Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Friday, January 11, 2013

SeedZoo Seed Packets Arrived

I recently wrote about Richters new SeedZoo program aimed at keeping rare and endangered food plants growing via home gardeners.  I ordered three packets - Armenian giant black bean, Hutterite bean and monkeyface pepper.  The seeds are GMO free and heirloom so the goal is home gardeners will keep some of the seeds from their harvest, perhaps share a few with family and friends and in this way keep these rare plants in production.

My seeds arrived a couple of days ago.  I was very anxious as to checking the mailbox daily so the seeds would not be sitting in freezing conditions.  The seeds are $6 per packet plus shipping and handling with only 10 seeds each in the bean packets and 30 seeds in the pepper packet. According to the website, the plant varieties have rarely if ever been grown in North American gardens, although I do know the Hutterite bean has been grown in Canada.  There's no indication of germination rate or even success growing these plants in home gardens in North America.  Price combined with uncertainty is definitely a deterrent for this project and given the low number of seeds, there is very little room for error.

These seeds cannot be simply planted and hope for the best.  Well, they could but if unsuccessful not only has money been wasted, the opportunity to keep these rare and endangered food plants in our crop diversity has also been wasted.  I devised a plan to start one bean plant from each packet to grow indoors, leaving me nine seeds per packet for later.  Beans will grow indoors so all I need is to get the plants to maturity enough to produce one or two pods.  If they produce more then great.  I will harvest any of those pods for seed collection only.

I once had a rabbit destroy all my bean plants shortly after emerging and only about 3 - inches tall.  Now that was a tick-off but I was able to replant, protect the area and still have a crop.  We have at least one rabbit here so these bean plants will be protected as soon as they are planted outdoors.  I also need to be careful the monkeyface peppers are not close enough to my other peppers to prevent unwanted cross-pollination.  If these seeds prove viable in our little corner of Ontario, saving them for the next year's crop and sharing should not be a problem.


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