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Happy New Year, seed savers!

A Seed Packing Party and Potluck for Seedy Saturday is being held at this month’s Kale Force meeting, Wednesday, January 12th at the Community Resource Center, 4752 Joyce Avenue, Powell River.

Come to the Potluck supper, starting at 5 p.m.

Bring your extra seeds, recent seed catalogues, gently-used gardening magazines and books to the Center by 6 p.m. for donation to Seedy Saturday.

Every year, the Seed Saving Committee for Seedy Saturday, organizes one or more seed packing bees to ‘seed’ the community seed exchange. This way, when gardeners arrive on March 12, 2011 at 10 am, there always a large diversity of seed contributed by local growers. The money received from sale of these seeds, 50 cents per package up to 10 packages helps fund the event itself.

Last growing season on the Upper Sunshine Coast B.C. was a poor one for saving the usual amount of local seed available for Seedy Saturday. So bring your extra seeds to the packing party. They’ll be appreciated more than ever!

Also at the meeting, seed sharing will be discussed. Some commercial seed sources grow more expensive or less available over the years. Why not go together on purchasing packages or bulk orders of seeds?

Lots of new ideas and local initiatives contributing to local sustainability. Recession proofing for seed savers and gardeners.

It’s a New Year!

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You can see, I’m still stuck on the letter ‘A’!

The Seed Saving Project is having another seed packing bee with members of Kale Force Wednesday, January 13, at the Community Resource Centre (4752 Joyce). Pot-luck dinner at 5 pm and seed packing to follow.

Come out and bring your seeds.
This gives you an opportunity to get help to package your seeds for
Seedy Saturday. Even if you haven’t got any vegetable seeds, come out anyway to share with other gardeners and seed saving enthusiasts. If you saved tomato seeds and peppers, please bring them, as many people are looking for these local seeds.

If you can’t make to the packing party on January 13th, there will be a seed-packing table at Seedy Saturday.

Besides the usual seed exchange, a gardening/farming/local sustainability book and magazine has been added to Seedy Saturday. There’s room for double the amount of community information and demonstration tables and workshops at the Powell River Recreation Complex.

And.
Mark your calender for the Sunday February 21st talk with Robin Wheeler,
author of 2008 book, ‘Food Security for the Faint-hearted’.

(Robin’s earlier book was, ‘Gardening for the Faint-hearted’ so bring along your gardening questions, too!)

Grain amaranth is an attractive plant with tender, edible leaves when young. It grows between 4 and 8 feet with red/maroon leaves with seed heads yielding many tiny seeds.

Amaranth seed is high in protein (15-16%) and contains essential amino acids that are not frequently found in grains. Amaranth contains three times as much fiber and five times as much iron as wheat, as well as twice the calcium of milk. Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a high quality complete protein. Amaranth also contains a form of vitamin E, which lowers cholesterol. Cooked amaranth is easily digested, and has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period.

The seeds of amaranth produce seedlings that are tiny and somewhat fragile in comparison to crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans. Amaranth seedlings can easily be blocked from emergence by a thin crust on the soil formed after a rain. Select soils that are lower in clay, and manage the seedbed to minimize chance of crusting. The optimum time for planting, is early June, but it can be planted with little yield difference from the second week in May until mid-June. After mid-June, yields start to drop off.

Wait to harvest until about a week after the first hard frost, letting the frost completely kill the plant and make the crop drier for harvesting. Amaranth seeds may start to shatter and fall to the ground if the crop is left standing too long, after a frost has occurred.

Real Seeds has a detailed photo essay on how to process amaranth.

http://www.realseeds.co.uk/amaranthprocessing.html

Hope gardeners consider growing a few plants when they get some seeds at Seedy Saturday.

Cindy D from NIHM Farm, south of Powell River brought a big bag of ungleaned Amaranth to the recent 2009 pilot project meeting.

I have never grown Amaranth.
Will need to research how to grow and harvest the plant and save the seed. This has inspired me to make a series of posts in 2010, describing a little about saving vegetable/grain seeds from A(maranth………to Z(ucchini).

Invite you to share both your experiences and questions about the same vegetables, as the blog posts roll along.

Another source of seed-saving inspiration was the 15 gardeners who showed up at the meeting to process approximately 500 envelopes of locally grown seed.

Most of these envelopes have been stamped, with Seed Saving Project. That way, when you show up at Seedy Saturday on March 13th, you’ll be able to identify seeds grown for the Project by dedicated growers. That isn’t to say, that all these seed will necessarily grow well but it’s a start in that direction. Everyone involved, is committed to local sustainability and making personal efforts towards that end.

The Powell River Farmers’ Insitute has 1000 more envelopes but chances are: another 500 envelopes might get saved at the upcoming Kale Force seed packing bee on January 13th. Off to order more envelopes!

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.

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.

Collected your garden seeds from last year, but never got around to putting them in envelopes, to trade at Seedy Saturday?

Got paper bags, jam jars, used envelopes of seed, earmarked for donation to Seedy Saturday?

You’re a gardening/food security enthusiast, with a couple of spare hours and a desire to have some fun and network with other seed-saving gardeners?

If your answer is, positive to any of the three above questions:

Come tomorrow, Wednesday, February 11th to the Community Resource Center on Joyce Avenue in Powell River to our seed-packing bee/party.
Pot-luck with local gardening group, Kale Force at 5:00 p.m. and work ‘party’ from 6-8 p.m.

And if you’re thinking this is a late announcement. Rest assured that, this message, has been passing around that most effective of communication devices, the human ‘telegraph’, word-of-mouth for the past few months. It’s more of a last reminder of the date to locals. And a hello!
To the international seed-saving community.