Become involved!

I have just returned from an International Organic Seed Alliance conference in Corvallis, Oregon.  It was inspiring and exciting, pointing out some great ideas for our farm and seed business, connecting all the people involved in seed saving around the world in a global community.  It was great to see so many like-minded people together in one room!  This conference has grown from just 65 to over 500 in a little over 12 years or so.  I think that is phenomenal.  You can see what they do online at

http://seedalliance.org/2016-conference

Some of the great ideas that emerged from the conference were:

  1.  Organizing a group of people interested in seed grow outs in cooperation with A’Bunadh
  2. Organize a co-op of growers for fresh produce
  3. Growing out varieties for larger seed companies on contract
  4. Organizing a grower-market network to join Chefs and farm-fresh products complete with public tasting events for new plant varieties
  5. Integrated plant breeding for resilience and climate change ( making the heirlooms of tomorrow) with open-pollinated and heirloom seeds as parents
  6. The development of regionally adapted seeds for organic growers and gardeners

 

Often we think that we need to keep the heirlooms as they are and in one sense that is where my focus has been.  However in this mindset we do not allow for the small and subtle changes that the heirlooms themselves go through as they adapt to the climate and the seasons.  They are grown here and in Toronto, and in California.  The seeds from the next generation are inevitably changed in this very process.  That is good.  That is what the plants know best, how to survive in different growing conditions, soils, inputs and weather.

So the natural evolution of the seed is one thing.  But the next step is natural cross pollination, which we often seek to avoid in growing pure seed.  And it is valid and valuable.  However, with the advance of climate change, seeds and varieties are under even more strain to adapt and do it quickly.  Each season varies dramatically from the one prior; one year it is hot and dry with pests threatening their survival, the next it is wet and cool, bringing viruses and molds, fungus and other diseases, as well as less than optimal ripening conditions.  We should not forget that plants hold a plethora of genetic material for the expression of an enormous amount of variation.  A plant can adapt if we can help it to survive the worst challenges, grasshoppers and the worst droughts.

I have long been intensely interested in natural development of plants, helping bring out the hidden potentials in the seeds themselves.  We are facilitators and even without us the plants would do this natural crossing to create different varieties.  We are a fulcrum in their development, tipping the scale in one direction or another by our needs for taste, texture, color, shape, size and other factors that appeal to us as humans with eyes, noses, mouths and stomaches.  In the past 50 years, agriculture has tipped the scale to support varieties that handle mechanical seeding, maintenance, harvesting and processing.  This has nothing to do with taste.

So where do we come in?  At A’Bunadh the year ahead has been planned out.  We have a long range plan that encompasses active plant breeding, and for many years I personally have been trying to figure out how we can bring more seed to more people which will ensure the survival of the seed, not just us, around the world.  If I lose a variety, chances are if someone somewhere out there has been growing it for seed also, that variety will not be lost forever.  So I have thought that the idea of having some people who are interested in becoming a grower, even for one type of seed (lettuce for example) will help everyone in the long run.

So I am opening it up to you.  Are you intrigued by the idea of being part of this?  Do you have a small amount of space that you could have up to 12 plants that you could save seed from?  We would provide the seed and could either arrange to purchase back the seed saved by you for a certain predetermined price or we can do a 50/50 share of the seed.  You can share or sell your share with others or plant it out the next year.  This might interest anyone who has a market garden since they have larger need for seed and many are organic growers.  However, this is also for small backyard gardeners who can amount to a larger population of growers.  We would want to highlight you in our catalogue as a grower to share your story (if you like) as people like to know the stories of those who join our community.

We would provide all the training and support as well as the initial seed stock.  Please email me if you are interested.

We will work next on doing the chef involvement and food events.  But now is the time for planning.  So if you have interest in that, let me know.

I am going to start plant variety development soon also.  I would love to coordinate with people interested in this.  The more the merrier.  This is such a cool area of growth!  Quite literally!  The potentials are enormous, and again involvement with Foody Chefs that want new, different and unique is a must.  If you are interested or are a Chef, let me know now, and we will work on creating something wonderful in concert.

Thanks everyone,

Happy growing,  Denise

 

 

Upcoming

Hi there;

I am almost done the new catalogue and we are storming ahead packaging seeds like crazy for the upcoming sales.

Here are our dates:

March 12 – Stony Plain Seedy Saturday

March 13 – Red Deer Eco Fair

March 19 – Calgary Seedy Saturday

March 20 – Edmonton Seedy Sunday

I took potatoes last year, but got hassles about that apparently not being acceptable, so we have changed things up a bit so that everyone can still get great potatoes and I will not have to worry about the government coming in and taking the farm.

If you want some potatoes which are great for eating and as you all know you can also choose of your own volition to plant them in the ground…

then I will have them available for eating through the website only.  Please call me in advance or email me to let me know what you want and I will reserve them for shipment in April or we can arrange a meet in Edmonton one weekend and everyone can come to a central location for pickup.  Shipment is not that bad and you get fabulous tasty potatoes at your disposal any time.

