Monday, June 29, 2015

mad seed science

It's 90 degrees out and the peas are long dead. But while I'm reseeding the rest of my early-season beds with a summer cover crop, I can't turn the peas in yet. That's because their bed is also the site of my latest seed saving experiment.
early blooms
My experiment actually has its roots in a different experiment, which I tried late last summer. That's when I had the belated idea to grow some winter greens for the farmers' market. The result of that experiment was that greens started in August and transplanted in September do not get big enough to enjoy in winter. However, some hardy chicories (radicchio, mostly) hunkered down all winter and flourished in the spring. They were beautiful! But oh so bitter, because chicories need cold to make them sweet and delicious.
chicories gone wild
pea's eye view
So that experiment seemed like a failure. But then I had an idea! What if I let them go to seed this summer, and harvested the seed? I'd know they were cold-hardy, since they made it through the winter. I could pick the ones I liked the best (going by looks rather than taste, since I didn't eat any of them). And since there were two types of radicchio in the bed, when they crossed I'd have a new variety that I could name whatever I wanted. So that's just what I decided to do! In March, instead of uprooting the chicories to make way for the peas, I planted the peas in two rows right down the middle of the chicory bed. And now that the peas are done, it's the chicories' time to shine.
full flower

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