Find below our yearly gardening letter. Wishing you all the best this growing season!
The 2018 growing season started off rather dry, and late summer and fall was too wet and cool! I (Rachelle) once again attempted to be slightly less ambitious in how many different things I grew this season, as there are still many foundational building blocks we are working on to allow for life and our farm operation to run more smoothly.
Nature decided against a few of my experiments in the spring already. I endeavoured to grow peanuts and rice from seed in the greenhouse, however some mice decided that I would not go there this year! They dug up and ate all my peanuts (~40) and turned the soil in all the rice flats so that the tiny seedlings were uprooted and had died by the time I found them. I will try again this year!
We grew a beautiful crop of Gete-Okosomin squash, an exceedingly large fruit (2-3ft in length, ~15-20lbs/fruit), with thick, tasty, bright orange flesh. Despite the hail damage in late July, the plants perked up again, and the fruits simply healed over their wounds, finishing the season beautifully. We had a lovely crop of Rouge vif d’Etampes pumpkins, Farnorth melons, Northern Pickling cucumbers, and the delicious, smooth-fruited 1805 Smoothies cucumbers. And that Taiwan Leaf Quinoa which I tried to grow for seed the last two seasons but unsuccessfully (so I had thought), volunteered in my garden this year! Again, we like to try to be in control, but really, plants, animals, and the forces of nature are doing their own thing.
The grains continue to be a joy to grow and really seem to bounce back from whatever weather comes. We collaborated with a seed customer this year who is an engineer. He was interested in building a small-scale seed cleaner that uses a shop vac as the aspirator. We have seen other small seed companies use these before, built from the Open Source design online http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedcleaner.html, and have always wanted to try one. We were happy to work with him to provide a wide variety of seed samples that needed cleaning in order to see how the device could be fine-tuned. We ended up with a simple device that will alleviate much of our challenges and frustrations with cleaning seed! I feel very encouraged by tools and collaborations like this. We are incredibly grateful to him for the partnership we undertook to access this wonderful tool.
I did a trial of all our watermelon varieties in the hottest garden to compare different aspects of them. However, it was a poor year for watermelon so didn’t get the results I was hoping for. The corn in this same garden (Cascade Ruby-Gold) also didn’t quite mature as well as I had hoped, but we still managed to get a decent harvest from it! We just didn’t have the late summer heat and dry fall needed for good seed production.
The cool, wet fall affected the quantity and quality of the bean seed harvest from Largo Farm. Harvesting and threshing the seed in cool wet weather was a challenge. Many pods were not yet mature due to the cool fall. We also had one hard hail storm in late July that damaged some gardens quite a bit but not to the point of destruction, it’s amazing to see how plants can bounce back!
Moving the seed collection from Humboldt back to the Cochin farm went quite well; processing orders in two places was not as awkward as feared. All the vegetable crops are at the Cochin farm with me, while the flowers, grains and seed crops are in Humboldt. This division has made this project much more manageable for both of us. Many orders just want grains, while others just want vegetables. When orders want both, we coordinate to mail everything in one parcel when possible. This division of labour allows for better management of inventory.
We are happy to partner with others who would like to contribute to the maintenance, documentation, and distribution of this seed collection. Rowan, a young neighbour and friend, has been incredibly helpful to us with stamping envelopes, packaging seed, helping process seeds, and more. Meghan is also a great example of this. She is an enthusiastic friend who is a wonderful photographer and is keen to help photograph our seed collection. She is currently working steadily at uploading hundreds of photos (ours from the last 5 years, and hers from the last two years) to the website this month. In the next couple years most seed varieties in our catalogue will be illustrated with photos on the website!
We have increased our packet price this year, given that the last price increase was 2013. We strive to serve you as best we can and we are working to improve your purchasing experience. Hence, we are now accepting e-transfer payments and email orders.
There are so many dedicated seed savers who are all part of the intricate network of people and communities working to grow our seed resilience. We are so happy to be a part of these efforts here in Saskatchewan and we thank you for your support. Without you, we would not be able to continue this work as our livelihood.
We continue to garden without agricultural chemicals and always will. The same goes for Largo Farm. In addition to Largo Farm, a few small growers provide us with some seed, and we are always ready to talk to fellow gardeners who would like to help steward this collection.
All of our seeds are untreated and open-pollinated. Some items have been sourced from commercial suppliers (~4%), which means they may have been grown using agricultural chemicals. We have indicated this by placing a (C) (for commercial seed) after the variety name.
Thanks to my amazing partner Russell and our wonderful neighbours (Judy, Tom, Johnny, Betty, Janice, Shawn, Christopher, Rowan, Robin, Sonny, Donna, and more) who are an immense support in many ways. To all those who have helped with our work in any way throughout the year, thanks for your support and encouragement! And especially, to my wonderful parents Jim and Marie-Louise, who give a lot to make this whole project possible. All the best to you in the 2019 growing season!
SEED EVENTS SCHEDULE FOR 2019
This year we plan to attend 12 events in Saskatchewan, Alberta, & Manitoba:
Winnipeg Saturday, February 9th, 2019
Yorkton Saturday, February 23rd, AND Prince Albert Sunday, February 24th, 2019
Lanigan Thursday, February 28th, 2019
Regina Saturday, March 2nd, AND Moose Jaw Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
Saskatoon Saturday, March 9th AND Indian Head Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Calgary Saturday, March 16th, AND Edmonton Sunday, March 17th, 2019
N. Battleford Saturday, March 23rd, AND Meadow Lake Sunday, March 24th, 2019
See our events page for more details!
Looking forward to serving you,
Rachelle (and Jim)
2018 Letter from the Garden
2017 Letter from the Garden
2016 Letter from the Garden
2015 Letter from the Garden
2014 Letter from the Garden