Direct sown Landraces

I think I have now come to the conclusion that I need convert all of my plants into direct sown. After years of wasting time starting plants early and then running into various issues I am just tired of wasting effort and seeds. This year I direct sowed everything early in hopes that the seeds will sync up with the natural weather patterns and so far it seems to be working. This should in theory work well for me since I have a long growing season anyway.

Has anyone else tried something similar in their gardens/Farms?


Alma N
I am trying to get away from starting indoors, mostly cause my wife wants the gardening to stay outside. So for everything, I select for fast germination, even if I start it indoors.

Kevin C
My wife gets very frustrated with my seed starting too since we live in a very small house with not a lot of extra space it gets very cramped very fast, once I have all my seeds started. All I did this year was densely sow various nightshades and brassicas in some seed trays and it still ended up taking up way too much space and I had very limited success since I guess they didn’t like the temperature swings of a house with no air conditioning or central heat.

Alma N
Very little success means hard selection for your situation. I have never had the money to get a heat pad for my starting seeds. I was glad to find out that by saving seed from the survivors, I am selecting for plants that can start in cold wet conditions. On top of that fast germination and we get something that might just survive direct sowing.

Kevin C
That sounds very similar to my situation. Landrace gardening very much seems to be the solution to all my gardening woes since I also dry farm so I have to start selecting for drought tolerant plants.

Alma N
Looks like we came to the right place! Let us know how it goes. There are probably plenty of us who want to direct seed more, and I’m sure there are a few others dry farming. Check out the seed swap community if you are interested in that.

William Schlegel was working on a direct sown tomato, maybe if
Julia D interviews him she can ask about that.

Joseph Lofthouse
I am also working on direct seeded tomatoes. About 7 plants fruited last year out of 10,000 seeds planted. That’s great odds. They didn’t produce as many seeds as I had last year, but I’m intending to try again.

Kevin C
Did very many of your plants make it very far before dying off? I know you have low night temperatures most of the year is that the cause of death for most of your plants?

Joseph Lofthouse
Solanum flea bettles live in my garden. They eat the seedlings before first true leaves appear. Then there’s the cold nights, short season, high pH soil, weeds… Once the plants get a couple of leaves, they grow faster than the beetles eat them.

My beetles are black, about 2 mm long. They jump when disturbed. One time, I had a plant that was so susceptible to them, that they ate the adult plant. The offspring of that plant are no longer with us.

The beetles like other crops as well, particularly brassicas like mustard, turnips, and radishes. I might could distract them from the tomatoes by planting brassicas nearby.

Kevin C
@Joseph Lofthouse
now that you have described them I think I have seen them around so that might be my culprit. I seem to have just about every pest and we don’t have enough of a winter to slow them down. I had aphids on plants all winter they seem to have taken advantage of all the ladybugs laying low. I am hoping to find some plants that handle all these pests well.

Gregg M
I would initially screen for big seeds. the larger seeds should have more resources for sturdier emergence.

Kevin C
Thanks for the advice. It would make sense bigger seeds would mean more stored energy. I have a specific carrot variety that has huge seeds compared to all my others so I might lean into finding varieties with those kind of characteristics for landraces.

Julia D
Here are some photos of my direct sown TPS (middle row only). When
@Joseph Lofthouse
was here in October, he recommended planting a lot of seed in my hoophouse. So when cleaning the TPS I mixed all the extra water that has seeds in it together, poured the water onto this bed. Germination was great, better than it is now for my dried seed, so that’s a thing. It’s cool so far seeing the giant differences in size and resistance to insect pressure. They were cold over the winter, so not ideal, I was just doing it for fun.

Some are 18" tall and healthy, some are 1" tall and not doing anything

I did a little thinning, even though it doesn’t look like it, quite a few were selected out when I did some hilling. Tiny ones didn’t make it. Should do more probably.

Kevin C
I enjoy seeing photos like these, It reminds me that if you plant enough seed you might find at least a little success. So far I just have teeny tiny little potato sprouts in my direct sow area I hope some of them have the chance to do something before the temperature gets to be too much for them. I guess that is what landrace is all about trial and more trial.

