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Last year, the first year of the Seed Saving Project, I chose Ireland Creek Annie beans. I mainly picked it for the name. I’ve only tried growing beans once in the past and I harvested one bean pod per plant and only five seeds had germinated – not even enough for a meal. It was time to try again.
In 2009, I had much better luck. I harvested enough beans to supply a number of packages for Seedy Saturday as well as a couple of cups to try in recipes. I have to say I am not a dry bean expert and my Ireland Creek Annie creations were not that successful.
Ireland Creek Annie beans are an early and reliable producer. They are supposed to make their own thick sauce when cooked. They are disease resistant and non-staking. All this sounds wonderful but I obviously don’t have the right ideas for cooking them.
I will probably grow some more to see what other recipes I can experiment with but because the idea of Seedy Saturday is to swap seeds, I am planning on swapping them for one of the other dry beans in the Seed Saving Project. I think I’ll try Neabel, a Ukrainian dry bean that grows six feet tall (an advantage in my small garden).
That’s the wonderful thing about Seedy Saturday. If you don’t find the type of bean or pea or whatever that you grew to be suitable for your cooking methods and taste, you can trade it in for another type that also grows well in Powell River.
Beans are easy for seed saving. You leave them on the plant until the pods are dry and brown, then harvest them. The pods are easy to break open for the seeds. The seeds should be dry and hard.
At the Kale Force seed packing party a couple of weeks ago, Ed brought in some Purple Peacock Pole Beans. I couldn’t resist that name and scooped up a few seeds. I discovered that they grow six feet tall, have light purple flowers and dark leaves. The pods are dark purple and turn green when cooked. They should be fun to try. And they will be available at Seedy Saturday if you are intrigued by the name too.
I’ve finally become a bean-counter!
For the Seed-Saving Project, at least.
One of the reasons, to grow local seed, is to produce varieties suited to our wet, mild climate. Dan Jason at Saltspring Seeds, and his team of dedicated growers have been doing just that for twenty-five years. Although you can grow out seeds obtained from health food stores or other seed companies that source their seeds from other parts of Canada or the world, I like to start with seeds, suitable to grow here.
From the heritage dry bean varieties purchased for 2009 pilot project, and sourced from Saltspring seeds, I saved the following:
Ireland Creek Annie
Plus Andy’s Broad Beans. These were a Windsor-type and the largest pods that I’ve grown in thirty years of vegetable gardening. Also grew a small green and a large purple seeded Broad Bean, obtained in past years from the Comox Valley Seedy Saturday. I had little success growing out the Orca(bicolored black and white)beans but then I had few seeds to start with. Although who knows, what beans are still lurking in the big tangles of yet, unshucked bean pods.
From my own supply of heritage dry bean varieties, there are Jacob’s Cattle(or Trout), Cherokee Black(like Turtle) Dragon-tongue and Ukrainian. For Snap Beans, I’ve collected my favorite Blue Lake Pole Beans. Plus an super-straight, prolific Scarlet Runner variety called, “Aintree’ sourced from William Dam Seeds in Ontario. And a pretty, flowering, bicolored (white and scarlet)runner bean, called, ‘Painted Lady’.
In the pea department, there’s Sapporo,(Japanese climbing shelling pea) and some Purple-podded Snow Peas.
Will be bringing several packages of the above heritage varieties to pass on to gardeners in the Seed-Saving Project. Hope that other people grew different varieties from these, so I can add to my bean collection. Besides being easy to grow and so nutritious, bean seeds are beautiful to look at!
2009 was a great growing season!
Hope that you, had a successful seed saving season as well.
What seeds did you save?
As a food security enthusiast, I have an assortment of vegetable, especially heritage variety dry bean and peas, which I obtained through the Powell River 2009 pilot project.
These seeds were purchased from Dan Jason and his excellent West Coast seed company, Saltspring Seeds. Plus I’ll be bringing some other vegetable varieties, herbs and flowers to swap with our seed saving community next week.
Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Vancouver Island University, 7-9 p.m.
A number of people have inquired about the Seed Saving Project and I thought it would be a good idea to provide everyone with what we feel is the basic goals of the Project. We hope that seed savers will venture beyond the Project scope but we are going to keep the Seed Saving Project focused on the basics to try to encourage more seed saving in Powell River.
The Project is focused on raising the quality as well as the quantity of local vegetable seed.
- Develop a list of vegetables for seed saving that are suitable to this region.
- Educate local growers on seed saving techniques.
- Encourage seed saving locally.
- Encourage new and experienced gardeners to save seeds.
- Increase the number of contributors to Seedy Saturday.
- Provide a stable supply of locally produced seeds.
- Raise the quality of locally produced seeds.
- Be open to suggestions about additions to or deletions from the basic list.
- Become self-supporting in providing seeds to new Project members.
- Provide a forum for seed savers to ask questions and offer advice.
Seed list considerations:
- Main groups are: squashes, beans, peas, beets/chard.
- Vegetables that are relatively simple to save seeds from.
- Have a variety of vegetables in each group.