Seed Mentee Blog #2 – Arzeena Hamir
My goal this year was to push myself and grow seed in larger volume and also try to grow seed from crops I’d never saved before. I’m calling 2016 the year of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
On the good side, I was able to grow a large quantity of coriander seed, which ultimately made its way to our local gin distiller. I’d previously been able to sell them 13 lbs, no small feat. This year, we more than doubled that and made it to 30 lbs. We did this by growing the seed crop in one of our greenhouses. Growing under cover enabled us to ensure that the crop matured without risk of rain and we found the seed colour and size was really good. I had a row planted outside at the same time and it got rained on, was darker in colour, with a much smaller seed size. I’ll keep growing the coriander in the greenhouse from now on.
Other crops that grew well for me included Galina cherry tomato, yellow Capriglio pepper, Ching Chiang baby bok choi, Jester lettuce, Harris Model parsnip and a melon from Prince George. All but the parsnip & melon grew under cover. For me, growing seed in our greenhouses in the summer is ideal – they require less watering and the temperatures these days are getting so high that few other crops can tolerate the heat.
A new seed crop for me this year was radish. We grow a fair amount of Pink Beauty and I thought it would make economic sense to save the seed to help cut down our purchases. When I mentioned I was saving radish seed to my mentor, Mary Alice, she raised concerns about getting the seed to mature properly. Being that novice, I figured growing under plastic would solve that. What a mistake! This plant never stops flowering!!! I was barely able to get a cup of seed out of what I had planted and the bloody crop took up so much real estate in the greenhouse. Never again.
Mary Alice had also raised concern when she saw that I was saving kale seed in the greenhouse. “What out for aphids”, she remarked. I’d saved kale seed under plastic and hadn’t had any problems before. Ugh… they came with a vengeance this year. Huge, healthy plants were transformed into ugly grey masses, shedding aphid bits all around them.
Seeing Mary Alice’s place and having her come and visit me was a huge boost and I can’t thank her enough. Some really simple tips like seed saving onto paper plates to prevent the paper from sticking to the seeds to cutting off all the roots so that soil wouldn’t contaminate the clean seed. Thanks Mary Alice. The tips made a HUGE difference. And yes, I have dreams of building my own “sucky”. Hopefully sooner than later!