was expecting; tall plants producing purple-coated pods which faded to green; purple A is co-dominant with green a. The pods were also fibrous and tough; Shiraz isn't a true mangetout variety because its pods become leathery as they mature. SxGS presented me with over 200 seeds; enough for a small autumn growout this year. In two pods I found some beautiful, dark purple peas that look almost black; now if I can stabilise that trait in a red-podded mangetout I'll have something really special!
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In the F3 Golden Sweet x Bijou (GsxB) grow-out, I'm getting mostly small pods, which tells me the allele for large pods is recessive. Several plants have produced some beautiful, large, lemon-yellow pods and I'll certainly be saving their seeds. This is exactly what I wanted from this cross.cut for pics and waffle )
raspberryfool: (Default)
I've never been a confident public speaker, but I've just accepted a request to grovel pitch for funding for a project run by a group I'm involved with, whose remit is to help increase local food security, to which end it runs several local projects. One of these is a flower and produce show in August, which needs funding. We had a grant last year but we need ongoing support if the show is to run properly each year.Ah the memories... )

I'll be competing against three other worthy project and will have four minutes (i think) to win the audience's votes; I'm not confident at this point but I'll give it my best shot as long as I'm briefed properly; you know what they say, do something slightly challenging every day...


Update: We didn't win. Bugger!
raspberryfool: (Default)
Here are a few images to illustrate my previous pea post:
Cut for pictures )
raspberryfool: (Default)
The hybrid pea plants, and the non-hybrid parent varieties, are rocketting away now. They're mostly around 4 feet tall now, and most are looking chunky and voluptuous. cut for pea obsessiveness! )

So my job tomorrow is to tie them into the canes again; a task I only did last week! meanwhile the garden is looking beautiful; lilac is out and smelling gogeous, strawberry flowers, primroses... I love early summer, though the weather feels less than summery at the moment!

Which reminds me: happy World Naked Gardening Day. I'll pass this year, thanks; I like my neighbours and I'd like to keep it that way. You're welcome! :-D
raspberryfool: (Default)
I'd totally forgotten this abandoned effort from my filking days; though I doubt it would be acceptable now. Still, it gave me a slightly embarrassed giggle...

“Blake the Dead”
(tune: jake the Peg)

I’m Blake the Dead, diddle diddle diddle dum,
with some extra red, diddle diddle diddle dum.
Wherever I go on Gauda Prime
The folks will tell me just in time;
“There’s Blake the Dead, diddle diddle diddle dum,
With some extra red.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
I planted them in early February, germinated them on my windowsill, and planted them out in the garden in March. Now, my 2017 cohort of F3 Golden Sweet x Bijou (GSxB) plants are pushing 30" high!

The F3 generation represents seven lines grown from seeds from different F2 plants; some had the coveted large yellow pods, some had smaller, fibreless, GS-like pods and others had large, green but fibreless B-like pods. I threw in seeds from one fibrous-podded plant to see what happened...Cut for boringness )

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what genetic diversity my cross has wrought, and seeing what breeding lines diverge from the F3 lines. There'll be pictures next time, I promise! :-)
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
He'd spent more than an hour entering the bunker, climbing down rubble-strewn staircases and corridors to find the control room; it was still partly intact but huge slabs of concrete lay across the desks and consoles. No light, no power, no people... just as he'd expected.

The old man flashed his torch around the room to illuminate the mess. An icy wind blew in through collapsed roofs and walls, stirring up piles of leaves blown in during the countless autumns since he'd last stood there. Even here, the elements had found their way of erasing the past and reclaiming their own. Quite against his once-iron will, an eerie chill ran up his spine. It looked just as he'd imagined it would.

A sudden movement made his heart jumpstart like an ancient engine. "Who's there?", he called into the shadows, but no reply came. The man raised his gun and cast his eyes slowly about the bunker. "Come out or I'll kill you where you stand". His torch picked out another movement in a far corner, startling him again. He ranged his gun with his finger poised on its trigger, then the creature showed itself.

A feral cat. It hissed and screeched and ran across the room in fright and disappeared from his view. Relieved, he lowered the sidearm and stepped aside to the open floor of the central room. Through his aged eyes he viewed the scene that had inhabited his nightmares for forty years... years he often wished had not been his. A boot sole here, a once-shiny trinket there... time and the wind had erased almost every trace of what had occurred there; now the leaves and dust covered everything.

