OK, cold weather has arrived and presumably at some point I'll be here on a regular basis!
I've been working hard the past two months to bring all of my projects together and start a few new ones.
Amongst the many projects that have kept me busy, the orchard(s) by far have been the most time consuming. I have been working hard to track down a number of cultivars of various varieties including the two very hard to find Burbank white blackberries, of which I have obtained "Iceberg" the first of the two, and am waiting to hear back from a new friend I made in California by the name of Bob Hornback who has located for me and is sending to me "Snowbank", or improved iceberg. These will be heavily propagated here on our little far, available as nursery stock, fruit, seeds, and available for sale and trade in coming years.
I have also been working on obtaining breeding material for perennial fruiting vines and trees and starting those, most of which require some degree of winter stratification. Of the many things I have been able to obtain I must think everyone who has helped me, sometimes tracking down this material is harder than it would seem, but via friends, expeditions into the local country side, and a few commercial sources I have located tons of persimmons, nuts, raspberries of all colors, blackberries, boysenberries, dew berries, apples, pears (including recessive red/purple fleshed material), peaches, apricots, plums, grapes and so many other things. Many of these will be placed in the "food Forrest" orchard I am working on at the moment, but some will be reserved for grafting projects as well.
I have also managed to locate via ARS GRIN a cache of seed of Kazakhstan wild apples and some scion wood from my friend Phillip Forsline at the New York, Geneva ARS. The scion wood is from that of elite varieties, those already tested for disease resistance/tolerance and for production and taste. The seed is a mixed genetic lot from those planted on Geneva's trial grounds several years back. I am so very excited to get to work with this very rare material from the motherland of the apple! Lot's of discovery to document I am sure.
I also had the strange luck of stumbling into the "pink lady" or "cripps pink" apple seeds germinating inside the apple experiment which I have read so much about in recent years......as we speak there are probably 100 seedlings in a south west facing window of the house.....many of these I will graft on to but some will be added to the "Food Forrest" for selection purposes.
My time has also been occupied filling seed orders and more well organizing my seed collection. The coming years will see the introduction and further stabilization of many Hip-Gnosis breeding projects and the balance of my seed production will be in selecting from the best of the rarest of those other varieties available to me. Regarding annual crops my work in coming years will focus mostly on field corns and their improvement, but there are a number of other very interesting projects at the forefront and close to release as well, from time to time these will be introduced as new Hip-Gnosis Seed Development varieties and offered here and at Homegrown Goodness.
I also lucked out late in the season and was able to locate five 7 week old Royal Palm turkeys to add to my breeding flock. Good healthy turkeys at that which have taken away to free ranging and are thriving in their new home. It was particularly important for me to find these lovely smaller turkeys for their genetics and my shortage of hens. At the moment they are too young to sex, but I am presuming that at least 2-3 of them will be tom turkeys with any luck! With these and the remainder of my flock I will now have access to all the genetic combinations available in color and size to an aspiring poultry breeder (minus midget white, which the genetics probably contributed to the diminutive Royal Palm anyhow). From here I can begin my breeding experiments next year with some amount of predilection when it comes to isolating pairs and making crosses. Narragansett, Royal Palm, Bourbon Red, Black Spanish, Bronze, Slate Blue, Norfolk Black are all amongst my flock now.
In the bit of spare time I have had I have taken up the hobby of squirrel and rabbit hunting to both supplement my diet (that's as free range and "organic" as it gets!) and to cut down on the pest problems here on the farm. I am constantly fighting a loosing battle with these pests when it comes to seedling trees, nut caches for trees, and growing sweet corn.....the freezer is quickly filling!
I have also taken it upon myself to set up and design a more appropriate and long term Bishop's Homegrown and Hip-Gnosis Seed Development web-site. Hopefully by December or January it will be finished and online, but we shall see!