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!

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.