"I'm glad you came", said a deep voice from somewhere in his memory. "I was beginning to think you were dead". Casting the torch around revealed the absence of any life; even the cat had deserted him. But he answered the voice anyway with his customary chill: "I am dead".

Walking slowly back to the abandoned consoles, he noticed something strange; a solitary red light was blinking. "Power", he said to the wind. "But where from?" He bent over and his hands, gnarled and rough, started flicking switches and turning knobs on the long-dead equipment. Then the light died. "Nothing. Nothing but ghosts", he mumbled and stood up again. Almost smiling at his unwelcome sentiment, he said, "I should have left you in the past where you belong". He surveyed the scene again, rubbed the dust from his hands and turned to go.

Behind him, a screen suddenly flickered into life. The old man turned back and raised his gun, his heart pounding again; his mouth dry and dusty... "Who is it? Show yourself", he demanded. The static resolved into a picture... it was of a young man, scarred and rough and dishevelled. The loudspeaker crackled and hissed and buzzed. "Avon. Is that you, Avon? Can you hear me?"

"Blake. You're dead. You've been dead for forty years. Who is this?" Avon's voice faltered.

"Avon, it's me, Blake. I set this up. I was waiting for you. Avon..."

Then the screen went dead.
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
Every so often (about annually, it seems), I pop in here and check to see if LJ is still alive. I'm quite surprised it isn't totally moribund, but considering only one of my friends is still posting (Hi Judith!) I'm kind-of glad it's still here.. for now at least. The new TOS I signed on the way in gave me a fright - I thought for a moment perhaps Google had got its sticky fingers on our formerly-beloved web-journal platform!

Since I'm now using Linux on my desktop PC, I'll need a new posting client; I don't imagine Semagic will work under WINE; I'll have a mooch around the site in a bit.

Anyway, I'm still alive... creaking a bit more these days! I'm still gardening and playing Mendel, and I'm involved with a food waste reduction project. I'm not doing photography now, but I'm doing occasional graphic design work for the project. Things are kind-of cruising along in a so-so fashion; I've learnt to accept that as some kind of 'normal'... sort-of-like air pollution, Trump and global warming...

I'll take my leave now, I don't want to disturb too many ghosts here. Teleport now, Jenna! :-D
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
In 2014, as you'll remember, I cross-pollinated the mangetout pea varieties Golden Sweet and Bijou; the former being yellow-podded and the latter having large, wide, green pods. The aim is to introduce the genes for yellow pods from Golden Sweet into the Bijou line.

Last year's F1 plants threw in one surprise; I got everything I'd expected – tall plants, purple splodges in the leaf axils, bi-coloured purple flowers and small, green pods. F1 hybrid seeds are homozygous, which basically means they're genetically identical and only the dominant genes are expressed. The surprise was that instead of being fibreless, the pods on all six F1 plants had a fibrous layer like shelling peas, making them inedible. I've read in several places that mangetout pea plants lack the dominant genes for making fibrous pods. I also understand that dominant genes don't hide themselves away like recessives do, so I've no idea where these fibrous pods were coming from; perhaps G.S. has a fibre-making gene after all. The F1 generation produced over 200 seeds; enough to keep me busy for a few seasons if I wish!

This year, I'm growing out the heterozygous F2 generation, which is where the fun begins. Each seed should be genetically different, and potentially each seed is a new variety. The genes begin to segregate into their parent lines, which is exactly what I've found. Of the forty-odd plants I've grown (all tall), I've had small, yellow mangetout like Golden Sweet; both small and large, green mangetout; and large, green, fibrous pods.


One yellow-podded line looks as though it might be worth growing out – its completely fibreless pods curl upwards rather than lying flat like Golden Sweet's do.


