Joseph Tychonievich may be nursery manager for Arrowhead Alpines, but alpines aren't all he grows. He's been fascinated by all sorts of plants since he was a teen. When asked to write a book on plant breeding for Timber Press, he jumped at the chance.
The book, "Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener: How to Create Unique Vegetables & Flowers," (Timber Press, $19.95) hit the shelves recently. The goal of this very readable book is to encourage home gardeners to dabble in creating their own customized varieties.
"As I became seriously involved in gardening, many of the books I read dismissed creating new varieties as too complex to be attempted by anyone other than professionals. I knew this couldn't be true. ... Yes, it takes companies with teams of highly trained plant breeders years to create and market a new variety, but that is because the horticulture industry is complex, not because breeding is. Breeding at home is simple, easy and effective," he says in the introduction.
Mr. Tychonievich is certainly qualified to offer advice. He has studied horticulture, plant breeding and genetics at Michigan State University and worked at the Chadwick Arboretum at Ohio State University and with famed nurseryman Akira Shibamichi in Saitama, Japan.
"It's pretty easy to get started, and incredibly fun to make your own plants," he said in a recent interview. His enthusiasm for growing things is contagious.
The book starts with a short history of plant breeding, continues on to making breeding goals, how to make plant crosses, genetics and how to evaluate and select favorites. He also gives some advanced breeding techniques.
"That was my goal, to make (breeding) accessible and not scary to people," he said.
He's done that. In no time at all you'll have your very own cultivars popping up each spring.
Post-Gazette garden editor: Susan Banks email@example.com or 412-263-1516.