These are super interesting, I’d love to get some seed from them if they provide any for you.

Alma N
You guys have inspired me, I’ll try direct seeding some of my TPS and tomato seed.

Julia D
TPS are sooo much slower and tinier than tomatoes… I recommend somewhere without weed pressure the first time because they will be easily consumed and lost :slight_smile:

Mark R
More examples of how different our local climates and conditions are. In my garden direct sowing tomatoes is easy and volunteers are abundant. I don’t really even know why I still mess with them in the cold frame, old habits I reckon.

I also direct sowed TPS, just put down about six inches of weed free mix on top of a small spot and kept it watered, they pop right up and transplant easily. Then it gets hot and dry, three years trying yielded three small seed berries and a quart jar of tiny potatoes. I never knew what beautiful flowers they have and the bees loved them but they just dry up and fall off.

Kevin Collignon
I have always had some tomatoes volunteers year to year but not much but they are always little tine current type tomatoes I still keep them in my mixes just because they do grow so well, I just want to try and get some others to follow suit.

I am a little worried I might be in the same boat with the TPS I am worried we get hot and dry so fast that I may not be able to get good yields or even seen since we basically don’t have a spring here it goes from mostly winter temperatures into summer temperatures very quick the only difference in out spring and summer is we get a little more rain in spring. I have some TPS seedlings that have popped up but I guess time will tell if they make it very far. I have a back up crop of bought seed potatoes of different colors in hopes that one of those will make it farther and yield some seed. In the entire time I have been growing or seen anyone grow potatoes in my area I have never seen fruit and if you ask anyone no one has any idea that potato plants fruit, so I hope I can be an exception to what seems like the rule.

Julia D
Maybe not TPS won’t be in the cards for you… what about sweet potatoes from true seed?

Kevin C
I have thought the same thing. Last year I planted out a ton of sweet potatoes I think I ended up with 14 different varieties and over 400 plants and due to the crazy weather or something else I am not sure what really caused it, all the plants grew a little but at the end of the season I ended up with a whopping 0 tubers out of all of them. I hope some plants will come back on their own this year since it is common for them to regrow year after year since our ground doesn’t freeze. As a back up I have some cuttings I took last year that I potted they look pretty rough but I hope they start looking better as it warms up. One of these days I need to try and get some Sweet potato seed or some off spring from true seed to try. Another project on my long list.

Joseph Lofthouse
Only about 15% of commercial potato varieties are capable of fruiting. Fruiting ability is a primary selection criteria for growing landrace potatoes.

Alma N
I think it’s awesome that so many people are excited about TPS and trying to grow them. It’s great that there are so much seed to go around.
Hopefully we can get more people growing garlic and sweet potatoes from true seed. Maybe by next year I’ll have enough TGS to share. I don’t even know if anyone is working with TSPS.

Kevin C
That sounds like a great idea I may not be able to TGS here since I don’t have a long winter all my garlic have to go in the cooler for about a month before I plant them out just to increase the chance of them bulbing up nicely. But I definitely would be on board trying TSPS if we can get a network of people with them. I am not sure where to get any either but I am sure someone in this group knows where to source some or already are working on projects using TSPS.

Direct sown not watered corn / three sisters patch. This patch is about 15x25 I have sown it very heavily with cron and cow pea seed with some squash sprinkled in. We have had less than an inch of rain this month and so far it seems like if have some strong competitors for my next generation of drought tolerance.

Julia D
That is very intense selection pressure… Are you still able to add more seed? Are there enough survivors for good pollination? And I’m curious what you use to make your rows

Did the other seeds come up then die, or did they not break the surface? Those remaining ones are looking pretty comfortable!

Kevin C
I don’t have anymore flour corn seed to add to it this is after reseeding twice I maybe end up with some stragglers that make it but for now I have to go with what I have. Pollination is a big concern for me since they ended up spaced pretty far apart I’m hoping that they fill in a little more just for the sake of pollination. And I made the rows with a mattock and a rake. Everything I do is hand tools as of now.

