End of Season Update

Oh what a year it’s been for the garden!

It started out pretty rough, the seedlings were weak when transplanted, and I wasn’t sure they would all make it (they did!). Then they all grew so fast, my plots were like tiny little jungles in the middle of the prairie. Then it got hot – and stayed hot, even at night. So when they did finally start producing fruit, a lot of them dropped early on. I actually stopped weighing the harvest as I went along, because I knew the data I was collecting wasn’t indicative of a regular year at all. And, to tell you the truth, the numbers were bumming me out.

So finally the fruit starts ripening (very, very late – late August for the early varieties), and then it started raining. Constantly. So, the blight started with my one ‘Lyana’ plant I had, and then ripped through the whole patch in the blink of an eye.

We even had a little bit later of a killing frost this year, but it didn’t even matter because the plants were practically dead at that point anyway.

So, bit of a rough year.

A few of my varieties I didn’t get any fruit from – too hot, then too rainy and they just gave up (I could commiserate, I felt like doing that at one point too). I did get fruit out of the vast majority before the blight came, but not anywhere near the harvests I normally do.

So, the good news is, there will be seed! The bad news is, not as much to distribute as I normally have in a given year.

I’ll be updating quantities I have, the seed sale will start within the next 1-2 months, and the wiki of course will be getting updated over the period of the next two weeks.

Then it’s onto looking at what needs to be grown next year! Although I think I’ll have to give the soil a bit of a rest and grow mostly non-tomato crops next year (gasp!). I’m such a tomato fiend, I have no idea what that’ll look like.

Mid-Season Update

It’s been a while, but the garden has been growing like mad! After a pretty severe bump early in the spring – everything almost got burned back to the stems because we had no moisture and incredibly high heat for May in my neck of the woods – everything is humming along beautifully now! It was seriously at the point where I wasn’t sure if I would have a garden this year, and while everything is a little late because of said burning, most of the plants have bounced back beautifully. There’s lots to do every week, and as August comes on I’m just hoping for a late frost this year to really give everything time to grow and ripen.

Seriously, I had a dream about it snowing the other night, so this is obviously on my mind!

Without further ado, here’s a few snapshots of the plants this year taken between one and four weeks ago.

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!