Experimental Homestead

Amateur Apple Breeding Video Series Launched!

spread the love baby (you have to read that in the voice of Issaic Hayes;)

Ooooooh Yeeeaaaahhhhh, The Money shot.  Spread the love baby (you have to read that in the voice of Isaac Hayes;)



Yay!  The apple breeding video series is off the ground!  I really wanted to get it launched this year because I made a lot of pollinations this time around, and I’m not sure how many more years I’ll be doing it.

The first two videos are published .  They are basically the same video in two parts, of me talking about why I’m breeding apples and basically why I think more people should breed plants, apple breeding history, along with some gentle ranting (only had to bleep out one %$#*& word!  Pat me on the head).  The next videos will be thoughts on selecting parents and then onto the fun part, the first how to segment which is on pollination.  The pollination segment is mostly done, and I think it really turned out beautifully with my new drastically improved video capabilities.  (BTW, I will most gladly accept any donations of old manual film camera lenses to further expand those capabilities.  I think I’ve bought every 5.00 junk store camera lens in Ukiah already! :D  I can adapt nearly any older lens from any brand to my Sony NEX 5 camera.  The manual lenses have better focus rings, and often smoother zoom than modern lenses, which can be useful for video…  and they’re cheap.)

The concept of this series is to follow the entire breeding process starting from pollination, for many years onward, until those specific crosses bear fruit, and likely beyond that as the fruit is assessed over a number of years to see if it is worth naming and propagating.   Also, we’ll be following my progress with the whole project which is around 4 years in right now.  I made my first pollinations in spring 2011, so I may get lucky and have some fruit as early as next year.  One of my first seedlings is actually fruiting now, but it is just an open pollinated seedling of Wickson from my friends at The Apple Farm near here, so the pollen parent of that one is unknown.

In order to keep to my usual lower frequency/higher content posting, I won’t be posting all the updates here.  I believe that if you have a google account of any kind, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates.  If I get up to 500 subscribers, I can change my youtube user name/URL, which I will need to do pretty soon when I implement whatever plans I settle on for changing up my websites and youtube channels.  I know, I’ve been saying I’m going to do that for years, but it’s coming, for reals… someday, hopefully soon, when I get it “right”.  My main goal with this video series to is to continue to incite creativity and deeper participation in what we are growing and eating, so please share so I can corrupt more people!  mwaahhhahahahhhaaa…

Thank you all so much for your many comments over the years, and just for being an audience for me.  So without further delay…

This link is to the playlist into which all the videos in this series will be dropped.

This link is to the playlist into which all the videos in this series will be dropped as they are finished.

And for those of you interested in such things, which I imagine are quite a few, I also just started a series that follows the making of high grade Hide Glue from a large bull skin.  Parts 2 and three should be out soon.  This is a sort of follow along and learn as you go type of thing, released as separate videos as I go through the various steps.  The hide glue will eventually be for sale, probably on the Etsy Paleotechnics account.

Hide Glue Making Series

Hide Glue Making Series

May 10, 2015 - Posted by | Apples, Food and Drink Making, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts | , , , , ,


  1. Great info. I’ve got a few seedlings going myself; no professionals are going to breed stuff for interior Alaska, so I might as well roll the dice. Are you familiar with mentor grafting? Michurin’s assertion that juvenile plants can be epigenetically altered via gene transfer between stock and scion (long derided by the west as a backward Soviet superstition) has now been validated by more recently developed DNA analytics. It’s something to consider if you want to graft juvenile scions to mature stocks–results may vary from those achieved by the original tree on its own roots. Michurin’s method involved removing all but a few terminal leaves on the scion, so if that’s necessary, normal grafts may not show any effect. But such pruning might just intensify the transfer, so it’s possible that some influence will prevail even if omitted.

    Mentor grafting can also be done in reverse, with a mature scion mentoring a seedling stock. Just bear in mind that if a juvenile scion is grafted to an inferior stock, desired characteristics may be negatively affected. One theory holds that the paucity of acceptable offspring is due precisely to the practice of grafting juvenile tissue to dubious stock. But you can also turn this mechanism to advantage by grafting young wood to mature specimens possessing desirable properties.