I haven’t seen any come up then die I have some tiny seedlings that have broke the surface and then just stayed small you probably can’t see them in the picture but maybe if they survive they will catch up to the rest of them.

I’l admit to doing a little hand pollination on corn when it seems too widely spaced, or even when I’m just hanging out. Nothing fancy, just tap some pollen into my hand, then go around dipping the silks into it from the edges/loneliner plants.

Oooo, I wonder if the little ones are growing big roots as per
@Mark R’s seedling experiment.

Kevin C
I was think about possibly doing that since as of now I do have some plants that are pretty isolated. It would be interesting to find out about the roots but I’m not big on experimenting or investigating those things. I am more of a chaos gardener that throws things out there to grow and doesn’t look back but I might have to start changing my ways a little bit.

I mean, I think you’ll find out about the roots by doing nothing-- if they suddenly leap up, and then are pretty drought resistant, that’s what they were doing this whole time. :slight_smile:

Mark R
@Kevin C, where are you located? It looks a lot like here except our trees are not quite that filled out yet. Is that Eastern Red Cedar there top, left? Looks like maybe a big Sycamore, top middle? Anyway, in another two or three weeks it will look exactly like that here.

We have had a bit more rain but it’s pushing 90F today with a dry breeze. Our official last frost date is three weeks away, but a lot of seeds are going in the ground today and tomorrow. Another benefit of landrace, maybe something that sprouts and then gets hit with late frost or freeze will make it anyway. Another benefit of having plenty of your own seeds, if a later freeze takes everything out, just replant.

Some things planted weeks ago are suffering a little in the hot sun and breeze today.

Kevin C
I am in southeast Texas. That is a cedar and I am not sure about the sycamore we have them but the woods are so dense around me I don’t notice specific trees too much. We are having a usually dry year. Last year in April we had 9 inches of rain this year is looking to be dry one I guess I will have a lot of self selection happening for drought tolerance wether I like it or not.

Lowell M
I’m in North Florida, 8b. If I could direct seed everything I most definitely would. It saves so much time and I think the root systems are better able to find what they need than when transplanting. This is especially noticeable for some crops and less for others. Most legumes for example produce a very straight taproot and they come up easily on their own so I definitely direct sow. The limits I have on direct sowing are mainly due to fire ants, or I am starting out with just a few seeds and want something to live. Fire ants love most grains and so I have to presprout them if I want a good stand. I haven’t tried coating the seed with clay and other ant deterrents like Fukuoka describes but that is something I would like to try in the future when I have more seed. If it’s the case that I only have a few seeds then I will generally do pots so I can get a few strong plants to make it. Then I’ll save as much seed as I can from that and direct sow in future years.
I also aim for dry farming as much as possible and typically only water once when I plant seed unless I can sync up with a coming rain when I plant. Dry farming and direct seeding free a lot of time up for me.

Kevin C
Direct sowing has only become doable this year just because I have saved enough seed. One thing I have struggled with this year is sweet corn. I suspect that fire ants might be the culprit. I have lots of fire ants that don’t seem to bother much but they also move around a lot and don’t stay in one place for long since I constantly disturb their mounds.


This year feels like a big flop due to extreme weather setting in so early in the year we’ve been between 95 and 100F. We’ve only had about 1/2 inch of rain in the last two months to go along with the extreme heat and wind we are having. Looking into the future forecast it looks like more of the same only getting hotter and hotter with no predicted chance or rain. So far even though the entire garden basically has been leveled by the weather I have a small amount of plants hanging on and seems to be handling the drought well enough time will tell if they will produce any fruit to pass on their drought tolerance to the next generation. I am hoping that things workout so that my family can move out of this climate to somewhere not so susceptible to this weather. I know that landrace can take you a long way in difficult climates but I have grow tired of this horrible heat and feel its time to look for greener pastures. I hope others are doing well this year.

Direct sown cucumber

This a few of them in that row that have been chugging along nicely I have got one tiny cucumber off of one. I am hoping for this drought to end so things can have enough water to produce well.

I’m in awe of anything that survives a drought with that much leaf area.

