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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:

Beka Brown
Red Kidney
Ireland Creek Annie
Montezuma Red
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!

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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.

Here’s a list of the vegetable varieties included in our community seed-saving project.
Of course, we encourage people to save seeds of any of their favorite vegetable, flower, herb, tree etc. seeds.

This list was arrived at by knocking a couple of experienced local market gardeners’ heads together last fall. Then running our choices past Dan Jason, experienced seed saver and owner of the Saltspring Seeds.

With our focus on enhancing local food security, we chose vegetable varieties that were both relatively easy to grow and save seed from.

Plenty of beans, peas for inexperienced seed savers to learn how to save seed. And then a number of beets/chard and squash varieties, that it is difficult for an individual seed saver to save more than one variety of each type of vegetable. Per year.

A network of local seed-savers, increases more varieties of vegetables for swapping.

Here’s the list:

1)Beets(Lutz Winterkeeper, Detroit Red, Early Wonder Tall-top)

2)Chard(Rainbow, Rhubarb, Bietina(Italian)

3)Peas(Oregon Sugar Pod/Sugar Pea(edible pod) Green Arrow(fresh shelling) Carlin(dry soup) China(Snow)Sapporo(Japanese Shelling Pea)

4)Beans (Pole(green, wide Celina), Pole Blue Lake), Pole Dry(Neabel), Fava(Andy’s Broad), Dry Bush, (Ireland Creek Annie, Odawa, Jacob;s Cattle,Beka Brown, Kidney-Red/White,Ukraine, Monetezuma Red, Coco) Bush(Honey Wax) and green, (Jade)

5) Squash-
Moschata-Butternut
Pepo-Table King Acorn, Sweet Dumpling Delicata, Spaghetti,
Maxima-Hokkaida -Buttercup, Baby Blue Hubbard,
Golden Hubbard

Now that the longest night of the year has passed, spring will be here in a few months. Last week I placed our project seed order split between Dan Jason’s Salt Spring Seed Company and one of my favorite seed-companies, William Dam in Ontario.  All the seeds are from open-pollinated, tried and true vegetable varieties.  Dan and myself both have experience in both growing and saving seed from most these varieties excepting the squash.

Once the orders arrive, the project will contact interested dedicated growers and then start distributing the seeds.  Basically the seeds include standard and heirloom varieties of  beets, chard, peas, beans and squash.

On Saturday November 29, 2008, the Vancouver Sun published this story about the importance of seed-saving, featuring Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds and also mentioning Brewster Kneen and efforts to counteract the threat posed by terminator seeds and consolidation of the seed supply in the hands of a small number of corporations:

For Jason, the solution is simple: learn to garden. As an experiment this year, he took 12 of his best and most reliable crops, which included wheat, barley, tomatoes and garbanzo beans, put them into a Zero Mile Diet Seed Kit and sold it for $36. It was wildly successful. For those seriously concerned about food shortages, he suggests a mix of grains and vegetables, including quinoa, amaranth, wheat and barley.

“Until now, people thought seeds were part of the common ownership forever and ever,” he says. “People in other parts of the world already collect their seeds. In general, we’ll be thrown onto ourselves much more in future to provide our food. We might as well start now.”