    There’s a discussion of graft hybridization in this excerpt:


    Comment by Vic Johanson | June 3, 2015 | Reply

    • Thanks for that great comment and link. This is very interesting. That author seems very open minded. I had a conversation recently with another amateur breeder about affecting the genetic expression of young seedlings. I had read that red pigmentation might be in response to, or influenced by, exposure to strong light as a protective measure.

      Function: In flowers, bright-reds and -purples are adaptive for attracting pollinators. In fruits, the colorful skins also attract the attention of animals, which may eat the fruits and disperse the seeds. In photosynthetic tissues (such as leaves and sometimes stems), anthocyanins have been shown to act as a “sunscreen”, protecting cells from high-light damage by absorbing blue-green and ultraviolet light, thereby protecting the tissues from photoinhibition, or high-light stress. This has been shown to occur in red juvenile leaves, autumn leaves, and broad-leaf evergreen leaves that turn red during the winter. The red coloration of leaves has been proposed to possibly camouflage leaves from herbivores blind to red wavelengths, or signal unpalatability, since anthocyanin synthesis often coincides with synthesis of unpalatable phenolic compounds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthocyanin

      He suggested that it might work to expose young seedlings to stronger than normal light to basically turn on the red pigment expression for the life of the plant. Seems worth playing with. I thought I might do two flats dividing my seeds half in each and expose one of them to uv and or other light, maybe blue light? as the seedlings emerge and grow initially.

      I’ve been grafting my seedlings to B9, one of the dwarf geneva stocks and this year pajam because it’s all I could get. But I’ve been taking the entire length of the seedling, up to 2 feet long. Maybe next year I’ll try taking some young seedling tips and grafting them out to established trees. I could see making successful grafts with very small growing tips by rind grafting into twigs, or by something more like budding where a bud is allowed to grow through a slit in the stock’s bark to get the bud as close to the stock as possible. Once grown out and potentially influenced by the stock, they could be removed to dwarfing stock to grow out and fruit. I wonder if graft hybridization could be used for reinforcing the traits of one of the parents, like red flesh or a flavor note. Good food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

      Comment by Stevene | June 4, 2015 | Reply

  2. Hello Steven, I found you whilst googling how to tackle mould on beet kvass and read your brilliantly considered and helpful comments (so rare) in blog posts by the Healthy Home Economist and Nourishing Treasures – detail even the revered Sandor cannot match; so thank you!

    I read somewhere that in Eastern Europe beet kvass was/is typically fermented aerobically with just a cloth covering to allow for the growth of yeasts. From (mouldy) experience however and on reading your comments, using airtight jars seems to make more sense, as for other vegetable ferments. I just hope that using glass Kilner jars with metal gasket and rubber seal will be sufficient to prevent explosions due to the beetroot’s high sugar content.

    Apologies for the totally off-message comment but being a mere urban and mainly fantasy homesteader in London, apple breeding and hide glue making are a tad out of my realm. Great open minded blog posts.

    Comment by Odette | June 26, 2015 | Reply

    • It may be that allowing stuff to grow on top of cultures makes them taste different, or better, but I suspect that most people in the old days would have used anaerobic conditions if they could have easily made them happen. I’ve used those glass lid European clamp style jars to ferment, and so far no problems, but beets do ferment very fast. I think if you put a plastic sheet over an open jar with a rubber band that would probably keep air out and let gas escape. Even a pin hole in the plastic should keep air out during very active fermentation. Might be worth a try. The problem with the clamp jars is that the salt and acid eat up the wire bail after a time. Thanks for the praise. I do have diverse stuff on here, and it’s going to get more that way, but I’m trying to expand people’s horizons a little. Who knows, I may have you making hide glue yet! And you can leave whatever comments wherever you want ;)

      Comment by Stevene | June 26, 2015 | Reply

      • Funny re hide glue but I’m afraid I just can’t get excited by it. Maybe it’s too manly an endeavour for me (although I’m all for broadening horizons, and manliness for that matter). I shall be following your exploits with interest. I don’t mind a bit of metal corrosion on the outside of Kilner jars but good plan on the plastic sheet front. I will definitely give that a try as I dont want mould or fear of explosion to spoil my beet kvass love.

        Comment by Odette | June 26, 2015

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