I am off this week to the Organic Seed growers Conference for North America in Corvalis Oregon, thanks to the Bauta Family Seed initiative and the cross Canada Seed Growers Alliance group.  We will meet there to discuss Canadian grower issues and it will be very exciting.  Let you all know how it goes when I get back!

We have some great new varieties of tree seeds for landscaping trees and I have some White, Burr and Red Oak seedlings for sale, $3 per tree, for spring and summer delivery.  Email me at smileyo at xplornet dot ca if you are interested.

We will also do limited amounts of raspberry canes, red currants and comfrey root for those interested, prices vary and so does availability.

We will be starting plants soon, so if you want tomatoes, peppers, cukes, corn or anything else that I have seed for and want me to start plants, let me know by the end of February.  Thanks everyone,

Posting catalogue soon,

Denise

Sangudo Gardener’s Workshop

Hi everyone,

If you are close and are interested in learning more about great garden design or growing garlic, the Sangudo Horticulture Club is hosting an open public workshop day on Jan 23 from 9:30 to 4:30 at the Sangudo Community Hall.  Admission includes lunch and great speakers, an all day event with a trade show of local vendors and a silent auction.  This is a great teaching forum and fundraiser for the club.  See details on the poster and registration form.  Hope you will join in.

2016 Sangudo Gardener Day, registration

2016 Sangudo Gardener Day, poster

Hola – It is Springtime!

Hello all in seed land!

I am writing from Mexico and a quick holiday with Family.  Here things are as always blooming and green, big Mangos hang on the trees and the land is graced with many exotic flowers and fruits.  It is not that way in short-season land, but alas we will do what we can.

Back home, Mom and I have many plants started, and as I have not heard from too many people about starter plants, we have nonetheless, as we always do, have some started tomatoes and peppers, herbs and other plants.  I know for sure I will have hot peppers galore and will have an abundance to share if anyone wants to get some for their gardens.  It is still early and of course you will not want to put them out until after the first week of June, earlier, like May 25 if you want to watch and cover for unexpected frosts.  However, no one really knows what the weather will do this year, and we may well have a very early spring.

I have worked up some land that has not been turned in over 20 years this spring.  Before we left, I plowed.  It was April 15.  Unheard of for many years.  I worked up some land for a new garden spot, 50 X 50 feet or thereabouts and another acre or 2 flowing along the field, following the contours of the rolling hills in the spirit of Permacultural principles.  We are experimenting with Restoration Agricultural practices, and making the plow flow along a gradient of the field is working with the idea that the waterflow down the hills will be interrupted and create less runoff, more of it flowing to the surrounding subsoil, penetrating deeper into the area, disrupting erosion cycles and creating more little pools along the sides of the slopes.  We hope to plant trees on the sides of the plowed areas, hazelnuts, raspberries, currants and other berries, with apple trees, and other fruit bearing trees interspersed.  That is the long term plan if we can get the Moose and Deer to leave them alone long enough to sprout up taller than they can reach.  That takes lots of electric fence!  Anyway, we are excited about the project and the possibilities.  Right now, the plowed sites will sit until mid summer or early fall so the sod can decompose and then I will disc it and work it into a plot for next year’s wheat.

Potatoes will go into the ground when I return home, and the garlic was coming up great guns when I uncovered it in early April.  Some of the sprouts were 2″ long under the straw.  I found the straw mulch was perfect insulation for the winter, and we did have lots of snow as well  The straw I used was a bit mildewy, which kept the mice out, and there was no damage from them.  When I uncovered the garlic, some of the oat seeds in the straw had begun to sprout, but it was still cold at night and they were frostkilled which was great because I did not have to worry about them continuing to grow and choke out the garlic, or create a lot of weeding for me or the chickens.  I did actually consider taking over my two favorite hens to follow me down the rows eating all the sprouted grain, but it is better this way, because my chickens also like the newly sprouted garlic greens first thing in the spring.  Last year they were very instrumental in keeping the garlic patch at home weed free by continually scratching around in the straw in the garlic patch, and their browsing on the greens did not seem to harm the garlic.  This year, the garlic patch had grown and I needed to move it to Mom’s, just down the road, so there are no longer chickens there to help.  But it is working out ok so far.