Kevin Co
I was shocked by their recent growth. They were tiny for so long but I guess they found something they like to spur on their growth.

I had some tomato starts and things I planted out but they very quickly succumbed to the heat. So far it seems direct sown seems to provide the best stand outs for sheer survival. I’m not sure if there will be much fruit from anything this year but whatever makes it that far they will be good genetics to pass on.

I had high hopes for my squash this year and so far I lost all my plants along with all of my melons and watermelon. They are typically direct sown in this climate but still didn’t make it. I threw some seed into the top of a compost pile that is resting and I a squash and water melon that have popped up there so I might get something from there late in the year.

I am looking forward to see how direct sowing works our for you.

That makes sense, those roots can get much deeper much faster I suppose.

It’s interesting to think about those tremendously high selection pressures, it really should get you where you’re going faster but it’s both demoralizing and a little limiting in genetics?

Kevin C
Yeah I think I just have to keep adding a diversity of seed in hopes something else will do well in hopes for a possible cross. Most years are not this extreme as far as drought but we always have this summer heat. Usually we have a wet spring with more moderate heat giving plants more of a chance to produce tomatoes are usually reliable here but that’s not the case this year. I hope if we are still her for multiple years that on the less extreme years I can add back in diversity and maybe have those survivor genetics cross into the rest of the population.

Ray S
I’m keen to direct seed as much as possible. Winter’s not long begun here in Australia so I’ve direct sown broadbeans (favas) and onions. This coming spring I’ll be direct sowing the usual beans and peas (almost always direct seed these) but also chillies, melons, tomatoes and winter squash ( we call it pumpkin here). Won’t be direct seeding corn just yet as I don’t have enough fresh seed. Perhaps next season.

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david beck

tomatoe transplant versus direct seed

This year I started transplants but lost most before March planting. So in march I decided to plant two transplants and started one direct seed next to them in the same bed. With in about 6 weeks the direct seed had almost caught up with the transplants in size. This was a long season tomato so the heat of Texas caused blossom drop before getting many tomatoes. Was wondering if anyone has noticed this with transplants versus direct seed and harvest time being different. Also if a shorter determent would be a better option to beat the heat. I know celebrity verity is popular here but any other variety’s would be a great help to start my land race.
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Kevin C
I know I have had the best luck with direct sow tomatoes most years. No luck this year with this ridiculous weather but I have noticed in the past the smaller fruit the better when it comes to heat tolerance. I stopped keeping track of varieties a while ago so I just throw out seed and hope for the best. I just threw out some seed in the beginning of September and I have a lot of little plants popping up everywhere so I am hoping to get something out of the garden before the first frost.

david beck
ya this year I start land race gardening without realizing it. I decided to grow everything from seed period. what I think tomato wise is best for this area is plant seed in July and by September the temps are falling on average and the plants are ready to start setting fruit. That’s what I am seeing with my fall planting right now. and for spring I will grow my greens and have them out of the ground before any heat. Kind of garden backwards from what everyone else does.

Lowell M
I have noticed that volunteer tomato plants seem to be much more vigorous than what I transplant. I live in North Florida and our last frost date is mid-March so usually I start my tomatoes in pots and transplant late march or so. It can be a bad time to transplant because sometimes our springs are very dry and get hot quickly which causes a lot of stress on the tomatoes which is partially why I believe the volunteers do so much better, simply because they avoided that transplant stress. This next year I am going to try planting very early and determinate tomatoes which is not something I’ve done before. I like the idea of determinate tomatoes producing a bumper early crop and then dying to make way for a later summer crop. Some varieties I will be trying are Minsk Early, Jagodka, and maybe Glacier.
If you like cherry tomatoes you may be interested in some of the wilder forms as well as currant tomatoes. They’re known to produce in hot weather all season long. and have a good selection of cherries and wild tomatoes.

Maarten F
My transplants are outcompeting my “seeds thrown on a patch of dirt and raked in”. Tomatoes from my transplants started ripening 2-3 weeks before the direct seed ones.

