Encouraging home gardening and seed saving since 1986

Letter from the 2013 Garden

Find below our yearly gardening update on our previous growing season. All the best to you this growing season!

Dear Fellow-Gardeners,

Cool wet springs seem to be the rule here now. In 2013 summer didn’t begin until August but then we had nearly 3 months of it. The pea seed crop was quite good but we had quite a bit of deer damage. We had a wonderful crop of beets and carrots so we are looking forward to a good seed crop next year as these crops are biennial. We had a good lettuce seed harvest and also lots to eat but we have to get in the habit of seeding a crop every 10 days or so. The tomatoes did well, both indoors and out, with no late blight damage. See some new tall cultivars, with interesting colours, flavours, sizes and shapes in our tomato section. We ate all the fresh beans we wanted and had a bumper seed crop. Most of the vine crops did well but, even though the melons were very productive, they ripened badly.

In our grain patch we grew a selection of 29 cereals from our collection, including 15 samples of einkorn wheat. They all did well and we will be continuing these trials next year to try and identify which einkorns grow best here. Many people appear to have health problems related to consumption of modern wheats so we are going back to einkorn, the first domesticated wheat from about 10,000 years ago.

Judy (sister/aunt) Ternier, grew much of the seed on the Cochin farm again this year. Rachelle and Jim gardened at the Abbey all summer producing seed and a bountiful harvest of food. If you ever come to experience the hospitality of St. Peter’s Abbey you will be eating some of the fruits of our labour. A special thanks to the WWOOFer volunteers who came to work with us this past summer.

Frank Morton, of Wild Garden Seeds, is doing wonderful work in Oregon breeding and selecting seed, mostly for leaf crops. He emphasizes organic growing and he breeds for taste and disease resistance. He promotes biodiversity and offers a wide range of colours and forms, often in mixes. See our lettuce section as well as other leaf crops and a few root crops.

We are always interested in the history of seeds so we indicate a date of introduction for many varieties, and something of their origins whenever we can. We also note All American Selections (AAS) awards. Each year since 1933 seed breeders and companies have been submitting new varieties to be tested by seed companies and academic and research institutions all over North America. Those which appear to be a significant improvement over previous varieties are given an AAS award.

We continue to garden without agricultural chemicals. A number of friends and relatives, and small growers, are providing us with some seed, and we are always ready to talk to new growers.  A few of our seeds are from commercial sources. These commercial seeds are all open-pollinated and none of the seeds are treated, but they may have been grown using agricultural chemicals. We have indicated this by placing a C (for commercial seed) after the variety name. 

PLEASE NOTE: During the peak season (February-May) it will probably take six weeks to process an order. We encourage you to group orders whenever you can. On orders sent in one package to one address there is only one handling charge, and there is a 10% discount on orders over $100. We hope you will forgive us if we occasionally group orders when it seems appropriate. If you are dissatisfied with any of our seeds we will replace them, refund you your money or give you a credit.

If anyone is interested in older varieties or ones not readily available commercially, we invite them to become members of Seeds of Diversity Canada (SoDC, formerly known as Heritage Seed Program), Box 36, Station Q, Toronto, ON, M4T 2L7. One of the activities promoted by SoDC is Seedy Saturdays (and Sundays), held in various locations throughout Canada in the winter and early spring. Each one is a day of buying, selling and swapping seeds as well as talks, displays and other educational events. We attend events every year in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Please check our events page for more details about the Seedy Saturday/Sunday events we attend. We would be happy to meet any customers who come to these events, and will bring seed orders with us. See a listing of all Seedy Saturday/Sunday events throughout Canada here.

SoDC offers a 60-page booklet entitled How to Save Your Own Seeds and La conservation des semences. It is available through their website.

A NOTE ABOUT THE SEEDS OFFERED IN OUR CATALOGUE:

All seeds are open pollinated,

untreated and not genetically engineered.

All seeds are grown without agricultural chemicals

except those marked (C) (commercial seed).

Prairie Garden Seeds has added their voice with others on the Safe Seed Pledge (put together by the Council for Responsible Genetics). The SAFE SEED INITIATIVE has joined with a number of seed companies to create the Safe Seed Pledge which states:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants.

The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

We try to thank each person who sends us seed samples and used stamps (yes, Jim collects stamps as well as seeds!), but in case we forgot: THANK YOU. Every year a few new seeds find their way into our seed catalogue, many of which have been gifts from you who are reading this.

A big thank you is due to Betty Ternier Daniels and Judy Ternier (Jim’s sisters). They have been very generous in providing seeds for the catalogue from their gardens. As we already mentioned, Judy grows a lot of the seeds found in this listing. A final thank you goes to Marie-Louise (wife/mom) for all the work she has done and for supporting and loving the farmer for the past 34 years.

Do you have seeds you would like to trade, or is there anything you would like us to offer in future years? If you do not see a seed you would like in our listing, ask and we might have a bit on hand. We are happy to have your comments on our seeds, or on any aspect of gardening on the prairies.

Sincerely,

Rachelle and Jim

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