State of the Bank – Quick Update

Hello all! Busy time over here, and I’ve had a few emails saying “there’s been no updates since August!” so I thought I’d pop up a quick one just to let everybody know I’m still alive.

In the past six or so weeks we’ve had a killer frost, so I’ve been saving seeds like mad in an orderly rotation. I’m just finishing up the last of the drying now, so the seeds to become available will be announced in a few weeks. This year I will be holding a fundraiser, so selling seeds before they become available cheaply for no cost (other than shipping) later on. This is to ensure I can keep acquiring more seeds in the next year for the bank.

A few weeks as well have been spent dedicated to the Seeds of Diversity AGM which wrapped up yesterday in Victoria (thanks to all who came out!). We have lots of things planned for the upcoming year as a Board of Directors, so we’re all pretty excited.

And, last but not least, I know the database here on the site is showing a whole whack of errors at the moment, which I’m trying to fix up as fast as possible. I’ll update when that is all said and done.

That’s all for now, stay tuned!

State of the Garden – August

It sure feels like autumn’s coming up, and I’ve even spotted some leaves starting to change. I’m not overly thrilled about that, but I am sure thrilled with the tomatoes and how amazingly well they’ve been doing this year. I’ve had the best tomato harvests and plants I’ve ever grown, and the weather has been perfect for them. It’s been a banner year, and I’ll be sad to see it go, but at the same time it makes me really excited for next year.

Yesterday I harvested about 9kg. It’s probably my biggest haul in one day, but as of right now (including yesterday) I’ve harvested 20.65 kg. And that’s not even half of what’s on the vines – I won’t be surprised if I get 100lbs easy.

I’m going to have so many seeds to share this year, I’m ecstatic! I’ve already started the seed saving, which has had to be moved to the garage, because I don’t have enough room in the house for all the cups anymore.

I’ve also been slowly updating the database – mostly with photos right now, but specific growth information is slowly going up as well.

What a great year, I’m over the moon.

This year I got two sports that don’t show the characteristics of what they’re supposed to be:
30-kimsport-smKimberley Sport – small rugose leaf (rather than potato), grows only about 1ft so it’s a dwarf. Determinate. Shiny skin with lobed fruit, no characteristics of either Tiny Tim or Siberian (Kimberley’s parent plants).

19-marysaustrian-smMary’s Austrian Sport – large 5ft indeterminate plant, produces grape shaped pink jewel toned fruit. Nice flavour, nothing like the roma-type this is supposed to be. I contacted the seed seller who received the seeds from the family, and she’s never grown a tomato like it (so it’s not cross contamination), and she confirmed it was nothing like what Mary’s Austrian is. So this one is officially a natural cross that I’ll be regrowing and stabilizing because it’s wonderful.

I’ve also got some freak tomatoes this year, which is always fun:

The first photo is Tomato ‘Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi’ with a hole that’s grown into it (doughnut tomato!), the second is some dirty ‘Stupice’ (because I’m immature and it made me giggle).

And here’s some more tomato eye candy for you, these varieties (and many others) will all be offered in varying quantities.

Top L-R: ‘Fargo Yellow Pear’, ‘Kootenai’, ‘Chocolate Stripes’, ‘Perestroika’
Bottom L-R: ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Tangerine’

State of the Garden – July

I’m not going to lie, when I moved here I was absolutely petrified about how my garden would turn out. The past few years here in Edmonton, I’ve heard, have not proven to be good for tomatoes, and with my 40-or-so varieties that needed growing out for the seed bank this year, I really needed a banner year.

So far, my fears have proven completely unfounded, and even my husband, whose interest in my garden only extends to “what can I eat?”, has noticed how amazingly the plants are doing.

Sure, the season started a bit late this year, but the hard work I put into transforming that 300 sq ft patch of sod, has proven to really pay back in what is going to be an amazing harvest.

With sunny, high-twenties days, and then some rainfall at night, has proven to be a boon for the tomato gardens, and they’ve just been going crazy.

The clay/sand soil I was so upset with initially (on the coast it’s a curse), has proven to be a gift here in the very dry prairies, retaining moisture well without proving to get too heavy. Which the tomatoes are loving.

If crazy hail storms can stay away, and we don’t get an early frost, this is really going to be an amazing year. I think the harvests are going to be better than I ever had on the west coast, even accounting for the difference in season lengths.

All the tomatoes now have blossoms bagged, and many are setting fruit. I’m really excited for the amount of varieties I’ll be able to offer this year through the bank.

For now, here’s a few photos from the gardens.

Row 1 (L-R): Zapotec Pink Pleated, Stupice, Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi
Row 2 (L-R): Ireland Creek Annie, Tomato Jungle, Fargo Yellow Pear

Seed Saving Workshop Announced!

I’m pleased to say that I’ll be hosting a beginner level seed saving workshop, hosted by the Richfield community garden in Edmonton, Ab! There’ll be lots of information and hand outs provided to those who come, and lots of questions answered. I’ll be going over the most common (and maybe a few uncommon) edible plants to save seeds from, along with demonstrations.

The topics will include:

  • Specifics of saving seeds for different edible plants
  • The difference between heirloom, open pollinated, and hybrid plants
  • Modes of pollination, and how it affects your seed saving
  • How to store your seeds for the short term and long term
  • …plus any questions people may have!

Location: Richfield Community Garden (pipeline right-of-way at 86 St & 36A Ave)*
Cost: $5 requested donation, 100% of proceeds going to the Richfield Community Garden
Date: July 27th, 2-3pm.
*In the case of inclimate weather, the workshop will be located indoors at 19 Keegano NW, the Keegano Housing Co-Op community hall.

Please RSVP to k (at) populuxe (dot) ca if you wish to attend

Hope to see you there!

Thanks to Sustainable Food Edmonton and the Richfield Community Garden for support.

Seed Starting is Upon Us

IMG_3102After what’s seemed like a winter that just won’t stop, we’ve finally hit normal temperatures for this time of year, and the seed started last week are all starting to pop up. Every year I have this crippling fear, which I’ve dubbed “Seed Starting Anxiety Syndrome”, that centers around me being positive that none of my seeds will germinate, and it’ll be a big bust.

Of course that never happens, and except for the few odd seeds that are extremely old and have come to me, maybe not stored in the best conditions, they all germinate just fine.

But yet, I still have that anxiety every year.

I use a website called Folia to log everything as it’s happening. I have no direct affiliation with the site, besides being a fan (and an initial beta tester many years ago), but it’s become indispensable for my record keeping, just to see when everything happens (is that variety actually 60 days to maturity, or was it longer?). If you’re interested in the day-to-day of how the seed bank plants are doing, follow the link above, and you can see it all go down there.

The seeds that have popped up for the seed bank this year only the tomatoes currently, and they are:

    Zapotec Pink Pleated
    Sophie’s Choice
    Yellow Lemon
    Green Grape
    Green Zebra
    Sibirsky Velikan Rozovyi
    Fruhe Liebe
    Keeping Tom
    Pink Zebra
    Mary’s Austrian
    Chocolate Stripes
    Fargo Yellow Pear
    Yellow Pear

Still waiting on a few tomato varieties, the peppers, and the eggplants.

Today I’ll be starting some short season melons, and some squash.

As they grow, I’ll be posting more pictures. Stay tuned!