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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Open Source Seed Initiative - Wonderings

I have signed Brown Envelope Seeds up to be a part of OSSI. I did this because I sell some varieties developed by Carol Deppe, and she asked me to. I have huge respect for Carol who is an independent plant breeder. She breeds and selects varieties to suit her largely self-sufficient diet. Her books: Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, The Resilient Gardener and The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, describe her unique approach to growing her food. They have had a major influence on me. 

It was an easy decision to put the OSSI pledge on her varieties. This is it.

The OSSI Pledge

You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

Wondering 1

I am wondering whether to put the pledge on all my seeds. I avoid using anything with any kind of breeders rights on it so I don't think I will upset any plant breeders. But would I be contravening any Irish laws or the European Seed directive? I can't bear to try and read it again. Its bossy tone and strange legal/euro/English make me cross. So I am asking you. ('Your honour, I did ask the interweb', will be my defense).

Wondering 2

I am also wondering when does a cultivar  become different enough from its parent material to merit a new name, or too poor to keep? For example if I:
1 Inbreed it and it looses vigour.
2 I consciously select for certain traits in it.
3 The environment selects certain things.
It will change. At some point it will become a different variety. The original breeder might not want me calling it by her name, or I might want to distinguish it from hers because it might become obviously different and more adapted to Irish conditions.  
Here is an example of how a cultivar can change: This year I grew Golden Bantam sweetcorn. I grow sweetcorn for seed, outdoors. Usually it fails. Often I have none on the catalogue. I am stubborn, and I am not interested in sweetcorn that needs to be in a greenhouse, it takes up way too much space. I have tried many varieties, and the only one I have EVER got to ripen its seed was Golden Bantam. Golden Bantam was released in 1902 and is still popular. It has had time to get around. I got my seed from Stormy Hall many years ago and I have grown it out several times. The plants and cobs are small and there is mostly only one cob per plant. Because I was worried that this small size was caused by inbreeding I decided to try and reinvigorate it by growing some seed, from another company alongside it. So I got some seed from a reputable American seed company and grew two rows of their corn interspersed with 2 rows from my own seed. 

Rows I and 3 are from my seed and 2 and 4 are from the other seed company.  Rows 1 and 3 (my seed) are clearly shorter  and although its not completely obvious from the photo they are also a darker colour. The point is they are very different. It is November now and the weather has turned nasty. I have harvested about half the cobs from rows 1 and 3 but none are anywhere near ready on 2 and 4.  Most plants have two cobs and some three, or they would have had if they had got pollinated, but I think (from squeezing them) that they are empty. They didn't put out their silks until they had shed all their pollen. I am sure they would be fine in a place that got a real summer, but our warmish season was not enough for them. 

I would love some feedback from seedy people on this please. 

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