Seeds Matter: Selecting Seeds for Success

posted in: Seeds | 0

By Jennifer Banks-Doll

“Gabbing About Gardening” is a new online gardening series that local gardener and organizer extraordinaire Lucretia Schanfarber has recently started.  It is targeted towards gardeners on Quadra and Cortes Islands, but the content is applicable far far beyond our islands, and I hope many people are able to take advantage of the learning as well as the support and fun that goes along with the friendly format.  To find out more, please check out the Quadra Island and Cortes Island Gardens Facebook Group or find Lucretia on Facebook.

The first presentation happened on January 4th and was by Adam Schick.  Adam is a longtime permaculture aficionado, organic market gardener and commercial seed saver from Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island, BC.  Find him on YouTube providing gardening tutorials here.

Adam commented that it is important to buy seeds that are adapted to your region.  If you live on Quadra or Cortes Island, buying seeds that come from a garden on the west coast of Canada is the best bet, rather than seeds from the southern USA or China, for example.

Here are Adam’s recommended seed varieties.  They are all currently available for purchase from Linnaea Farm, however you may be able to find them elsewhere as well.  In fact, Adam sells his seeds through the BC Eco Seed Co-op, and Salt Spring Seeds also sells some of his seeds.  Linnaea Farm’s website is having some issues right now so you can order using THIS FORM instead.

  • Snow Pea: Rembrandt (prolific if you pick it frequently, tasty)
  • Snap Pea: Amish
  • Dry Bean: Kenearly Bush Bean (thresh easily, early maturing, quick cooking)
  • Pole Bean: Fortex (they grow REALLY BIG so you only need a few to make a meal)
  • Squash: Early Butternut Remix (all the best butternut varieties in one squash!)
  • Squash: Delicata (easy to deal with and tasty too!)
  • Easy Grain: Amaranth (beautiful, tasty, and useful as a bee-attracting barrier between different varieties when you don’t want cross-pollination e.g. when seed saving)
  • Parsnip: Hollow Crown (overwinter better than carrots in the garden)
  • Leek: Linnaea Leek (harvest fall to spring for great eating all winter long!)
  • Flowers to attract pollinators: Sweet Pea (the most wonderful smell, the pollinators agree)

2020 saw a huge upswing in gardening and seed varieties are already selling out in 2021 so order soon!

More Seed Tips from Adam:

It is good to plant your seeds in season, usually when the soil has warmed up in May.  Don’t plant your seeds too early!  The result could be attacks by pests, weak plants, and veggies that don’t store well.  Instead, wait for signs from nature that it is planting time.  For example, when the daffodils are in bloom, you can start planting carrots.  When lilacs are in full bloom, it is time to plant out warm-season crops.  (For more tips, Google “using phenology to plant a garden.”)

Store your seeds in a cool place (4-5 degrees centigrade) with LOW relative humidity.

If your seeds are old, get them out early and do a germination test.  If your germ rate is low, they are still usable, just plant them more thickly!  Click here for info on how to do a germination test.

Adam also gave some great tips for shelling beans and peas:

  • Instead of eating a constantly depleting bowl of popcorn while watching Netflix, shell some beans or peas and watch your bowl fill up!
  • A helpful sieve for sorting is this product from Lee Valley.

Finally, are you wondering what to do right now, in January,, to prepare for a great gardening season?  Well, get those seeds ordered!  And after that?  Adam says it’s too early to be starting any seeds.  And it’s good to give yourself a break from endless seed catalogues and gardening manuals.  So what to do?  Read fiction!  Permaculture encourages us to diversify…so now, go diversify your mind and stop thinking about your garden for while.  I dare you!

Jennifer and her family are building soil, growing food, and regenerating the land on Foot Forward Forest Farm on Quadra Island.  Follow their journey here.

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