Friday, February 11, 2011

Sorting seeds

Each year I collect about 2000-2500 pods - for a total of about 15,000 to 20,000 seeds. I sort them first by pollen parent. It's easy to do (although it takes a number of hours) because I give each pollen parent a unique color combination of paper clips that I hang from the base of the flower when I make my crosses (and then pop into clear ziplog bags). I then sort the pollen parents by type. This year it was: sharks, neon lavenders, 47607 genetics and other echo eyes, patterns on dark backgrounds, patterns on light backgrounds, Desire of Nations genetics, purples, roses, pinks, eyes, yellows, and reds. The first picture is what they look like sorted by category. You can see that some categories have a lot more seeds than others (the longest one is 47607 genetics and other echo eyes). Over the next couple of months, I will sort the seeds from each pollen parent by pod parent, and decide which I want to plant based on what I've learned over the summer. That will take many, many days. Since I will only plant 4000-5000 of them, tough choices have to be made! As I'm making decisions about what to plant, I pull up pictures on my computer of both the pollen and pod parent, and then consult my notes on how their related genetics performed outside over the summer.
Right now all the seeds are in the refrigerator in the bags below. What's fascinating to think about is that if all of these seeds were planted (which I can't do because of time and space and cost), the gross sales value of the introductions from them could be well into six figures. The only problem is that the cost of getting from here to there (depreciation, property taxes, labor, fertilizer and chemicals, machinery, repairs, rent, soil, soilless mix, mulch, natural gas, electricity, water, catalogues, etc.) - especially if you're operating a greenhouse - can easily exceed revenue. For most of us, we're lucky to break even or make a few dollars an hour. It's a good thing it's a labor of love:-)