Tossing a Variety

digitS'

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Seedsavers might have this experience fairly often. Their seed storage drawers must be overflowing if they didn't ;). This post could go with the Plant Propagation threads but it isn't really  nerdy. It has more to do with emotions. Time passes, circumstances change ... Don't want to overstate it but gardening can be an important part of life and reflect everything that goes on around the garden, around the gardener.

Here's an example of  losing a variety. Many of us remember Marshall. When he moved from the shoreline of that California lake, he sent me tomato seed from some "Safeway" tomatoes that he must have thought were just exceptionally tasty. They were something like f5's so he had been growing them for several years. I had one feeble seedling emerge and the other seed failed ☹️.

Other than disappointing a friend and a silly fail on my part, there wasn't a history of a relationship with the plants. But, I just tossed some 2016 seed from plants that I called "Sally." I remember the plants and fruit, how they diverged from what they were supposed to be, and how I grew them for a number of years. And, why I named them Sally.

She was a neighbor's Alaskan Malamute and a very nice dog. This was at a garden on a friend's property and I had to park right beside the neighbor's driveway where Sally would hang out on Summer mornings. At first, a little wary, she and I developed a good relationship. She would sit patiently in the driveway for me to climb out of the pickup and give her, her morning petting and scratch behind the ears.

The neighbor moved, the friend had already passed away and the son decided to sell the property. I had plenty of ground elsewhere (but, none that convenient ;)) and it has been about 12 years since I have seen Sally the Malamute. The last grow out for the plants is now 6 years ago. Except for nice healthy plants that set a moderate crop of moderately early fruit, the variety was really inconsequential. I can't imagine experiencing any real loss in the tomato patch or kitchen ... only emotional.

Steve
 
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Pulsegleaner

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Happens to me all the time. As I save seed more or less reflexively, I wind up with a lot of stuff that, in retrospect, I realize I don't really have a use for. By now at least 80-90% of what I have left of my "found" seed consists of things I will NEVER plant, due to both knowing what they are already and having no incentive to grow them. I tossed out most of the wheat samples I collected off the sides of the roads, since nearly all of it is just going to be the same hybrid stuff I could get out of any catalog, and, if the goal is to try and find varieties that can re-seed themselves effectively to form patches that can take care of themselves, I really should be waiting to collect until the year AFTER I initially see the patch (since, so far, I have not seen any that came back in the same spot twice). And then there's everything I forgot to label and now have no idea why I saved it.

Yes, there can be a nostalgia factor in some seed, but ultimately, one must be practical. Toss the seed you don't want (assuming no one else wants it either) or you'll quickly get a backlog of seed you don't have room for, and wind up tossing it anyway when it gets so old it's no longer viable.
 

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the hardest ones for me are those that start out promising but don't quite get all the way there. like a few of the bean crosses that showed up. a pinto and pink bean cross that has a very interesting pattern and color on it at first but then as the seed dries and ages it becomes a brown/tan blah, plus the fact that the bean plants don't seem to do that great. so why keep pushing something that doesn't work well? instead i have all these other beans to work with.

last spring when i winnowed down my bean collection i got rid of hundreds of solid color beans of many shades of brown, red, purple, yellow, golden, etc. no way was i going to be able to grow all of them again. none of them were named varieties.
 

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the hardest ones for me are those that start out promising but don't quite get all the way there. like a few of the bean crosses that showed up. a pinto and pink bean cross that has a very interesting pattern and color on it at first but then as the seed dries and ages it becomes a brown/tan blah, plus the fact that the bean plants don't seem to do that great. so why keep pushing something that doesn't work well? instead i have all these other beans to work with.

last spring when i winnowed down my bean collection i got rid of hundreds of solid color beans of many shades of brown, red, purple, yellow, golden, etc. no way was i going to be able to grow all of them again. none of them were named varieties.
Yeah that's another problem. Every time you get rid of something, you aren't just getting rid of it for yourself, you are getting rid of it for EVERYONE. That seed, in the right hands, might have solved a famine issue, and you just destroyed it. Almost makes on think that everyone has an obligation to build a seed vault the size and sophistication of Svalbard, so you can keep EVERYTHING that passes into your hands. Are you the owner of your seeds, or just their steward?
 

digitS'

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Maybe it's best that I don't have very good color vision ;). Although, I can imagine pink turning to "tan blah."

The only raid on a farm field that I can remember is picking some canola leaves to learn how they would taste at the dinner table and grabbing quite a full bucket of missed beans off of plants so that I could try dried green beans to learn how that worked, "reconstituted" and cooked.

Wild harvesting - rather a different story. There was some disappointment when I learned that all the volunteer apple trees that I see so often off the country roads and in "industrial" areas, were completely unsuitable for my homemade apple butter. Waste of time.

Steve
 

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Wild harvesting - rather a different story. There was some disappointment when I learned that all the volunteer apple trees that I see so often off the country roads and in "industrial" areas, were completely unsuitable for my homemade apple butter. Waste of time.

