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.

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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.

Objectives:

  • 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.

Seed Savers of Powell River invite both previous participants in Seed Saving Project 2009 and new seed savers to a Networking event.

Wednesday Dec. 2, 2009 7:00 p.m.
Vancouver Island University, Powell River Campus, Room 150.

This networking event gives the seed-saving community, the chance to obtain each others’ seeds and to plan what to grow for 2010. Please bring your extra seeds
to swap with other members of the project. Members saved vegetable varieties in the beet, chard, pea, bush and pole snap and dry bean and squash families. Also bring along your suggestions and seeds of other vegetables you saved, to share with others. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers are especially welcome. If you know other people keen to join a network of dedicated seed savers, please pass this invitation along to them too.

The Powell River Farmers’ Institute(sponsor of Seedy Saturday) provides free envelopes to help keep track of the seeds grown in the Seed Saving Project 09. Envelopes will be available at the meeting.

A stamp is available to mark your envelopes with “Seed Saving Project”. Near the bottom of the envelope, write the first initial of your first, middle and last name as a CODE, identifying you as the grower of the seeds. For example: If your name is Mary Lou Smith, your CODE will be MLS. These grower codes will be entered into the Project database. These codes will help keep track of information about the seeds like: who is trying to save what seeds plus how well the seeds do from year to year. This information will help us to become better seed savers and build our network.

After the Dec. 2 meeting, your extra seed envelopes can be used for
swapping or donation at Seedy Saturday. See you on Dec. 2!

Welcome new members to our seed saving community who committed saving pea seeds at our recent Seedy Saturday!

A number of people have chosen to save pea varieties for the Seed Saving Project 2009. Sapporo*Japanese shelling peas, Carlin(dry soup pea), China Snow, Oregon Sugar Pod, from Saltspring Seeds. And Green Arrow(mainsteam variety) and Sugar Pea from William Dam Seeds.

Here’s a little tip, have used the last few years for an early start to a small but successful row for early peas.

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First. Get your minds. In the gutter!

Gutter peas that is.

Today it’s snowing again. On coastal B.C. fairly unusual for mid March. The soil outside is so cold. Most weeds aren’t even sprouting yet.

If gardeners plant peas outside,(even presprouted) chances are they’ll rot. And that’s if the slugs, insects, birds etc. don’t have at them first.

So off to the scrap metal pile at the back of the farm, to haul out several 8′ sections of old guttering.(scored last summer, while garage-sailing, when noticing an adjacent neighbour having their roof, redone)
And that nice pile of rusty old guttering piled on the driveway. Although have used other metal guttering in the past)

Fold and layer, several thicknesses of newspaper and overlap them, the entire length of the gutter.

Fill with soil. As these gutters have been moved into my 8′ x 16′ unheated greenhouse, I use greenhouse soil.

Plan presprouted peas. Cover with soil up to the top of gutter. Water.

Cover for extra frost protection and evaporation with anything handy. I use old feed sacks or potting soil bags.

Peek under the gutter wrap, periodically, to see when the peas emerge and need daylight.

When the pea-lings get six or so inches high and have several leaves(and hopefully the nights are becoming frost-free)

Transport your gutters to the space, where you want the peas to grow. Then gently…slide. The sections of newspaper with soil/peas into the pre-dug pea trench.

The pea-lings will get a little disturbed but if you’re careful, they will recover nicely. Cover as per the ‘code’ of transplanting:)

Chances increase of getting a small but delicious crop of peas, some weeks before the outdoor planting.

Save some seeds from these early peas. Or plant other rows and save seed from them.

Doors open Saturday March 14th 10 a.m for Powell River’s fourth SEEDY SATURDAY,
at Community Living Place, 6831 Artaban Street, Cranberry.

Bring your seeds, tubers, cuttings, food plants etc. to a lively day of swapping garden plants and information. Cost for this community gardening event is a nominal $1 for admission with children under 12 are free. In addition to the exchange, information booths, and refreshments at the Seedy Lounge plus a supervised children’s activity corner, all day.

Five free workshops included:

10:00-10:45 a.m. Berry Happy, Thank You

Volunteer Master Gardener Myst de Vana presents ways to boost immunity in small fruit shrubs. You can have your fruit (and eat it too) by selecting sturdy varieties, planting for long-term health, and preventing disease and pestiferous creature problems. Managing crop size, staggering harvests, and using wild berries all help create a potentially long season of treats for our cereal and desserts.