I have sold out of a few seeds, and so if anyone still wants seeds just check with me prior to your order, and I will let you know if I have everything.  Thanks,

Denise

PS.  I have 2 brown roosters and one white one, that I will sell to anyone wanting a rooster.  They are $10 each.  Thanks, D

Fall Harvest

Hi fans of seeds;

It was a good season and I am busy wrapping up the garden produce and cataloguing the new varieties that did extremely well despite the drought conditions.  It is worth it to know that these older varieties can withstand the extremes in temperatures, rainfall, and even frost.  IT was a pretty long season and a hot one and therefore the corn did well as did the squash.  I had a 24 lb. zucchini looking butternut squash and the Fairytale and Galeux de L’Esines pumpkins did very well also.  Beans and peas were good producers despite the weedy conditions foisted upon them and we had a decent harvest of multicolored tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  The green lentils were abundant and even the cucumbers managed to produce something.  So all in all it was a very forgiving year and I am pleased to announce we have lots of varieties of potatoes and jerusalem artichokes to offer.  I will have some broccoli seed for next year and a few surprises yet to be announced.  Anyone wishing to order seed potatoes now or looking for organic potatoes can give me a call at seven-eight-zero, seven-eight-five, two six, two two.  I am out of town currently, back on Oct 15.  So here is what I have that is new:

Danish – medium sized, white skin, white flesh potato, drier potato

Oma’s Saskatchewan – large white baker, from Seed saver in Saskatchewan, from her grandmother’s heritage varieties.

Egypt – oblong white skin, white flesh, multipurpose, did well in drought

Ukrainian – flattish, white baking and perogy potato, white skin and flesh

Irish cobbler – whiteish yellow flesh, good all round potato from Ireland

Warba’s (similar to Raymond’s Russian) – see below

Raymond’s Russian – medium rounded, white with deep pink eyes, moist potato, land race variety

Green Mountain – big white good keepers, multipurpose potato

Nooksack – brown netted skin, white flesh, moister type baking and fry potato.  From the Nooksak Native tribe

Tolaas – white skin, white flesh, moist multipurpose potato.  From a potato fanatic friend.

Fianna – white skin and flesh, Irish variety from my worldwide travelling potato friend.

Chaleur – good producer of white skin, white flesh rounded potatoes that are mid-season and good keepers.

Wendy’s Purple – purple skin and white flesh, good sized oblong tubers, good producer, multipurpose potato

Caribe – A medium to large white fleshed, purple skinned potato for baking and fries.  Good perogy potato.

Purple chief – Like a chieftain, only darker red skin, almost purple.

Chieftain – Red skin, white flesh, early for boiling, baking, potato salad

Pontiac – prolific producer of red skinned, white fleshed early potatoes

Norland – red skin, white flesh, round and large early potatoes

NorDonna – good producer, comparable to Red Norland, better if irrigated.  It is oblong, no dry hollow centers and red skin and white smooth flesh. A recent introduction.

Heather’s Red – probably a Viking with good sized red tubers of excellent quality, deep skin color and white flesh.  Keeps well for a red potato.

Sangre – red skin, white flesh, drier red type and early potato

Bintje – huge producer of medium to large sized white skin, white flesh bakers.  Not too dry, mid to late season, but worth the wait.

Agria – large sized, good producer, white flesh and round to oblong.  Multipurpose.

Red Cloud – med to small red skin, white flesh, fluffy baking potato

Red Gold – red skin, golden flesh, small to medium round, moist flesh type.

Yukon gold – tan skin, gold flesh, moist potatoes

Onaway – white skin and flesh, sometimes deep eyes and misshapen, heritage variety for early fresh eating.

Shepody – oblong white skin and flesh tubers, medium to large.  Good producer, multiuse.

All red – red skin, red flesh, fun baking, boiling and mashing, remains pink color

All Purple – purple skin and flesh that hangs around in the bowl when cooked.  Large sized tubers, good producer.

Early Ohio – an early white skin white flesh baker and for boiling.

Red Finger – a larger type oblong red skin, white flesh potato.  moist and good for use with skin on.

Lorette Fingerling – white skin and yellowish flesh, good for baking whole or split fries, limited offering

French Fingerling – Red skin, whitish flesh, moist fingerling.

Pink Fir Apple- or pink rose or fingerling, an excellent fingerling potato, pink skin, yellowish flesh, moist and waxy

Yellow finger – late producer of an abundance of yellow skin and flesh waxy fingerling potatoes, does better with ample hilling and water.

I think that is all I can offer.

I have these Jerusalem Artichokes

Passamasquoddy Potatoes – abundant producer of good sized red skinned round squat tubers.

Clearwater – ivory skin, white flesh, squat good sized tubers

Skorospelka – High yielder from Russia, rose/pink skin, white flesh, good sized, excellent

Stampede – yellow skin, white flesh, high yields and fairly smooth for first couple of years.

Beaver Valley Purple – long purple tubers, getting quite big if left in place for 2 years.  Good producer. White crisp flesh.

Corlis Bolton Haynes – white round tubers of good overwintering survival in the soil, similar to Carmen but more knobs.  Good size if left until after first snowfall.

Carmen Heirloom – white roundish tubers of good size,  tend to get overcrowded on one stem.

That is all for now,

thanks, Denise