Mentee Blog #2 – Sheila Dobie
When the August rains came – and they were very short lived. It was like a huge relief rather than a state of panic for my seeds. Intuitively I knew that the days of late summer edging into fall would give me many many warm dry days to mature the seed crops. As they have. I am blessed to live in a great climate for seed production – Grand Forks has a long history of such a role. ( Did you know that Grand Forks supplied much of the vegetable seed needed in North America over the second world war – when European sources were not available). All of my seed crops are safely tucked away – some less mature in a dry barn environment – but most well mature – and ready for cleaning.
My focus on beans this year proved to be a great choice- and two out of the three areas we used have given some great stock to work with. You may remember I had a seed supply from a dear friend who passed away last spring. She was an avid seed saver- and bequeathed much of the bean seeds we planted this year. Well, we also learned she was not great at labeling – as we seem to have several varieties, despite the bags all being labeled as red kidney beans. So I guess that is what you learn with seed trials- what you really have! I am happy to proceed next year with more understanding of what we are working with. From the three seedings of what I thought were the same bean we have what looks like a Mexican red bean – bush, a pole bean that looks like a small kidney (not sure yet), and a true lovely kidney bean that is bush and almost purple red in colour. I have found there are several websites out there for identifying beans! Which I will be doing in the winter – yes already making winter lists, when I will be finishing the bean seed cleaning.
We hosted a set of Field days in September – with Jon Alcock – my seed mentor from Sunshine Farm who came over from Kelowna to give us two afternoons of his time talking about seed saving, and giving us some insights on seed cleaning with our new equipment. We had one session in Grand Forks and another in Midway. Both sessions were very well attended and we got some great discussions going on the nitty gritty of saving seeds – at both the home garden level as well as at the larger scale. The community seed savers are thrilled with the new winnower, which I was able to purchase from Suzanne Miller in the Kootenays. This piece of equipment will be available as a tool share with our seed stewards along with a set of screens that have been graciously donated by Jon.
I think the best part of my seed experience this year – along with meeting Jon and getting a chance to work with him – is getting better equipped for seed cleaning. It feels like a quantum leap.