Grexes, Landraces, Hybrids, Oh My!

I was inspired to post my “experiment garden” by @rylan’s post earlier. I too love seeing what others are up to in their gardens.

1. Tomatoes

This year I tried interplanting a variety of flowers with my tomatoes to attract more pollinators. It worked great for that purpose but also for another purpose I hadn’t considered - support! These tomatoes have required no staking at all. I just love that!

It looks a little chaotic but it works great :slight_smile:

I’m also waiting on my “purely promiscuous” tomatoes to get big enough to share. They are currently little guys, direct seeded in my garden. Update coming soon!

2. Cucumbers

I’m doing something just for fun here. I’m taking my 4 favorite hybrids and crossing them all. Why? No good reason other than I have the time and space this year for a few extra projects. Sometimes it’s fun to have no intention or purpose at all! Maybe I’ll add some more genetics next season and really get a grex going. Who knows?

3. Squash

Now this is the really fun stuff! I adore summer squash. I love eating it, I love growing it, I love watching it germinate, I could go on and on. I digress. This year, I’ve planted 30 maximas, 30 moschatas, and 35 pepos. There are SO many things happening with each species. First the pepos, I’m using the Going to Seed Mix, the Pinetree Summer Squash mix, and a mix of my own local seed with the intention of landracing a summer squash for my hot, humid, and wet conditions. There is one very intentional cross I’m doing with Costata Romanesco and a patty pan variety that never let’s me down. My goal is to hopefully get the right mix of genetics I’m looking for and stabilize it.

The maximas and moschatas will continue to cross, respectively. And I’ll continue to select for flavor, growth habit, and the ability to have a long shelf life in the south. I feel like everything goes moldy especially fast in our area.

4. Okra

I need to get more planted asap but I have about 60 plants already in the ground. At the end of the season I will have grown closer to 100 or more. This project has taken some time. This is my okra landrace. I’ve been saving seed and selecting from the best pods each season. This year I introduced some new genetics. I’m very excited about the EFN F4 seed that I just mixed in. Can’t wait to see what crosses naturally and what we get next year. Lots of different colors and shapes!

Pictures to come!

Also, working with sweet and grain corn this year. Along with watermelons and cowpeas, black eyed peas, field peas, whatever you want to call them :slight_smile:

I’ll keep this thread updated as the season progresses. Show me your gardens!


Which varieties did you plant to support the tomatoes?

The flowers supporting the tomatoes are brilliant.

One of my bigger concerns with tomatoes is late blight and general disease pressure, which I led to believe can be aggravated by lack of airflow in humid conditions. On the other hand a dense cover of flowers around tomatoes would help protect from ground splashing and probably airbone spores.

What’s your climate like humidity wise? How do you find the flowers affect disease resistance?

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I also love the tomatoes in flowers idea. I had tomatoes growing in a polyculture/milpa in a greenhouse last year. They were very happy. But I had trouble finding the tomatoes.


I’ve used cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers, and borage for about 80% and some local wildflowers for the rest. The sunflowers have acted as great scaffolding and the other flowers have acted as weed suppression/control.

Thank you! I’m in a very humid/wet climate here in South Louisiana. Blight has been an issue for many years. I was thinking the same thing when it came to lack of airflow but so far they’re doing okay. The flowers are growing at differing heights which has been really helpful for a keeping the soil from splashing up onto the plants during heavy rain storms.

Speaking of storms, we have been getting awful wind with our thunderstorms and the plants don’t move an inch with this system. We have avoided so much damage in that experimental row. Pest pressure is down as well. The tomato hornworms have been found in all the other rows of tomatoes. I will continue to update throughout the season, as I’m sure things will change as the heat of Summer suffocates us all :sweat_smile:

Look at that beautiful chaos! :grinning:

Sometimes I think plants like growing so closely together. I think the natural competition lends itself to more resilient plants.

Hopefully the flowers don’t outgrow the tomatoes too much more. We have lots of snakes that would love to make a home in them as well!

Oh that’s great to hear. I’m in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Our summers are hot and moderately humid usually. Late blight usually hits here as the tomato season is winding down - the weather gets cooler and wetter a few weeks before frost.

Last year I moved to a lower-lying, cooler and damper microclimate garden. Combined with a wetter than usual August, the entire tomato patch got wiped out just as the main crop was ripening. It was brutal.

In general, I’ve found mixing completely different plant families at absurdly dense spacing tends to yield great results across the board. Young pea plants usually get demolished by birds in the early spring hunger gap, but those tucked into blankets of mache, chickweed, sorrel, spinach or perennial flowers get spared. Peppers and eggplants grow stronger in a field of bush beans, marigolds and basil. Ginger and brassicas, or brassicas and basil are lovely. Carrot seeds have great germination planted into a dense bed of any other non-root crop 2-3 weeks from being cut down.

Yet because of the strong focus on air flow for blight prevention I’ve been shy to plant anything more than a foot tall pressed up against my tomatoes in blight prone gardens.

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