Steve
Don't give up hope. Most of the volunteer/"wild" apple trees I find prove to have inedible fruit as well, but every noiw and again I DO bump into one that passes the test like the "crabapple" on the path past the soccer field, and the ones next to the Casual Male XL in Nanuet (though, based on my glance last Friday, I'm afraid those were probably cut down when they put the Chipotle up.)
 

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Yeah that's another problem. Every time you get rid of something, you aren't just getting rid of it for yourself, you are getting rid of it for EVERYONE. That seed, in the right hands, might have solved a famine issue, and you just destroyed it. Almost makes on think that everyone has an obligation to build a seed vault the size and sophistication of Svalbard, so you can keep EVERYTHING that passes into your hands. Are you the owner of your seeds, or just their steward?

i consider myself just one people of many millions around the world who grow beans for food and for the pleasures they create while doing that. a steward, sure, i can accept that, and i'm doing my part to pass them along that is for sure.

i've successfully cross bred (with help from Momma Nature and the bees) some interesting beans that i hope will have a future and will help people have food but also interesting food growing experiences since the connection with nature and plants is important to me to encourage others. too many people are stuck inside for long periods of time. if i can get someone outside and moving and learning about nature via beans then i've accomplished even more than i'd hoped.

i also just happen to like the artistic side of beans. the shapes and colors and the flowers. that we can eat the results is just a huge bonus that always makes me happy.

and if you're a tactile person sticking your hands into piles of dry beans is amazing. :) if you're OCD and love sorting things in the middle of winter when you are daydreaming of being outside where it is warm you can look at the shapes and colors and get your fingers on something that is potentially alive.
 

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i consider myself just one people of many millions around the world who grow beans for food and for the pleasures they create while doing that. a steward, sure, i can accept that, and i'm doing my part to pass them along that is for sure.

i've successfully cross bred (with help from Momma Nature and the bees) some interesting beans that i hope will have a future and will help people have food but also interesting food growing experiences since the connection with nature and plants is important to me to encourage others. too many people are stuck inside for long periods of time. if i can get someone outside and moving and learning about nature via beans then i've accomplished even more than i'd hoped.

i also just happen to like the artistic side of beans. the shapes and colors and the flowers. that we can eat the results is just a huge bonus that always makes me happy.

and if you're a tactile person sticking your hands into piles of dry beans is amazing. :) if you're OCD and love sorting things in the middle of winter when you are daydreaming of being outside where it is warm you can look at the shapes and colors and get your fingers on something that is potentially alive.
I suppose it all depends on how serious you take that stewardship. As I have mentioned I treat it like a geass. Yes, there are millions of people saving seeds around the world, but what if you are the only one who has THAT ONE seed that will make the difference. If Luther Burbank hadn't noticed that ONE potato plant in his field that looked odd, we'd have no russets. If someone hadn't been walking by THAT specific crack in the pavement in whatever city it was, Broad Creek Cripple Cherry tomatoes would not be. Same with Scarab and that manure pile, or the one that showed up in flood debris. Turkey Craw beans relied on that ONE hunter shooting that ONE turkey that had eaten them, and putting those seeds in his pocket instead of tossing them away with the rest of the guts. That ONE farmer who lost half his corn crop and then had to re-plant with different corn is where the WHOLE Corn Belt started. When you think about it like that, the onus becomes almost oppressive.
 

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... When you think about it like that, the onus becomes almost oppressive.

uh, well, i don't do that... i mean, even with new varieties being useful and interesting it isn't like others can't come up with them again. if you have a good enough description of the variety and the possible parents then someone perhaps can get the cross to happen again and select it again? maybe takes time and trials, but i guess i don't worry too much about the loss in completeness, because in the end we're all going to be doomed and all life on this planet if we don't figure out how to get into space and to take these other creature with us.

so i guess it depends upon how deep and how far ahead you want to think.

i like to think that somehow we'll manage this journey and be able to take animals and plants with us. it still would be interesting to be able to come back about once every five hundred years to see what happens next. hopefully beans will be a part of it. :)
 

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Well, technically I think there eventually WILL be a way to save, or at least test, all conceivable types of an organism. Since every organism has a finite number of genes (it's a huge number, but it's still finite), ff you could build a computer with enough processing power and enough data on the effects the products created by an organism's genes have on its attributes (remember, ultimately, nearly every gene just codes for a given amino acid. It's the interactions of THOSE that make everything work.) it could theoretically "ring the changes", go through EVERY possible gene combination and determine and model virtually what the net effects were. Then you could simply pick out the end effect you wanted, find out what sequence makes that, and then splice the organism's DNA to that template (I'm, assuming here that, by this point we have gotten to stage II or III of gene splicing, where we can build DNA strands nucleotide by nucleotide, as opposed to just sticking little bits into bigger bits).
 

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