I love growing out crossed up plants and selecting what we will save for seed. Brassicas are probably my favourite plant to select.
Here are some pictures of what it looked like while I was selecting one breeding population last week.
The plants I was selecting are the F2 generation of a cross between Tokyo Bekana and Rainbow Tatsoi
Step 1 – Grow A Bunch Of Plants
I grew 2 rows of 75 bedfeet on 9″ spacing. About 200 plants.
Step 2 – Remove What You Really Don’t Like
I started my selection by walking down and pulling out everything that had bolted extra early.
I also removed anything I really didn’t like or that looked too much like the original parents.
I dropped the culled plants on the ground to wither away.
This left me with about 30% of the original number of plants. About 60 plants.
Step 3 – Look For What You Like
Now I walk the plants over and over to get a feel for the population. I imagine how I would like this population to evolve and begin choosing plants.
As I choose plants, a vision begins to form of what I would like to see.
In this case, I was looking for plants that had the ruffled leaves of Tokyo Bekana with some purple or pink.
I did want a lot of purple/pink but at this phase getting leaf texture was more important so I also chose plants with only a touch of colour if they had the leaf texture I wanted.
I also selected a second group of plants that had a lot of purple/pink in the stems and leaves.
Step 4 – Isolate Your Plants To Avoid Cross Pollination
I then pull the plants out of the ground so I can replant them in another area where they won’t cross pollinate with other plants of the same species. (In this case Brassica rapa.)
I chop the leaves down to reduce evapotranspiration until the plants have had a chance to reroot in their final growing spot.
This is my population with great leaf texture.
This is my population with great stem colour.
Here is the population of great leaves planted in one big pot.
Step 5 – A Little Crossing Is OK!
I have my two pots of selections about 20 ft from each other. With a porta potty as the main isolation barrier!
I expect that most of the crossing will happen within the pot but there will be some crossing (maybe 30%???) between pots. That will add a little diversity to next year’s grow out!
And what happens after?
We will save the seed from each pot separately. Next year, we will grow out a few hundred plants from the seeds from each pot. Then I will select my favourites from each of those populations!
Are you busy selecting plants in your garden these days?
I hope so! That’s where the magic happens …