And then there's this; a single plant has produced large, fibreless, yellow pods. I know they're fibreless by the way the seeds deform the pod walls as they mature. The plant is short-ish and a bit scrawny, and the pods seem to become greener as they age; here it's compared with Golden Sweet, which is the small pod on the left of this photo. I tasted one young pod, whichch i found tasted acceptable but wasn't quite as tasty as Golden Sweet. This, however, may be the prototype I'm looking for. Next year's pea-growing is looking exciting!


test post

3/7/16 05:33
raspberryfool: (Default)
testing. ooh is this thing on?
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Well well, we haven't been here for a while, have we? Since my last post I've been clearing the garden of summer growth, old plants, leaves and rubbish, and to celebrate I had a big bonfire. It made plenty of ash, so that's been scattered around the fruit trees and bushes, and dug into the soil. Small pleasures please small minds...

The plums here were really quite poor this year; when I think of how many jars of jam my dad used to make, as well as plum crumbles to fill our hungry tums throughout the early autumn, I wonder whether that tree is getting to be past its fell-by date. The culprit was mostly brown rot, a fungal disease that spreads with rain from old fruit left on the branches. It spreads really quickly and ruins the crop in days; it's quite sad really. But don't get me wrong, I did have quite a few pounds of plums to make chutney with, and to give away to friends, family and neighbours, so perhaps it's just nostalgia speaking.

I was quite pleased with my potato harvest; I dug around 20 lbs this year -- all Desireé -- from the two beds I used; 'Bonfire' and 'Strawberry 1'. They were mostly quite small, though I did get some larger ones too. The soil in those beds in more suited to root crops than the heavy clay of 'West', though I'm slowly improving the soil structure in the latter. The quality is much better this year too; I didn't notice as much scab and there was hardly any other pest damage (though see later), though the ants did some superficial damage to those in 'Bonfire'.

I took down the WendyHaus in two sessions; it was really easy this time. The plastic covering was still in good condition, which I put down to the location of the top ridge in the centre rather than the edge. I think the location, tucked into a corner between a wall and a hedge, really helped too. I could have left it alone but I'm sure the wind would have wrecked it eventually and whisked it off to grace some unsuspecting neighbour's television aerial, satellite dish, or tree. Besides, the tomato plants inside wouldn't have withstood the first frost on (iirc) 23rd November, so they had to go. Nothing lasts forever; not even tomato plants!

The local moggies have been neglecting their duties. This autumn, I found two mice nesting in the alcove beside the house, right at the back inside an old tea chest beneath all my junk. In fact I'd had the same problem in the summer when I chucked the one mouse I found there into the garden. It must have found itself a mate and returned; the little gits had ripped up some carrier bags and dried poppy heads, though they didn't damage anything important. They'd been eating my potato harvest, which I stored in the adjacent shed. Fortunately they hadn't been there long (only two or three days) and hadn't reproduced, but they damaged a lot of my spuds and I've had to move the crop indoors. I might not have minded if they'd been paying me rent. They've been evicted now; I emptied the tea chest in the road and the little shits ran off, hopefully into the mouth of a passing cat. That'll teach me to leave the garden door open!

So that's about it for this year's garden waffle. The garlic is sown and growing. The pea plants are still up and flowering, although I doubt I'll get my hoped-for late seed crop. There's polytunnel planning and building to be done, and I'm hoping to pave some of the grass immediately outside the garden door. There's the usual umm-ing and ahh-ing about what-to-put-where, what to grow, what to abandon and all that stuff to worry about over winter. So I'm heading back under the duvet where it's warm and leaving the garden to the crows, blackbirds, thrushes, robins and hopefully the local cats -- rather them than a mouse infestation!

Happy Winter, Livejournal.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
So here we are in (almost) mid-autumn. I've been quite lazy with the garden this year, after having made all those grand plans back in the spring. But life and laziness got in the way and I basically couldn't be bothered with some things. Leek moth larvae had a field day with my leeks lazy year; the pests hatch as little grubs and munch their way through developing leeks, leaving a gooey mess of shredded leaves and frass. My attempt last year to grow cauliflowers ended in a similar fashion, so I decided not to bother planting either this year. They're both pest magnets and I couldn't be bothered with them.

I did manage to grow some red onions from sets i acquired at a local seed swap. They aren't huge but as a first attempt at growing them, I was quite pleased. The hybrid pea plants I planted made around 200 seeds, so i've planted ten with a view of getting an autumn crop; likewise the regular two varieties I grow. My peas did rather well this year, considering they were grown in a bed that usually turns into a brick in the summer and a quagmire in the winter. It's nice to find something that actually does well in that plot!

