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Hello from New Mexico

Hello everyone!

I'm Zac helmberger and I am working with a local CSA farmer to breed a potato that is optimized for our region. We are working with a clay loam soil in Northern New Mexico near the Colorado border. We don't have an especially long growing season so we will probably be uncosciously selecting for fast maturing breeds. We are primarily selecting for resistance to blight as this can wipe out the farmers' crop by August 15.

We have our first generation of true seeds and are really excited about this generation of seedlings. We will plant some in flats and direct seed the rest. I have purchased a "Seed Ace" a hand pushed precision vacuum vegetable seeder that can reliably singulate small and irregular seeds such as lettuce and beets. you can see it at:

We have about 100,000 potato seeds and the Seed Ace should help us tremendously to plant all of them with good singulation, spacing and depth. We plan to sow them at various depths from 0.5" to 1.0".

For giggles, I threw some seeds that were left over in my sieve onto the dirt in our indoor contained greywater planter and was amazed at the germination rate even though I just smeared the seeds around paying no attention to planting depth. I must've had at least 100 seedlings that grew happily during the winter but, as expected, they all died of blight.

I will upload pictures of the seedlings as they come available.


Zac Helmberger


Hi Zac -- good to hear you're on the same path as we are! As you can tell, this site is just getting started; we haven't even submitted it to any search engines yet, so it's great to have you here. Let's stay in touch and see how we can work together -- it will be great to hear how your breeding project goes!

Hello Zac!

Your project sounds very exciting, and I look forward to hearing of your further progress. I'm growing a fair amount of potatoes here, at least six different un-named varieties, all collected from various grocery stores (generic Russet, red potatoes, yellow and purple fingerlings, purple round and any others that sprouted before we could eat them. Potatoes seem to have two seasons here, a first season starting in spring (many of my potatoes are already leafed out) ending in the heat of summer with the plants flowering. Late summer, when the monsoon rains arrive, a second season begins, lasting until killing frosts.

Last season was my first experiments growing potatoes (Russet and red varieties), they seemed to be very productive under my deep mulch. Encouraged by that success, I planted a great deal more this winter. Last fall, I experimented with vertical gardening techniques, but had mixed success. Hope to have more success with the practice this season. I didn't attempt any breeding experiments last year, but this you will give it a try. The results should be interesting, considering the wide range of varieties.

I am trying to get your current email address as I would like to get back in touch with you. We knew each other from Life Partner Quest.


Hello again!

Hi Anne!

I am now living in Vancouver, BC Canada. My wife is here on business for a few years and I have miraculously hooked up with a farmer with 6 acres in mixed veggies and blueberries. It looks pretty intimidating but I'm sure I'll find my stride soon.

It looks like late tomato blight is a big problem here with all the rain from the Oct. to Apr. rainy season. This may be my next project since moving from New Mexico.

The potato breeding in NM suffered a setback last year since the farmer had to till all the potato seedlings under and grow a cash crop to compensate for heavy hail damage.

The Seed Ace precision vacuum vegetable seeder seemed to be a success. I wish I could have seen a picture of the seedlings coming up to see how good the stand was. It certainly did a good job of singulation from what I could see as I was sowing them.

Fortunately, I did not use all of the seeds so Daniel will plant them this spring and we'll try it again in New Mexico.

Going from too much sun and not enough water to too little sun and too much rain is quite a switch! I am looking for any experienced organic growers in the area to help me make this season productive.

Zac Helmberger
White Rock Natural Farm
Surrey, BC Canada
778-896-3276 (778-TWO-FARM)

Hi. I suppose this will sound really silly, but I love good tomatoes and you can't buy them in the store anymore, at least not in the US. I live at 7,300' in north central NM. We have a pretty short growing season. On occasion I've grown good tomatoes but it is quite difficult. Usually something happens. Last night (June 12 2010) the temperature in my hoop house dropped to 46F. I got the idea that it would be fun to try to genetically modify some tomatoes that would set at those temperatures. I have no idea how to begin.   If anyone has pointers on where to begin I'm all ears!

Thanks, john

I work with a company that sells blueberry plants. I really think it's better to grow your own plant and eat those berries than to buy them in a store.