Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener: How to Create Unique Vegetables and Flowers
“The author’s gift is to present the technical world of plant breeding so simply . . . and everyone will want to try it.”
Horticulturist and plant breeder Joseph Tychonievich’s first book Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener is actually about encouragement.
Calling it “The best of both worlds,” Mr. Tychonievich cheerfully explains his starting point: “I want my vegetables to taste better, my flowers bigger or smaller or a different color or more fragrant. I want more things to survive my cold winters, thrive in my summers, and I don’t want anything to have problems with insects or diseases.”
He wants what we all want, and in his book he shares with the reader the exact way to reach these goals just as if he were leaning over the garden fence, chatting and giving advice.
No longer is the world of DNA and genetics restricted to the scientific community. Mr. Tychonievich has done a great service for the teeming masses of home gardeners who want to take the next step. Giving plenty of down-home examples, he reviews possible end points of plant breeding first, and then explains genetic theory in a fascinating, encouraging manner.
Interior chapters present the finer points of floral anatomy and practical tips such as emasculating, labeling and many strategies to get tough seeds to sprout. (Ever add a few drops of Liquid Smoke to water in the sprinkling can to cause plants native to burn-prone ecosystems to sprout?)
Deeper into the book, Mr. Tychonievich enthusiastically explores genetics and sheds light on the basic principles such as chromosomes, genes, outcrosses, self-crosses, inbreeding, F₁ hybrids, patterns of inheritance, recessive genes and cloning, all the while acting as cheerleader for the reader: “Grab a potato. Cut it in half. Congratulations! You’ve just cloned your spud.” How easy is that?
After the crosses are made, the fruits harvested and the new seed is sown and has sprouted, Mr. Tychonievich helps the reader to revel in the selection process, his favorite part of the process of plant breeding. “This is your chance to put your personal mark on the plants in your garden, he enthuses. “It is also incredibly fun.”
The author’s gift is to present the technical world of plant breeding so simply and in such a captivating manner that anyone can understand it—and everyone will want to try it. After all, it’s like making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.