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!

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!

Seeds For Distribution Available!

Finally, after what seems like about a million years, the seeds for distribution are finally available. You can mosey on over here and take a look. There are 25 varieties of tomatoes and 3 varieties of beans currently up for offer. Some are in very low quantities, so if you see something you like, snag it up quick because they won’t be available for another 7-10 years.

I’ve also been updating the database with a few photos, so you can see all the tomato and beans are looking so far this year. Everything in the garden was pushed back about three weeks due to some wacky weather, but with the heat, and some rain now offsetting that heat a bit, everything is finally growing fast and furious. I hope to be updating with fruit photos before July is out.

2015 Kicks Off

This is when most of the seed bank is done. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. Once the plants go in the ground (or pots) they mostly seem to take care of themselves, except for watering and bagging blossoms. I’m outside amongst the plants, picking and preening and generally fussing, but it hardly feels like work.

When I say work, I mean the planning, and I guess what makes it more work-like is that I spend hours sitting in front of the computer, reconciling what’s in the bank with what my database says, updating the database so I can track where everything is, and then of course the pouring over what’s in the bank (via the database) deciding what needs to get grown, and figuring out which seeds are going to which growers. When I say work, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, because I thoroughly do. Every gardener knows that planning your garden is a great way to get over the doldrums of winter.

And this winter has been a tricky one. We’ve, overall, had a warmer than normal winter, which is great because it’s not -20C constantly, but also awful because it makes it feel like spring is that much closer when you know it actually isn’t.

But, it has made me be really early this year with getting the 2015 growing season in order, and that is a feat unto itself, because before February I have the list of what’s getting grown this year, which growers are getting what seeds, and I’ve even planned out the seed starting schedule to the day of when everything needs to get sown.

The past couple of years have really been about getting all that super old seed grown out and in good quantity, and I can now say, at the end of 2015 everything will be 100% caught up if all goes according to plan, which of course means lots more room and time for acquiring new varieties. That is exciting.

Without further ado, here’s the list of what’s getting grown out for 2015 and here’s the growers participating this year.

I’ve already been busy acquiring seeds for the bank as well, and that will be posted in a future update.

I’ve also been fiddling with the wiki quite a bit, and now you can view which varieties have been grown in which year.

Helping the bank

The seed bank is still running it’s annual seed sale to help fund the endeavours of this year, which includes (but isn’t limited to!), postal costs, website costs, and most importantly, acquiring new varieties. Please consider purchasing some seed from the etsy shop, it goes a lot way to helping keeping the bank going for another year.

I do accept donations as well. You can read about donating here.

And, of course, I am always accepting donations of varieties into the bank that we do not currently have. You can read about donating your seeds here.

Stay tuned for the list of new acquisitions coming up in a future post!