Well spring is here! It has come early to the mountains this year and the weather on the day was really spectacularly bright and warm.
Discussion ranged widely at this meeting but we started talking (it seems as usual…) about the crazy weather variations so far this year since our last meeting in June, including snow and minor heatwaves, and how plants in our gardens were responding to it.
We also talked for a while about pollination and seed set in Broad beans, squash and various other plants last growing season.
Being at the end of winter there was a reduced range of seed collected for the meeting but that is normal for this time of the year when most plants are just waking back up. There were a number of seedlings and cuttings for swapping including early tomato varieties and some great flowering plants.
We sorted and packed quite a few new seed packets on the day too.
On the agenda was also how the seed bank is being turned over and reorganised and cleaned up.
The seed bank/library is getting pretty big…
New and better reliable labelling is part of this. There has been some missing bits of important information on some of the older labels and things like the confusion of packing dates and harvesting dates etc.
With the new database system for cataloging we are now getting on top of the seed collection and working out what is being turned over and what is needed to fill gaps in the collection. We have a good new system for expiring older seeds that are getting near the end of their storage lifespan and we are working on a plan to start targeted replenishing of seeds that are getting low – this might be because they have sold or just not collected and stored in the seed bank.
Some examples of this are plants like Zucchini and related Squash and then plants like Rocket and other fast growing greens. These types of seeds tend to either be very fast ‘out the door’ when made available or people forget to collect or add to the library simply because they assume there will be plenty of them available or someone else will collect and store them. Some like Zucchini can also be a bit of a pain to collect due to their propensity for crossing and not staying ‘true’ to variety type and requiring a long growing period to get the full sized viable seed bearing fruit.
We will be working on a list of these vegetables for the future.
This discussion arose out of our desire to improve the sales options for the seed bank and make seeds available locally.
To this end we have started to make up some smaller display sales boxes to use for selling seed packets at other venues like local blue mountains stores and markets.
Carting around several large suitcases that make up the main seed library can be a little onerous and also makes it harder to track what is being taken or sold and to make sure we keep a minimum number of certain seeds of some important locally grown varieties.
So the idea is to have some smaller sales boxes to stock with a representative selection of seed that we can restock every few months with a suitable seasonal selection.
Another large part of this spring meeting was used to discuss what should be put into these types of sales boxes and to reassess the range in the seed library.
Here are some of our ‘hard-core’ seed saver regulars discussing options.
This is a significant part of where we want to go into the future – making more locally grown and collected seeds available to the local community in the Blue Mountains.
Growing locally collected seeds really does pay off – having someone else do the hard work of test growing the plants and seeing what works and what does not in this climate.
Here are two of the boxes so far. The smaller one for placement in a store sales area and the larger one for use at local markets.
There was also a quick discussion about the the new seedsavers growing plots we have been slowly developing at the Lawson Mid Mountains Community Gardens site. The plan is to develop several beds for growing interesting selected plants through their full life cycle in these plots.
This was planned quite a few years ago but the time has finally come and we have actually started the bed building process. The idea is to plant one bed out with vegetables that are a little more space consuming like pumpkins, squash, potatoes and various greens and root vegetables as it develops, and then another area with more perennial style herbs and flowers and also vegetables such as artichokes, Yacon etc.
Some of these can then be available for access as ‘cutting’ material – as many plants are easier to propagate as cuttings rather than seeds and as some varieties of plants do not tend to grow ‘true’ from seed.
Although the plots do not look very exciting yet – the really hard work has been done to site and lay out the beds for soil building. The plan is to eventually enclose them within the boundary fences when they are expanded out in a short while so that they become part of the larger community gardens space.
Let us know if you have any suggestions or ideas for what seeds need to be included in our seed collection as ‘standards’.
I would suggest maybe some items like:
- Zucchini & other summer Squash
- Carrots & related root vegetables
- Rocket & other leafy greens
- Parsley & other quick grow herbs
- Cabbage & broccoli
- Tomato (cold growing varieties)
- Snow peas
Anyway – good growing! and see you at the next seed savers Summer meeting on Dec 6 2015!