This Week's Podcast: A Replay: New Heirlooms: Joseph Tychonievich
Click on the small black arrow on the bar to listen, or the MP3 to download the show: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. He cultivates 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.