Seed Starting Begins

This time of year is pretty high up on my list of favourite times of year. Not only after a long winter do I get to go out in the garden and sink my hands in the dirt again, but after what seems to be an interminable amount of time after deciding which varieties are on the docket this year, I get to finally start them.

Seed Starting Tray

I actually started them last weekend, and here in Edmonton the end of March is the perfect time to start tomatoes and peppers. It’s been so warm the past few weeks, I probably could have pushed that up a week, maybe even two. In all honesty, however, I didn’t predict the warmer weather we’d be having this year, and I had myself all planned out for the last weekend in March, so I stuck with it.

I have a list here of everything being grown out this year for the bank, so be sure to check it out.

Most of the tomatoes have already started to pop up since Monday, with a few stragglers still showing no signs of life (the seed, being old, slows down germination slightly), but I’m pretty confident that they’ll all, eventually, pop up.

As the season speeds up now, be sure to keep your eye on this spot, I’ll be detailing growth and how everything is coming along from now until the end of the season.


Lastly, I want to thank each and every person that has ordered seeds from the yearly seed bank fundraiser. The numbers keep increasing every year, and with that this bank is sure to keep humming long. It allows me to pay for server space for this website, and more importantly, source and purchase new varieties of seed. All of you who have purchased some seeds via the above link are doing so much to help keep this bank going, and you have my sincerest thanks.

2016 Grow Outs

I’ve been madly at work, pouring over lists and discussing what all of the volunteer growers want to grow out this year. This year there are over 50 varieties of tomato, along with approximately 10-15 varieties of other species (squash, lettuce, peas, beans, peppers, etc.).

I’m also pleased to be working with the Dan McMurray Community Seed Bank again, growing out six of Dan and Val’s fabulous varieties that they collected over their seed saving and sharing lives. I wrote a more detailed entry about the McMurray’s and my relationship with them here, which includes a link to the Seeds of Diversity magazine article I wrote about them. Dan and Val were instrumental in my experiences seed saving, along with the creation of this very bank, so it’s always a honour to be involved with their legacy.

Several additional varieties being grown out this year are some that I’ve received from Plant Gene Resources Canada, many of which have little available information. One of the things I love most about running this seed bank project is discovering new varieties (some of which quickly become my favourite like ‘Garden Lime’ and ‘El Naño’).

To view the whole list, head on over to the 2016 Seed Grow Out page and take a gander.

And, as always, a huge thank you to all the volunteer growers for this year – because without them, this project would be near impossible to do all by my lonesome.

Annual Fundraiser Now On!

Annual fundraiser happens here!

I’m always excited this time of year, because it means it’s time for the annual fundraiser! I’ve been typing my fingers off getting the Etsy store up to snuff to list the over 40 varieties from this year! I’m really pleased with that number – as I’ve lamented a few times over the previous year, it was a tough year for the tomatoes, but by far and large they pushed through really well.

The upside is, a tough year is always a good test to see what a variety is really made of, and there were a few real stand outs that not only chugged along, but flourished in the high temperatures and low moisture of 2015.

What does the annual fundraiser mean?

As many of you readers know, I run this project completely out of pocket – just for the love of the seeds. The love of discovering new varieties, the love of sharing those varieties.

But, costs do add up, and while this is completely a passion project, it is always nice to have a little help.

The seed bank does accept donations but the real funding comes from selling seeds. So each year I list all the varieties I have in large quantity (after the bankable quantities are put away for the next 7-10 years), I list the remainder for funding projects through the next year.

Donations are always a huge welcome, but with selling seeds you get something in return, and the seed bank in turn does its job – which is to distribute the seeds as widely as possible.

So head on over to the Etsy shop – take a poke around, and order any varieties that strike your fancy. You get some awesome seeds, and the seed bank gets much needed financial support for the coming year. I sell these seeds lower than what you would get at a normal garden shop. It’s a win-win!

Kicking Off 2016

It’s almost like you can hear crickets around this blog lately – and sometimes it feels like I’m saying that a lot!

I do plan on keeping more to a regular schedule this year. Winter is usually a little slower around the ol’ blog – most of the work is done behind the scenes: data entry, organizing all the grow-outs from the year, contacting growers, updating the wiki, organizing new seeds brought in, etc.

Right now I’m just finishing up tallying and totalling all varieties grown in 2015 – despite the somewhat lacklustre year, we (myself and the volunteer growers) did manage to get mostly good bankable quantities. There are a few varieties that will be re-grown again in 2016 in order to get those quantities up, but by far and large, another successful grow out year!

I have received some more samples from Plant Gene Resources Canada this year as well. I absolute love getting seeds from PGRC – I love the sense of mystery and discovery the most. Some of my favourite varieties I’ve gotten from them (most notably ‘El Nano’ and ‘Garden Lime’), so I’m always looking for more almost-forgotten gems. Here is a list of what I have, and what (little) information is available about them:

Tidlig Bush – Early, determinate. Marbled(?). Flat fruit shape. Smallish plant. From Norway – Tidlig means “Early”. Donated to PGRC from Alberta in 1974.

Karlik – Indeterminate, potato leaf variety. Marbled(?) skin. Early production, good yield. Oblate fruit. Originally collected from the former Soviet Union in Moscow, introduced to the USA via a donation to the USDA. Then donated to PGRC in 1965.

Elso Termes – Determinate, red fruit. Regular leaf. Early maturity. Donated to PGRC in 1983.

Novocserkaszkij – Oblate, somewhat pleated red fruit. Early, indeterminate, large plant. Large fruit. Donated to PGRC in 1984.

Parma – Red, oblate, pleated(?) fruit. Early maturity, indeterminate. Large plant. Regular leaf. Donated to PGRC in 1984.

Sirius – Early determiante vareity. Large plants, red spherical fruit. Regular leaf. Donated to PGRC in 1985.

Altajskij – Red, oblate, pleated fruit. Large plant, good production. Indeterminate. Good fruit set. Regular leaf. Donated to PGRC in 1986.

Herb Taylor Golden – Oblate, pleated fruit. Orange skin. Good leaf coverage. Mid-season. Indeterminate. Regular leaf. Donated to PGRC in 1991 from Virginia, USA.

Halicz – Ovate, red fruit. Small plant. Early production. Determinate. Regular leaf. Some radial cracking. Donated to PGRC in 1993 from Poland.

I do plan on growing all nine of these varieties, along with some other PGRC varieties I’ve received from previous years in 2016. The extended list is still on-going, so I will update as soon as that’s a bit more solidified.

As always, please check out the database to see growth notes from 2015 – I’m not updating as fast as I’d like, but then again, it is always an on-going process.

Until next time!

Quick End Of Season Round Up

It’s high time I posted an update, but I don’t have everything ready for a big round up yet, so this is pretty short and sweet.

I’m feverishly saving seeds at the moment, and almost everything has been saved. Another week or so and everything that was grown in my beds will be catalogued.

My illustrious volunteer growers are also starting to send their varieties in as well, and when their seasons round up all the final tallies will be in, and then the process begins all over again.

It’s been a season with a few ups and downs, so while this year wasn’t as fruitful (so to speak) as last year, I still managed to pull in a haul of about 160lbs of tomatoes, which isn’t too shabby.

I also received an interesting assortment of seeds from Plant Gene Resources Canada that I’ll be excited to trial in the gardens over the next 1-3 years, and I’ll be posting an update about those in the near future.

Stay tuned for a more thorough update coming soon!