|A backyard crop of Buckwheat.|
With the approach of the Seed Swap this Saturday it is a good opportunity to visit a little about Landrace varieties. In the home backyard varieties of edibles such as corn, melons, spinach, beetroot, peas, beans and the like are often grown in conditions that benefit the home gardener and seed saver simply by being able to increase their genetic diversity.
The word landrace literally means 'country-breed' (German: Landrasse).
They are regarded as some of the oldest types of crops having originated from selected wild populations of plants. They have been domesticated by traditional farmers over time, through adaptation to the natural and cultural environment of agriculture and pastoralism, and due to isolation from other populations of the species.
Over centuries the crops adapted to conditions in the environment such as soil type, levels of soil fertility, water availability, frost, drought and with the traits preferred by growers such as flavour, ripening times, cropping, early/later fruiting, increased disease resistance etc. and have become domesticated or are partially domesticated.
Seed saving is integral to landrace gardening. We can locally adapt our seeds and plants to our specific growing conditions and way of doing things by planting genetically diverse seed, allowing them to cross pollinate, and then saving and replanting the seeds.