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Full Name
Tom K
Member for
1 year 5 months
Volunteer Background
See "Other" below.
Favorite Crops & Least Favorite Crops
My number one crop is and will always be tomatoes. It is the number one "vegetable" that I rely on for processing for my winter food supply. Growing garlic is number two just because I have had so much fun growing it over the decades. Least favorite is growing vining squash and corns because the vines and stalks are so physically strenuous and labor intensive to clean up in fall. Doesn't stop me from growing them, I just do not look forward to fall cleanup. Everything else is somewhere in the middle.
Growing Experience
Growing food
Starting seeds
Growing perennials
Hand pollination
Plant breeding
Time Commitment
2-5 hrs
Growing Location
Space Available
Small lot (101 - 400 sq. ft)
Soil Details
6 Gardens/1 Acre Total; USDA Zone 4B SW MN USA; Elevation 1066'; Pleistocene Glacial Moraine, Former Mesic Prairie; Black Silty Clay Loam Topsoil 12"-18" Deep; Soil pH 7.8; Avg Last/First Frost Dates 05.14/09.18; 130 Day Growing Season Max, 110 Typical; Avg Temperature 44F (Winter/Summer Avg 15F/70F); Avg Annual Precipitation 28"; Avg Seasonal Snowfall 45"; Prevailing Wind Direction From NW Winter/SW Summer
Neighbors' Crops (within 1/4 mile)
Neighbors' crops (within 1 mile)
no idea
Possible GMOs in the neighborhood...
Other relevant information
I will only agree to do growouts that interest me. I intend to approach researchers if I have an interest, and then I will be open and willing to discuss anything related to such issues that they might want to discuss if it would be of help to them. I am not interested in being approached by any researchers to do a project, at least for the time being. Thank you for respecting that position.
Been gardening on same site for 40 years, the same location on which my parents and grandparents gardened. They taught me everything they knew about growing food plants, some methods were very sound and some were not so sound. Many of their methods I still use, but over the years I have improved, modified, or dropped some of their various methods and added my own methods and methods I learned from other people. I give those older generations credit, though. They knew how to grow food and provide for their family back when it was necessary. Well, it is becoming necessary again...

Growing/Production Experience:
Growing annual and biennial food plants. Growing perennial food plants. Growing/harvesting native/wild/woodland food plants. Harvesting edible "weeds" and edible ornamentals. Harvesting local edible fungi, primarily the morel mushroom. Researching growing methods and growing food plants grown by local/regional indigenous tribes. Guerilla gardening, food under foot. Orcharding, berry production, viticulture. Planting for pollinators.

Breeding/Plant Development/Experimentation:
Deconstructing hybrids, crossing open pollinated strains into inbreds (just to mess with Big Ag). Locally acclimated landrace development, creating mixed/blended food plant populations, mass cross experiments, specific plant breeding/crossbreeding. Breeding/selecting for drought resistance and cold tolerance.

Growing Methods/Experimentation:
Proactive planting rotation. Pushing the envelope regarding growing of southern crops in northern climate. Container gardening, vertical gardening, microclimate gardening. Hugelkultur experimentation. Cover cropping. Rain catchment for use in growing areas. Experimentation with moisture retention methods and weed suppression. Composting. Making compost tea solution for organic fertilizing.

Seed/Propagation Experience:
Engage in fairly high quantity seed production of edible food plants for the purpose of maintaining a personal seed bank, requiring seed development, production, harvesting, cleaning, curing, cataloging, storing, germination testing. Engage in seed starting in flats and growing seedlings under lights. Starting/rooting slips and cuttings, layering, grafting, and other plant propagation methods. I have grown all my own plant starts for decades, purchase none. Knowledgeable of stratification, scarification, and other methods to induce seed germination.

Harvest/Food Production Experience:
Grain microcropping for bread flour production and homebrewing. Oil seed microcropping for small scale food-grade cooking oil production. Knowledgeable of harvest storage methods (root cellaring) and food preservation methods such as drying/dehydrating, canning, open fermentation. Growing sorghum for small scale sorghum syrup production. Small scale maple syrup production, harvesting sap from my own trees (as of March15 I am at the beginning of the 2018 sugaring season). Small scale horseradish processing. Small scale hot sauce production. Homebrewing. Open fire/spit cooking/grilling. Cold and hot smoking meats and cheeses. Sausage making.

Other Interests:
Tree diversity and planting for wildlife. Collecting and rebuilding/repairing old cast iron manually powered gardening and harvesting/processing equipment. Lumber recycyling/repurposing. Making charcoal for grilling/smoking.

Current Multiyear/Indefinite Long Term Projects:
1.) Engaging in bush and pole bean growouts for a small network of amateur plant breeders. We really work well together. They are not gardeners, they are experimenters. Their knowledge base is genetics, their skill is manual/hand pollinating. My skills are germinating seeds, growing out plants in isolation, observing traits, and harvesting seed stock. They develop crosses and I grow out the resulting seeds and inspect the traits of the new strains, report back to them, and give them a portion of the harvested seeds if they want them. If they do not want any seeds back the strain becomes my intellectual property to do with as I please.
2.) Crossing wild tomatoes with domestic strains to promote promiscuous pollination (open flowers) and to breed blight resistance into the domestics.
3.) Growing out true sweet potato seeds and trialing resultant plants for a seed developer in another state.
4.) True garlic seed production and development of new garlic strains.
5.) True potato onion seed and shallot seed production and development of new potato onion/shallot crossed strains.
6.) True potato seed (Solanum tuberosum) development and trialing, development of new potato strains.
7.) Popcorn mass cross of over 50 varieties, strains, USDA accessions, private landraces, private breeding populations. Purpose is to create a diverse breeding population for public distribution. I have other people helping with this project by doing their own growouts of my seed stock.

I have experience working with USDA-ARS GRIN and have acquired accessions from them.

At this time I have developed, acquired, or control 40 plus food plant varieties/strains that likely do not exist anywhere else. Not as big a deal as it sounds because anyone with good observation skills and a little bit of plant knowledge can achieve the same. In fact I really do not consider it much of a big deal anymore but I thought I would include this information anyway. It is fun to find something Mother Nature created via wild cross pollination or to successfully, intentionally "create" something unique via manual/hand pollination, that is all. Gardening is fun...

I have confidence borne of experience and an innate ability to learn and grasp concepts. If something can grow in my climate with my average number of growing degree days, my season length, and soil type, then I know I can grow it successfully, whatever it is. I may not succeed the first time, and Mother Nature always has her say in the matter, but I have the ability to observe, research, draw conclusions, problem solve, and build off of successes or and learn from failures. It is a given that failure is a part of gardening/food production, if a person can't accept that then they will not be gardening very long.

My main reason for joining is that I would like to participate in the upland rice growout, although I know it is very close to the cutoff date for participation (I was not aware of your organization until two days ago). I have grown two other strains of upland rice successfully here after a couple seasons of failure, but I figured it out and subsequent seasons I grew out successfully. I have never heard of the variety you plan on using for your growout and it really interests me. I want to help you folks out but there is also a self-interest in that I seek to acquire as many upland rice varieties/strains as I can to pursue the creation of a locally acclimated northern landrace.

If anyone in management or a researcher wants to discuss anything or ask a question of me you are welcome to send me an email, I assume these people have access. I have a lot of garden/produce photos with writeups on my farcebook page, if anyone wants to peruse them just let me know. :-)