Dancing Seed

Breeding Guidelines


Like generations of farmers before us, organic farmers today can save seed of the plants best adapted to our unique farm conditions and local climate. Selecting season by season, our genepools will gradually produce vintage harvests of superior vegetables. Local seed companies or exchanges can help distribute your seed, or farmers can direct market their improved 'vintage vegetables'.

Crop Improvement Guidelines

Heirloom wheat and vegetables, popular because of their rich flavor and steady yield in fluctuating weather, can have lower yields than modern cultivars dependent of high inputs. Organic farmers can enhance yield and quality of heirloom crops by selective seed-saving to improve traits, as generations of farmers have done before us, using the following guidelines:

- Decide what crop or cultivar has potential for improvement. Select one or more traits to improve based on the variations of the plants in your field and your market needs, such as cold tolerance for year-round harvest, resistance to disease or attractive appearance.

- Trial and compare the same crop from many different companies, then work on the best lines with the characteristics you seek from the widest genepool you can collect. Use your intuition.

- Plant the crop in well-spaced rows so you can evaluate each plant. Grow as large a population as possible to maintain a diverse pool of traits. Isolate to prevent accidental cross-pollination, unless you are deliberately crossing to create new crop combinations. Allow wild native plants to grow up around and inter-cropped in your fields to attract beneficial pollinators and predators of insect pests.

- Screen out the weaker plants using typical fertilization and irrigation with even field conditions and management for all plants. Don't baby the crop. Remove or market the less desirable plants before flowering to prevent cross-pollination with the superior mother plants. Keep the whole plant in mind as you select so as not to unwittingly select out valuable but less visible traits. Save the best plants for seed.

Tip: For cross-pollinating crops of pre-flower green leaves (ie brassicas), evaluate, taste and rogue out the less desirable plants to sell or eat. Let only the best plants cross-pollinate. For crops of post-flower fruits (ie:cucurbits) evaluate and taste the first fruits of all plants, tag the best plants, then rogue out the poorer plants (alas nothing available to sell at this stage) - to prevent lower quality plants from pollinating the better plants.

- Harvest the now-improved line, being careful to clean and process the seed to remove any smaller, lower quality seed. Air-dry and store. Repeat your selection process year-by-year.

Restoring Our Seed Genepools

  1. Pruden's Purple

A thick-skinned, firm, early tomato producing good market yields. Select for early blight resistance and attractive shape.



  2. 'Brandy Rose'

(Brandywine x Rose De Berne) *

Brandywine is larger, later, less uniform, tender, less productive with rich flavor. Considered the most esteemed late nineteenth century heirloom tomato. It has potato-like leaves and large, meaty, reddish-pink fruit, with an indeterminate growth habit.
Rose de Berne is medium size, beautiful, almost blemish-free, pink translucent skin covering luscious, rose-pink flesh that is complexly sweet, spicy, and juicy. An unforgettable fresh-eating tomato. Rare Swiss heirloom
. Start indoors. Plant two to three feet apart in good garden loam after last frost.

  3. Wonder Pickle

Select for: plant health, reduced foliar diseases, dark color, good yield over the season, and flavor. (Conquest x Clinton x Wautoma)

Cucumber Breeding Instructions and Pickle Recipes

   4. Potato Dance*

A combination of Blossom (the maternal plant) with Caribe, Island Sunshine, Prince Hairy, Green Mountain, Purple Peruvian.

Potato Breeding Instructions

5. Winter Luxury Punpkin*

-Save seed from longest storage and strong stem.

6. Dancing Greens

Let cross-pollinating varieties grow together. Select for unique salad greens.
1. Mizpoona (Mizuna x Tatsoi), 2. Lacinato Rainbow Kale. 3. Purple Mizuna <wildgardenseed.com>

4. Scarlet Mizpoona (Mizuna x Tatsoi x Scarlet Ohno Turnip) - by Jeremy Barker-Plotkin

$3.00 per packet. Mail check to:

CR Lawn ,52 Mayflower Hill Dr. Waterville, ME 04901