William S
I started direct seeding tomatoes in 2017. It works well for me but I also direct seed tomatoes that have been crossed from parents that did well with it in 2017. Like a tomato I call Exserted Tiger. It is Blue Ambrosia x Amurski Tigr now in the F5 at most. Both parents did great in 2017 and they crossed easily because Blue Ambrosia had exserted stigmas. I just daubed lots of pollen onto Blue Ambrosia, saved all the seeds, and looked for hybrids in 2018.

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Well, spring was cold and wet and a slug explosion meant direct seeding failed utterly. Back to transplants until just recently when temps went up and rain vanished. I’ve direct seeded some amaranth, mung beans, corn, cowpeas and sorghum. Fingers crossed!

I’m interested to see if I have alot of tomatoes come up come spring. I had the chickens in the garden area since I only got tomatoes in. I kept throwing them the damaged tomatoes. Mostly green young ones but never know.
I’m not planning on growing the two varieties I did last year so if any come up and look really nice I may find somewhere to squeeze one.

Tomatoes come back pretty reliably here from anything left on the ground. I’ve never had any keep coming back and reseeding itself more than the once, the spring after growing tomatoes somewhere. But I also have the sheep so I don’t think there’s been the chance with me having the sheep go everywhere.

One of the ways that I got really interested in tomato breeding was through an idea I had about attempting to develop a direct seeded tomato for Montana

It worked great- far exceeding my expectations and I keep planting at least one row that way a year. It was almost too easy, as long as I plant early enough varieties I get a great big late but heavy harvest of direct seeded tomatoes.

I documented the first year of that here:

I have continued to write about it here:

However, for some of my collaborators it has been harder because of flea beetles that eat the young seedlings. So I started my arthropod resistance project which I wrote the most about here:

Joseph tried a different tactic: he bred a great deal of diversity into his tomatoes by crossing with Solanum habrochaites and Solanum penellii then used those interspecies hybrids in a direct seeding attempt. He shared that with my for the 2022 season as a backup. It worked! I am not sure if they have arthropod resistance or if it is some other critical element but Joseph got more this year than last which indicates a strong genetic element to his success.

I may cross some of Joseph’s survivors from my 2022 grow out of them into my arthropod resistance project this year or at least grow them as part of it- which may mean that natural crossing will occur. I plan to plant the arthropod resistance project into the garden that had some trouble with Colorado potato beetles the last couple of years. In 2021 I thought that same garden might have some of the flea beetles Joseph and Andrew get. I hope to grow about 72 pots of tomato starts in 2023 but due to work keeping me further from my garden more of the year I will need to direct seed the rest. That means maybe one pot of each of the arthropod resistant lines maybe two of each as I hope to plant a replicate in a friends garden that got wiped out by grasshoppers/locusts to see if they have any effect. Though that might be an grasshoppers eat everything because they are generalists and terribly hungry type of situation where resistance doesn’t really matter to the hungry grasshoppers. Kind of like some horses I noticed chewing away at a fence once.

I found out that my climate is the only place that doesn’t have a native locust – because the Rocky Mountain Locust went extinct in the 1800s.

I’m . . . trying to feel sorry for those insects . . .

But I’ll admit I’m not trying very hard. :wink:

I have limited experience on direct seeding tomatoes (because my season is so short and cool that it would be considered crazy), but I have more experience on cucurbits and all seems to point that you could get advantage of max 1/3 of your transplant period. So if tomatoes you normally would grow 6-9weeks as transplant, that would give 2-3 weeks advantage at most compared to direct seeded. Part of it (at least in my climate) is that it’s possible to direct seed before transplanting because transplants would get shock from cool weather. Part is that direct seeded grow much faster given that they have reasonable conditions to grow. Hot and dry will slow growth, but it’s easier to water direct seeded sufficiently than transplants so that’s positive too if they have atleast minimum amount of moisture to grow. Last year I made some observation of my melons and watermelons. Direct seeded from the time they were same size as trasplants (at the time of planting) grew in 10 days same that took transplants 3 weeks. And the transplants didn’t even seem to have major transplant shock which makes me think that it might be the case with other plants as well.


