Monday, 19 January 2009

A Tale of Five Seeds - The Beginning

So I have taken the plunge and joined the Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada. I've chosen my five seed types that I will plant and report back on, and confirmed all this with the organizer of the whole project. So here are 'the chosen five' along with a little blurb about why I chose it:

1) Echinacea: I've been wanting to grow this for a couple years now. I buy the echinacea pills all the time and do take them whenever I feel a sore throat or cold coming on, and while I have a cold. It does seem to help minimize the severity and the length of the colds I get, although the one I have now is a doozy and nothing seems to help. I have also thought that it would be a good thing to take as a tea regularly, and maybe something I could sell/trade if TEOTWAWKI circumstances arrive. Or even if they don't. Plus the flowers are pretty.

2) Chinese Rhubarb: I was planning on planting some kind of rhubarb this Spring because it is one of the first things that is harvestable in my cold climate, and I do love the tart taste of rhubarb made like applesauce. It freezes well, and its flavor reminds me of being a kid. And apparently the flavor of this variety is superior to most others. Then when I noticed that you can use the leaves as a bug repellent and the fibre for paper, I definitely wanted to try this variety out.

3) Golden Rocky Bean: I had great luck with my bush snap beans last year. I didn't measure the yield objectively, but I'm sure that the amount of food per square foot of beans planted was the most of anything I planted last year. So when I saw that this bean can be used as a fresh bean in summer and then dried to use as a black bean in winter, I just had to try it. I will still pickle some beans, because they were so delicious that way, but being able to dry the beans to use another way is very practical.

4) Burnet Saxifraga: Ever since hearing the Urban Gardener speak last Spring, I've been wanting to try growing some perennial salad greens. This one seems to fit the bill, and as a bonus our two guinea pigs are likely to enjoy these greens as well. I bought a few more potentially perennial green seeds as well, but this one sounded like the most cold hardy, and so the most likely to survive our cold winters.

5) Parsely Giante d'Italia: This is a cold hardy parsely, that apparently will seed itself quite easily. It is also a rare cultivar, so I thought I'd give something rare a try! And again, the guinea pigs eat parsely as a fairly regular treat, so I grow some kind of parsely every year. I've just never tried growing it from seed before, so this could be interesting!

I've cobbled together a spreadsheet with the categories I'm thinking of using for record-keeping purposes, but thanks to a comment from Apple Jack Creek I may switch over to a photo-based record system, which will probably convey a lot more information. Thanks for the suggestion AJC!

Picture courtesy New Botany


SoapBoxTech said...

Good luck! you rock, Theresa.

Theresa said...

Well hey, thanks. I don't think I've ever rocked before :)

EJ said...

I would suggest the spreadsheet with pics.

Photos say so much, but dates and comments are invaluable, too.

I use Bento, a simple Mac database program. Easy to set up, tables can be imported, drag and drop photos. Paper notes are great back up.

Theresa said...

A combination method sounds good. I use a PC at the moment so I'm assuming the Mac Bento program won't work for me? Although I will google it further, since those Mac people do seem to make things compatible with PCs these days. I do want a paper back up too - something I can actually take out the garden with me....

Green Assassin Brigade said...

While I did not join the Santuary program I did just recieve an order from salt Spring with the intention of vaccum packing several varieties of dry beans/wheat/amaranth/soy etc for future years and planting 1 variety of each plant class with the sole intention of increasing my amount of seed.

I plan on planting Orca or Candy dry beans, bronze amaranth, Kamut, blue tinge ethiopian wheat and more if I can con some some friends into giving up part of their back yards for my project.

I just ordered mylar bags and oxygen absorbers so I can properly pack away both my extra varieties I don't plant this year and my finished crop.

I just wish I had access to more gardens far enough apart that I could increase all my purchases without risk of cross breeding.

In the "I'm allowed to eat it" part of the garden I've decided to add a new veg we don't normaly eat each year to broaden our tastes, this year I'm adding Parsnips.

Theresa said...

GAB, from where do you order the mylar bags and oxygen absorbers? I was just going to store my seeds in a cool dark place, but maybe I should get a bit more assertive.

I grew a tiny patch of the blue tinge wheat last year - it grew like crazy with little water and little work, and it was a little bit blue. The Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary website ( some good tips for threshing grains on a small scale if you haven't already checked those out.

I can't remember how parsnips taste, but those would be good winter keepers I'm sure. for thought.

EJ said...

Here's an excellent post on record keeping.

I also take weather and garden notes in a Lee Valley garden journal. Each page it set up for 10 years of notes. Once you've made a few entries it becomes a great record keeping method.

Theresa said...

I wondered about those Lee Valley journals. I'm a sucker for a nicely bound journal - it's good to know it would be worth it if I splurged!

Were you meaning to include a link in your first sentence?

EJ said...

Heres the link:

The Lee Valley journal is the best I've seen, but the binding isn't great. Good concept, poor-fair quality. Lots of nice hand made journals online, tho.

GAB said...

I'm finding some contradictory information on vaccum packaging. One site on emergency supplies that sells mylar and ox absorbers says seeds do best packed dry in air while the company I bought prepackaged freezer ready seed kit says they pack the seeds with the absorbers.

I'll use the bags and absorbers for food anyway so there will ben no waste but now I'm confused how to package my seeds.


This was the only Canadian supplier I found, more costly on the product but no international postage or customs to deal with

GAB said...

mmmmm. another article says climate control is the most important issue, keep them dry, dark and cool regardless of being packaged in air, co2,N, or vacuum.

Hell I've left tomatoes seeds open on my plant stand from year to year and they still grow so I think the issue of bagging is only relevant if we are talking long term storage. Since I expect to need these seeds in bulk within the next 5 years the loss of viability will be minimal, that said Mylar is still a great moisture, light and bug barrier so I think I will use it anyway and vacuum pack 1/2 of each variety and do my own tests in 5 years.

Theresa said...

EJ - thanks for that link, I will certainly peruse that blog for the record keeping stuff....

GAB - thanks also for your link - I'll check that out as well. It does seem prudent to store some things one way and some another, just to cover the bases. I did just read in on the Seed Sanctuary website that beans like to 'breath' a bit though, so those probably shouldn't be in the mylar. How neat you also got the seeds from SaltSpring Seeds :) I would love to go visit there sometime - it's a lovely place.