Potatoes have done fairly well, considering I planted them quite late. Also planted late were my tomato plants, which are finally bearing fruit in the WendyHaus. Also in summer I bought some cheap shallot sets so i'm trying those out near the raspberry canes.

I was seriously considering jacking it all in and grassing over my plots; but I decided against that; why, after all that effort, should I let nature have her way? So I'm toying with the idea of building myself a permanent polytunnel. I'll see how I feel after the winter's ravages and privations; if I still have the energy and drive by March I'll go ahead. So 2016 could be either great fun or a total disaster -- fate will decide, I'm sure!
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
My my, how quickly summer has rolled around! This is a brief pea update with no images; I'll have to do a proper update one day!

The hybrid pea plants from my cross (Bijou (B) x Golden Sweet (G.S.)) grew very well; they're currently bearing a healthy-looking crop of F2 seeds. The F1 generation was very much as I predicted in my earlier post, but they did throw up a few surprises. Below is a quick-and-dirty summary of what i've found so far:Cut for boring waffle... )

So that's the current situation in my pea-crossing experiment. I'll sow a handful for an autumn trial, nature permitting.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
It's been a good week for getting out into the garden, not only to watch a solar eclipse (Equinox day; March 20th). The morning started cloudy, with tiny breaks occurring here-and-there, but it looked for all the world as though I'd miss the celestial event. The clouds slowly cleared and by 9:00am, a thin, pale crescent of sun was shining through the clouds. The landscape darkened quite noticeably as the 89% peak approached. When watching the sun directly through the clouds became uncomfortable, I used my binoculars to project an image onto a sheet of white card. After the peak, the sky cleared almost completely as the moon slowly uncovered the sun, and by half-ten it was all over. There won't be another significant solar eclipse in the UK until 2026, although there's a very minor one (I think) in 2018, so I'm very glad the clouds obliged us this time!

On the same day I planted out my first batch of Bijou pea seedlings, which are about 8" tall now. The next day I buried some Desireé potatoes, including some of last year's crop that have sprouted some impressively long shoots in my larder. Then today, the Golden Sweet pea seedlings went in. The hopefully-hybrids will follow on Monday, though I'll be giving them their own, special area away from the parent varieties. I hope the wascally wabbit isn't still on the run; I haven't heard anything since had a note about it late last year. I'm sure I'll soon find out!

I've missed the garden this winter. Happy Equinox! Happy Spring!
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
All six of the hybrid pea seeds from last year's pea cross-breeding experiment, Bijou x Golden Sweet, have germinated; touch wood I'll have my cross. I can't wait to see what they produce! I'm expecting:

Anthocyanin (red colouration) in the stems and leaf axils (dominant, both parents, confirmed),
Tall plants (dominant, both parents),
Green pods (dominant, one parent (yellow is recessive)),
Small pods (unsure whether it's dominant or recessive, one parent),
Edible (mangetout) pods (recessive, both parents),
Purple flowers (dominant, linked to Anthocyanin production, both parents).

My aim is a large, yellow-podded mangetout type, and I'm hoping the recessive genes I need to make those will express themselves in the next (F2) generation. The F1 plants should be genetically identical, so pod size and colour will be the signs that my jiggery-pokery has worked; if I get anything different from the above I'm just growing the parent varieties!
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
St. Valentine's Day 2015 saw the first, and hopefully not the last, Seedy Saturday Northampton. I was semi-involved with the planning and I designed the publicity poster which, for better or worse, used that particular day as a focal point. With a big, red heart placed right in the visual centre, its message was, "If you love gardening, come and see us".

Seedyposter small

That morning, I arrived to help the proper organisers prepare the venue. A pop-up café would be selling lunches, cakes, tea and coffee. The seed swap tables, arranged in a square at the back of the venue, were covered in the £1,000 of seed packets donated by large seed companies. There were also smaller quantities of home-grown seeds donated by amateur gardeners like me. My donations were packets of three varieties of tomato seeds and two varieties of peas. I picked up some runner beans called "Moonlight", some French beans called "Kingston Gold" and some Russian Yellow Plum tomatoes.

There was a nice community feel to the event. Around the seed tables, a small group of stallholders were selling various wares and promoting organisations.