Yes, direct sow is the way, direct broadcasting is nearly effortless. I’m so over having to start in trays. I have seed and i have growing areas. The plants gonna have to figure it out and thrive or die. I simply run out of time. The plants are lucky to get water from irrigation.


Ha ha ha! I love your attitude, Kim! That sounds like exactly the way I want to handle things.

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I’m looking at attempting to start nearly 350 plants under 2 grow lights :flushed: which I’m suspecting will not be optimal… And dad has a small greenhouse but it’s not setup… So I’m going to do multiple things. Indoor starting, with lots of finaggling. Winter sown in milk jugs, which I’ve not tried before. And some direct seeding.

I’ve got some direct seeded project tomato seed from William that I’m going to direct seed in the garden. I’ve got alot of green bell pepper saved seed to try direct seeding. All the squashes will be direct seeded. Muskmelon and watermelon will be direct seeded.
I’ll be succession planting stuff too… lettuce, leeks, onions, green onion, beets, cabbage, kale, spinach,…

Winter sowing… onion, leek, green onion, lettuce, herbs and flowers, bok choy, cabbage, spinach, kale, peppers, a couple summer squash, arugula, mustard, some roma tomato, dahlias (for tubers), and some bulk saved tomato seed from every tomato dad grew last year that I just saved seed from the nicest tomatoes while cutting them up for sauce.
I’m only gonna need about 50-some jugs :laughing: Good thing I drink plenty of milk.

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Ha ha ha! Yeah, I know what you mean.

I’ve now winter-sown about 20 fava beans and a whole lot of Austrian winter peas under milk jugs and soda bottles. I hope it works. I really want to get the favas in particular started as early as possible, because I read that they don’t make seed pods above 80 degree temperatures, and our springs are short, and our summers are hot.

It looks like favas tend to take about 70 days to start flowering, so . . . yeah, I think starting them under milk jugs right now, about 90 days before I expect to get daytime temperatures over 80 degrees, is wise.

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Couln’t you start them in the autumn? In your climate they should overwinter and then give you a headstart in the spring. Or is it just too dry?

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I absolutely can, and I totally plan to. But I’m dying to try them right now and not wait another nine or ten months, so . . . :wink: Even if I get back fewer seeds than I planted, I figure that’ll give me a head start for fall because they’ll have a generation of being adapted to my soil already.

Our winters are super wet and our summers are super dry, so winter is an ideal time for growing cool weather crops. That’s why I’m trying to find the most cold hardy everything possible. If it can live through my entire winter and overwinter out in the garden, I won’t need to irrigate it at all.

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What was the outcome of your planting? I still struggle with growing favas…but im trying again. I cant sow them until October and grow over our winter when its cookest here in Southern Arizona. And I’m eager to see if the self sown volunteer celery patch will come up again. It is a grex and had 4 heirloom varieties at first, two years ago.
How do we add photos to these posts?


I aim to direct sow all my crops, but it sometimes takes a few generations to get there.
When I buy commercial seed it tends to be in small packets with highly variable viability and vigor. For the first generation I usually start my seeds in pots and transplant, especially for crops with small seeds which are very sensitive to exact conditions.
Once you start saving your own seed the quantity and quality of seed should rapidly increase. This means you can afford to direct sow much more heavily, and to repeat sow if you get the timing wrong. Heck, I often hoe down a bed of seedlings if the weed pressure is too high and I can’t be bothered hand weeding them. Having enough seed to throw around is one of the huge benefits of saving your own.


I don’t do that first thing but I’m definitely with you on the second.

Not that you have to go out of your way to do it but with tons of seeds you can get a little sloppy, plant at outrageous times or in outrageous conditions, just throw them out in the weeds and see if anything takes.

You can also run every goof ball, almost doomed to fail, experiment that pop’s into your brain. It might sound wasteful, but it’s not. It’s the price you pay to find out what any particular species will really do in your garden. It’s how I discovered my broccol-ish.


Very good

Yes, I agree! Those long-shot projects will almost always fail, but when they succeed, that’s when it’s time to really sit up and take notice of that variety or species.

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