11:00-11:45 p.m. Winter Gardening for Powell River

Master Composter, and professional horticultural therapist, Carol Engram helps you plan and manage a productive winter garden. Start planning your winter garden now, in order to plant in July.

12:00-12:45 p.m. Permaculture Gardening for our ‘Wet Coast’

Patches, from Nimh Permaculture Farm, south of town, provides practical tips for incorporating perennial food crops and sustainable gardening techniques into your garden and home landscape.

1:00 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Starting Plants from Seed

Kevin Wilson from micro-market garden, Fiddler’s Farm demostrates how to take the seeds you get at Seedy Saturday and grow them into healthy plants. Workshop covers starting seeds indoors under lights, direct seeding outdoors, and starting seeds the easy way with minimal protection.

2:00 p.m.-2:45 p.m. PLANT frequently. HARVEST abundantly.

Wildwood market gardener, Wendy Devlin helps you plan a small vegetable garden in advance in order to extend productivity and extension of the harvest.

Some of you, might have the other line of that jingle, stuck in your head!

Beans are magical in many ways:)

If you have several favorite beans and you want to save seed from them, will you end up with crosses(hybrids)?
Bush beans are self-fertilizing. Therefore there is generally little chance varieties cross-pollinating.

However it is advised to separate bush varieties in the home garden by at least two feet.

What is often done in home seed saving, is separating similiar bush bean varieties by a row of a different variety of bean (if you are growing all your beans in the same section of garden) Or a row of different vegetables.

There is more tendency for a pole bean to cross. So the advice is plant similiar varieties a minimum of 12 feet apart.

Also the more open-faced flowers of Scarlet Runners, limas and broad beans attract more insect pollinators and therefore more cross-pollination.

So again, a wider planting distance between varieties is advised.

Am growing Andy’s Broad Beans from Saltspring Seeds, and several varieties from my own fava seed collection(originally Windsors, and a small green and purple seeded. Plus two pole varieties of red-flowered Scarlet Runner and one bicolor.(which started out last year as EMERG0, all white which apparently crossed with the red due to close proximity)

So I’ll be paying closer attention to planting distances this season.

While I was in the UK I picked up some seeds (Mum and I shared some packets).

These two I plan to save seed from:

broad beans: “Masterpiece Green Longpod ”
Extra long 12″ pods, excellent for freezing, sow feb-Apr, so it may not overwinter. I’ll try some in fall 2009 though.

Shelling peas: “Meteor” bush pea 18″ high, the shortest I could find. Overwinters from an Oct-Nov sowing, or sow in March.

The following are brassicas and I don’t plan to save seed, but they are OP and I can give away a small packet to anyone interested:

Sprouting Broccoli “extra early sprouting Rudolph”
Overwinters from a Apr-Jun sowing to start harvesting January onwards – good flavoured purple spears.

Sprouting Broccoli “White Sprouting”
Overwinters from a Apr-May sowing to harvest Mar-Apr – white spears.

Sprouting Broccoli “Purple Sprouting”
Overwinters from a Apr-May sowing to harvest Mar-Apr – purple spears.

Brussels Sprouts “Bedford Winter Harvest”
Sow Mar-Apr for Nov-Feb harvest. Reliable, long season, winter-hardy.

Obviously these are not part of the “project” but fun anyway 🙂

Kevin

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

Seed Savers of Powell River officially launched our pilot seed-saving project on February 11th.

About twenty people enjoyed a delicious potluck at the monthly Wednesday Kale Force meeting. Then we got busy packaging up seeds in readiness for Seedy Saturday, our community seed/plant swap and garden fair on March 14th.

If you’re a gardener or food security enthusiast, read about that meeting and our project at:

http://www.prpeak.com/articles/2009/02/25/community/doc49a4ced861dd5427202298.txt

I think that’s a kind of funny way to put it… after all, seeds do not process data; microchips do not grow into computers (which then spread microchips around the room hoping to spawn new computers). But they do things funny in the mainstream press. At any rate, I thought that it was worth noting that the interest in seeds and vegetable gardening has really hit the big-time: this article from USA Today contains some pretty wild information; e.g.:

What’s more, the number of homes growing vegetables will jump more than 40% this year compared with just two years ago, projects the National Gardening Association, a non-profit organization for gardening education.

I suppose it’ll take another year or two (or maybe more) for the interest in buying seeds to become an interest in saving seeds. But it’s a start.