This Week's Podcast: A Replay: New Heirlooms: Joseph Tychonievich
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Joseph Tychonievich was one of the young
horticulturists I profiled in an article in the April-May, 2013 issue of
Organic Gardening magazine.
Joseph studied horticulture, plant breeding and
genetics at Michigan State University. He has worked at the Ornamental Plant
Germplasm Center and even traveled to Japan where he worked for the famed
nurseryman Akira Shibamachi. He is currently the Nursery Manager for Arrowhead
Alpines, the rare-plant mail-order nursery in Michigan.
Joseph joins us this week to talk about his first
book, Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener: How to Create Unique Vegetables
and Flowers has just come out.Saving seeds of
an old variety and sowing them year after year is one way to perpetuate and
protect an heirloom variety, but Joseph takes the process further.
what he calls “new heirlooms” by imagining what the results might be, for
example by crossing a shorter growing-season quality of one pepper with another
that has outstanding flavor: pollinating flowers, sampling, selecting, saving
seeds, sowing and saving the seeds of the best result.
In the end, the process of coming up
with goals for a breeding project is something personal, spontaneous as any
other fundamentally creative project. “Keep selecting each year for the traits
you like best,” he said. “Once you start thinking this way, you won’t have any
trouble coming up with new things to try.
“Lots of things make
gardening and plant breeding fun. I feel an almost spiritual connection to
life, in many ways, when I’m outside in the garden. I guess it’s a way to
explore the universe: I don’t have the ability to go exploring other planets,
so instead I explore what’s already here.”
You can follow Joseph’s explorations on
the Arrowhead blog.