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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.

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and so much more tonight, Wednesday Dec. 2 at VIU. 7:00 p.m.

The 2009 pilot project coordinators are willing to add more vegetables and varieties within those vegetable families to the Seed Saving Project in 2010. Are you jumping, up and down?

The Project will still keep track of the original beans/peas, beet/chard and squash varieties but new vegetable varieties will be added, for the food security enthusiast, horticultural therapist, market gardeners or for those, who just want to plant a pot of fresh herbs near the back door.

All in the name of the increasingly loud buzz word, local sustainability.
Can you hear this sound?
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Now that the seed saving Project is being expanded, I’ll bring more beet, cucumber, parship, pepper and tomato seeds tonight. A bunch of cilantro and dill. Plus in the flower department(got to attract those beneficial insects) calendula, cosmos, marigolds, poppies and ornamental sunflowers. And that’s just a fraction of the flowers, herbs, vegetable seeds I have to trade/donate.

Then there’s a Kale Force seed-saving party, in January, food security author, Robin Wheeler in February and Seedy Saturday in March. Plus a permaculture, organic vegetable/seed saving gardening course in the spring. Oops!

Did I let three cats out of the bag?

Watch this space!

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!

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