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Overcoming the seed-saving challenge regarding beets and their close relative, Chard, was a motivating factor in creating Powell River’s local Seed Saving Project.
I love beets, many varieties. However in my garden, found it impossible to have the kind of distances between different varieties of beets to prevent cross-pollination between the different varieties. And I wanted to keep open-pollinated Detroit Red beets the size and taste they are, and keep Lutz beets, for their ability to successfully overwinter while growing to their huge(but still tender) size. Ditto for all the other beets and chards, with their specific characteristics.
The cross-pollination between varieties allowed me, only, to save one beet variety for seed each year. Although I could grow as many other beets as desired, for eating. Beet seeds keep a number of years, in properly stored in dry, cool conditions but this still meant I had to keep buying other beet seeds to grow most years.
In our Seed Saving Project we have the potential for some members to grow one variety of beets or chard for seeds each year. After harvesting the seeds, which is a lot even from just one plant, members could then swap their beet/chard variety for everyone elses’. Solution achieved!
In 2010, several members will be saving seeds from the beets/chard they grew last year from Lutz Winterkeeper, Bull’s Blood, Detroit Red, Rainbow and Bietini Chard.
I’m growing out Bull’s Blood this year, both for its deep purple-red leaves that look (to my eyes) beautiful in a flower border, the tasty beets themselves and for the fact, that it is a heritage variety that deserves preserving for the future.
So that’s my variety to save seeds from. However in my garden, this spring, there’s still Ruby Chard, and loads of Perpetual Spinach(another chard grown for its many leaves, reliability and hardiness).
I could dig up and give to someone who will grow the plants this year and save seed in the fall. There’s also at least one Chiogga(heritage Italian variety that has concentric circles of white and pink when you cut it open) Any takers?
Let me know at Seedy Saturday if you want any of these plants, on March 13th. See you there.
Seedy Saturday is coming up this weekend!
March 13th, 10am to 3 pm
at the Recreation Complex
This year’s seed exchange and garden fair will be bigger and better. We have two rooms for workshops.
- Plan for your best garden yet!
- Getting seeds off to a good start
- Growing berries in Powell River
- Seed-Saving 101
Community Project Panels
- Food Security: The 3rd Annual Report
- Transition Initiatives: Rebuilding Community Resilience
- Powell River’s Seed Saving Project
- Time to SALSA (Society for the Achievement of Local Sustainable Agriculture)
Bring your seeds to swap. Bring your gardening magazines and books to swap. Learn about what’s happening in our community. Area groups promoting regional sustainability and economic resilience will have information tables. Learn to sow seeds, learn how to make a seed ball, talk to a worm composter, a beekeeper, a master gardener and others.
If you are new to seed swapping, here’s some tips on how Seedy Saturday works.
How to package seeds
- Use the packing table near the food area. Envelopes provided!
- Place ¼ – ½ tsp of small seeds, 12-20 large seeds in an envelope, and seal
- Label with plant name, year collected, history if known, & any other info.
How to swap seeds
- Bring seeds to the Check-In table. You’ll get a paper slip with a number of “credits” according to how many seed packets you brought.
- Choose seed packets (1 credit each), books and/or magazines from the exchange tables, up to the number of credits you have.
- Return throughout the day to find new seeds!
How to buy seeds
- Choose the seeds you want from the exchange tables (max 10 packets)
- Take them to the Check-In table
- Pay 50c per packet
- You can buy books & magazines too.