A Reflection on the 2022 Season at our Research and Education Seed Farm

Posted on Tuesday, 6 December 2022 under Stories

As with every year of farming, the 2022 season has taught us a lot.

Cool and wet weather in the spring delayed us, along with many other farmers who were unable to work the soil for fear of compaction in the wet conditions. In July, conditions changed, and farmers were hit with a couple of months of heat and drought. Thankfully the soil at our Research and Education Seed Farm is heavy with loam and silt. Coupled with our drip irrigation, we could keep up with watering our crops throughout the summer.

Some seed crops withstand rain better than others. Seeds in the Chicory family, like radicchio, frisée, and endive have tightly packed seeds that can handle rain, while lettuce seed does not tolerate being rained on.

As several of our crops were delayed in planting, we were not confident the seeds would have enough time to dry out in the fall. The season, however, stayed relatively dry throughout September, October was unseasonably dry and hot, and we had a great seed harvest.

Like any big seed harvest season, we have been busy cleaning our seeds this fall. One of the crops we have been cleaning is beans. Since beans are self-pollinated plants, they have a short suggested isolation distance of 15 feet. This meant we could grow three varieties on our farm (check out Seed Savers Exchange’s Seed Saving Chart). We grew EZ Pick, Straight & Narrow, and Comtesse de Chambord varieties. The EZ Pick and Straight & Narrow varieties were tested in our 2022 Citizen Seed Trial.

As a dry-seeded crop, we have been cleaning these seeds by first threshing, which involves breaking up the pods from the beans, then winnowing, where we use airflow to blow away the pods from the seeds. Other dry-seeded crops we have cleaned this year include radicchio, rutabaga, broccoli, celosia, sunflower, mustard greens, arugula, onion, and more!

We have also cleaned the seeds of many wet-seeded crops, including tomato, pepper, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, and squash. Recently we cleaned our Costata Romanesco zucchini and North Georgia Candy Roaster squash using a shop vacuum. We took the filter out of the shop vacuum, cut the zucchini and squash in half then sucked out all the seeds. Afterwards, we cleaned any plant remnants using water. We found this method much quicker than scooping the seeds with a spoon.

If you are interested in acquiring some of the seeds we grew, and other seeds grown locally in BC, you can find them for sale at the BC Eco Seed Co-op.

We would like to thank our funders, the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, BC Gaming, Vancouver Foundation, and Seed Change for supporting our Research and Education Seed Farm.