Landrace Gardening

Landrace Collards

Peter Dilley shares his success in crossing collards in order to create a landrace variety:

Creating Landrace Collards

Approximately 22 different “named retail store seed packets” went into the initial breeding of these landrace collards.

They have received:

1. The same exact start date
2. Grew in the same exact 1020 tray
3. Grew under the same exact grow lights over winter waiting for Spring.
4. Hardened off outside in the same exact 1020 tray
5. Transplanted into the same exact grown in adjacent rows.
6. Given the exact same watering schelde, or lack thereof
7. Given the exact same fertilizer, or lack thereof
8. Given the same exact Sun exposure and accumulated the same total of degrees F of sunlight.
9. Given the same exact number of Sprays of the same exact sprayer mix of organic caterpillar pesticide (Spinosad)
10. Photographed on the same exact day.


In sharing my findings and my postulations with family who live overseas they have replied back “Spot on. I’d say that things are pretty much the same over here. I know a few people with veg gardens who struggle to get reasonable results with shop-bought seed packs. Best places are proper growers who use their own seed stock and see if they will sell you some.”
From breeding B0, we had landrace L1 and then L2 and this selection will be L3.

I think over the many decades of purchasing retail seed packets of named varieties and all the struggles I have always had growing them and the countless thousands in accumulated dollars of my money I have spent on the “retail named variety seed industry” and I think I can no longer ignore the results that my garden keeps shoving in front of my face. I am going to have to “Landrace all the Thangz!” and every vegetable I grow in future will have to be as genetically diverse as possible and NOT as genetically weak through selection and discarding of genetics to create a named retail variety.
On a side note, having planted between 350-400 Hickory King corn, I can see the genetic weakness in that seed stock as well.
I have a single corn plant at the v6 stage, very dark green and healthy. I have about 3 or 4 at the v4 stage also dark green and health, and a few at v3 stage. The majority are just anemic, green and weak looking. All in the same rows, same start dates, same treatment for their entire growth cycle to date.
This is the second year of landrace selection after the one year of cross-breeding so the phenotype expression is still a very large variety. I will be selecting based on nothing but vigor for a few years and only then start selecting out sister lines for any secondary traits (flavor, size, shape, color). By year 3 of selection after breeding there should be some seriously visible differences. Right now I have more than half of the landrace collards at the large size, and the other half are smaller (most of the blue collard phenotypes are strongly showing up in the second camp of the smaller collard growth — however, even the smallest collard growth plants in the landrace group are larger than the largest retail store seed packet named variety collards I am growing alongside them in similar rows — and in case anyone ever asks, yes I did purchase fresh retail store named varieties packed for growing out this year to make sure it is the “freshest” named variety seed of the varieties that went into breeding the landrace.
Peter Dilley
Hobby Woodworker
I love to see this sort of experimentation in the garden. Peter has barely gotten started on this landrace project and he’s already seeing much more vigor than in the original lines. Why wouldn’t we cross everything? I am starting to think that heirloom lines are meant to be crossed! You can learn more about Landrace Gardening from Joseph Lofthouse. -DTG
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