Less than a week to go until Niagara Seedy Saturday and I am STILL cleaning seed and putting it in packets. As well as getting orders together and mailing them out.
Hope I'm ready for this event....which is designed to get us all in the mood for spring and gardening. It really will come. All of them, I mean. Seedy Saturday, spring and hence, the garden.
Been quite a winter. I heard it was going to be warm, not much snow, and heard it was going to be cold with lots of snow. It appears we got the latter. Which is actually good. Hopefully there will be a good winter kill of the nasty bug pests in the garden, and having a good covering of snow is good for everything.
Seedy Saturday is ready to roll. Let's hope we don't get a good hit of snow on Feb 12th. Or in Southern Ontario speak, a "blizzard". But it will go rain or shine, sleet or snow.
I think it is the best place in Niagara to come to pick up a good selection of heirloom and open pollinated seed at any time of the year. Seed vendors include The Cottage Gardener, Urban Harvest, Acorus Restoration and me, Tree and Twig. Other vendors are The Plant Lady, with her popular sea grass baskets, and John Renaud from Premier Hort, with his Myke soil amendments.
Folks will have access to the seed exchange table (which will be monitored this year), and are encouraged to bring as much seed to share as possible. If it is your own seed you have saved or excess seed from a packet you have purchased, the key is "open pollinated". This enables people who pick up your seed this year to grow it out and save some seed from it for next years Seedy Saturday. And because it is open pollinated it will come true to type.
A note about heirlooms. Heirlooms are all, by definition, open pollinated. But not all open pollinated seed is heirloom, despite the fact you can save its' seed and it grows out to be the same as the fruit (or veg) that you saved it from.
Heirlooms typically have a story, are saved in families and passed down from generation to generation, and are in the area of 50 or so years old.
Why are heirlooms important?
Yes, they are diverse, colourful and they may taste better. They may even be trendy. But that hasn't always been how people have thought. And as we were thinking about hybrids and convenience we allowed 90% of our vegetable varieties to disappear in the last hundred years. I find that loss of diversity shocking and very alarming. And just very sad.
By diving into the wonderful world of heirlooms many years ago, I have found some phenomenal heirloom vegetables I would never want to go without again. But what if we had access to that other 90%? Oh my.
An interesting example of what can happen is an experience I am having this year. Many years ago I ordered a bean from an extraordinary small seed business in the US. I have saved the seed for this bean since that time, and now offer it for sale in my seed listing. It is a great bean, I like it a lot...it is called Blue Ribbon. It is a nice romano type bean, with purple striping. Yummy.
This year the company I got the seed from originally isn't offering the seed. I am getting a lot of interest in it, as it seems I am the only one in North America offering it. Correct me if I am wrong.
If I didn't offer it...well, it wouldn't be out there circulating, and might just disappear. Forever.
You can see the importance of saving seed. Diversity in our food crops is essential for our survival. The Irish potato famine killed 1,000,000 people who depended on the potato to survive. When blight wiped out the potato crops, it was a tragedy.
Seed companies typically drop varieties that aren't best sellers, or have crop failures. Many varieties have disappeared because of just these reasons.
Ah, yes, I got sidetracked. But then not really. This is what Seedy Saturday is about- a celebration and sharing of open pollinated seed. An opportunity to learn from our speakers (see post from January 16th for speaker listing and times). A chance to meet people who are keen gardeners, beginning gardeners and just darn nice people who have similar interests.
You can talk to the knowledgeable people from The National Farmers Union, USC Canada, Steven Biggs, a noted garden authority (who will also be speaking), Community Care, St Catharines about their community gardening efforts, Seeds of Diversity and a number of master gardeners.
Our gardening club, Lettuce ,Turnip and Wine will be represented. Small, but a going concern, maybe it's time to join! (Free!)
There will be free coffee and treats (note to self- bake this week!), and the fine folks from peapod cuisine
will be serving a light lunch for purchase. If anyone cares to bring some baking along, be my guest!
If you have extra gardening books, magazines, cookbooks, clean pots, gardening tools or anything gardening related you'd like to find a new home for, bring them along. There's a garden give-away table too.
Donated door prizes will be given out throughout the day.
Cost of admission is a minimum $2.00 (or more) donation. This will help me pay for use of the facility, which is more than it was last year. And you will receive a small pack of seeds at the door. If there is any money left over, I will donate it all, every penny, to USC Canada as I did last year.
I hope to see everyone come out- it should be a really good day. And please, come on over and say hello!