2016 Round Up

Populuxe Seed Bank on CBC

This one is pretty exciting, and I’ve been sitting on the announcement for a few weeks now. I was interviewed by CBC for their latest episode of Ideas! The episode is (as you might expect) all about seed banks.

It’s called Seed Banks: Re-sowing Paradise, and you can take a listen right over here. There are a ton of really interesting people interviewed, and they talk about everything from Svalbard to my little seed bank right here.

Seed Sales

Thank you to all of you who have sent me a message already hoping to purchase some seeds from the bank this year – your excitement is wonderful! They’re not quite ready yet (they’re currently undergoing germination testing), but they’re coming soon!

Expect to hear a formal announcement in January, and as usual they will be sold through the Populuxe Seed Bank etsy store. I will have lower quantities than most years due to the weather this summer, so get them while you can once they are announced. As always, seed sales will be announced on the mailing list first.

Speaking of which…

The Mailing List

I’ve migrated over the mailing list to a new service. If you’ve already signed up, never fear, you’ve been migrated over as well, so there’s no need to re-sign up to receive the quarterly newsletter.

The real reason for the migration is to make it all easier on the back end, and that means more timely emails to all subscribers. As always, you can sign up using the handy form in the side bar to your left if you aren’t already a subscriber.

Members of the newsletter get discounts codes for seeds sold through the annual seed sale, along with special updates and news about the bank. It’s a quarterly newsletter, so your inbox won’t be inundated (I hate that too), and your sign up information is secure and won’t ever be sold.

Current Seed Bank Holdings

The list has been updated! There’ll be another smaller update in late winter/early spring as well, but for now you can check out what’s currently in the seed bank over here.

Last But Not Least…

This time of year is all about sharing, and there’s nothing more to me that harnesses that more than our community of seed savers and sharers all around the world.

So, whatever you do (or don’t) celebrate this time of year, from me to you, I hope you have a happy season with friends, family, and lots of good food!

See you all in 2017, which marks the 10th year anniversary of the Populuxe Seed Bank!

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.