One of my goals with landrace plant breeding is to add more nutrients to my plants. That is not something I can directly measure as a small scale farmer, but I can look at my corn crop for instance and say: "Hmm. Purple is typically due to anthocyanins, so I can select for more purple cobs." Or I can say, "Yellow color in corn is normally due to carotenes, so I can select for yellow kernels instead of white." With cantaloupes, I figure that more orange means more carotenes, which is a good thing, because oranger fruits also taste better to me. We can certainly allow plants to cross pollinate, and then select among the grandchildren for the edible parts that most resemble the high nutrient grandparent. I put heavy selection pressure on my butternut squash towards oranger flesh. Eventually, most of my butternut squash will have a deep orange color similar to the one on the left.
Regardless of what shape the fruit is:
We can start from where we are at today. Two or three varieties, planted close together so they can cross pollinate, is a great starting point for building a genetically diverse population for our own gardens. I have huge fields devoted to landrace plant breeding, so a few years back it was simple for me to plant 10,000 corn seeds in my quest to develop a frost tolerant race of corn. I was thrilled with the 42 plants that survived. I took a more laid back approach with Swiss Chard, and Turnips. I grew my favorite cultivar to start with, and have added another cultivar from time to time. Sometimes the added cultivar only contributes pollen. I figure that there is no harm done if the new cultivars I trial are around 10% or less of the crop. If I don't like what the children or grandchildren look like I can weed them out before they produce seeds.
I figure that Astronomy Domine is an enhanced nutrition sweet corn because of all the extra colors. I am working on a super-purple (tastes like cherries) sweet corn. It's a slow process, because the super-purple trait interferes with plant growth. I'm leaning towards a super-purple landrace hybrid: I'm thinking that would allow me to combine the high anthocyanin content with good growth, while still maintaining the genetic diversity, flexibility, and local adaptation that I have come to expect from my crops.
These watermelons, plus one not pictured, represent the entire harvest of watermelons the year that I started my watermelon landrace: That's out of around 300 varieties that were planted!!! Watermelons really do not do well in my climate. Last summer was my second year. I harvested perhaps 60 fruits from a much smaller planting. Based on past experience, next year should be the magical year for watermelons. I love the third year of saving my own seeds, everything just seems to come together.
Some cultivars may continue to elude my grasp... I have not been able to grow fruits from a cushaw/mixta squash. It might be one of those species that is just too far out of it's comfort zone in my garden.