I was in charge of the small theatre, where several short talks were to be given. My own talk was a short introduction to seed saving; it seemed to be well received - at least nobody threw any rotten tomatoes at me. I spent most of the event in there, emerging to chase speakers and shout - usually ineffectively - that a talk was about to begin.

The event seemed to work well; lots of people came and most of the seeds - including those I'd donated - were snapped up. The café, and donations for seeds, raised over £700 towards a more permanent pop-up café that will serve food diverted from landfill disposal. I'd had visions of the "nightmare scenario" in which nobody showed up, but all seems to bode well for next year's event, which I hope will be larger, but we'll see!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Yes it's been a while since I posted here. I'd love to say I've been really busy having a life, but I can't. Instead, the next few posts will document my garden adventures this year. Let's start with the mangetout peas I grew.

Peas are a relatively new addition to my garden. Until 2011 I hadn't ever grown them before and it was only Rebsie Fairholm's website that persuaded me to try them. I bought my seeds from The Real Seeds Catalogue, choosing the mangetout varieties "Golden Sweet" and "Bijou". The former is a tall, yellow-podded, mangetout variety; it's very pretty and even has pale yellow tendrils and growing tips. You can read Rebsie's review of it here.

goldensweet1 yellow mangetout

The latter variety is a very tall, green-podded mangetout variety that produces huge, inch-wide and six-inch-long pods--yes really! Sadly I ate them all before I managed to take any photographs.

These varieties—I rew areound forty plants of each—performed very well in my garden this year, but succumbed to the hot weather in July and were covered in mildew. Part of the reason I grew so many plants is to harvest the seeds. I want to take some to my local seed-swap next year—hopefully to exchange for some other interesting vegetables—and to acclimatise them to my garden's soil and microclimates. another—more intriguing reason is so I could cross-breed the varieties to produce—nature-willing—a new variety with large, yellow pods. Now that would be really special!

My attempts at crossing the varieties largely failed; either the pods didn't set or they stalled before producing anything like seeds. I did, however, produce one single—and very precious—seed that I hope is a F1 "Golden Sweet x Bijou" cross. So what sort of plants am I likely to get from this spawn of my shenanigins? Well, both varieties have the recessive "edible pod" genes, so it's likely I'll get that trait. Golden Sweet's yellow-pods come from a recessive gene called gp, but Bijou's green pods come from a dominant gene, so I'm expecting green pods from the first generation. The trait of tallness is also dominant, so I expect the F1 plant to be tall. Both Golden Sweet and Bijou have red splodges in the leaf axils, but I don't know whether that is dominant or recessive. I also don't know whether the gene(s) controlling pod size are dominant.

With luck, 2015 could see the start of my bid for world domination of the pea a new, unique variety of mangetout. I can hardly wait to see what grows from this precious offspring.
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
One of the joys of summer in my garden is papaver somniferum, commonly known as the opium poppy. Each spring I sprinkle its seeds over the bare, cold earth. These jewel-like specimens rewarded me by brightening up my potato patch this summer...

poppies (1)

This garden beauty's white, sticky latex oozes out of the seed head when it's scored with a knife. The latex is harvested for its opium. It's also grown for its seeds, which are used in breads and cakes, and is the only papaver species with edible seeds.

poppies (4)

This big, red specimin popped up by my rose bush. I've been wanting these for ages!


However I'm still jealous of the allotment holders, who get to enjoy these gorgeous, red pom-pom types close-up!

poppies (5)

It's perfectly legal to grow papaver soniferum in the UK, as long as you're not starting your own cocaine farm!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Summer has come at last and I'm beginning to feel as though all my hard(ish) gardening work is paying off. I've begun harvesting Golden Sweet mangetout pods since late May. Golden Sweet is a very beautiful variety of manegetout pea. Its tall plants produce bi-colour purple flowers the turn slowly blue as they mature. These are followed by pale yellow pods, which gradually fill with tender, sweet green peas making it a dual-purpose variety. Everyone I've shown them to loves them and it's not difficult to see why.Cut for boringness etc )

I've invested in a 22-Gallon water butt, which I've set up to capture run-off from my flat roof. Since I installed it we've only been blessed with a short, sharp night-time shower.
Water butt


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