Citizen Seed Trial

Our Citizen Seed Trial (CST) is a free, public, science program that engages gardeners and passionate growers in the process of seed saving and breeding. Every spring since 2016, we carefully select, prepare, and deliver hundreds of packages containing varieties of vegetable seeds to people across BC.

Each year we choose different varieties to trial based on particular characteristics that our team has identified as being valuable for BC growers while ensuring varieties are suitable and engaging for home gardeners.

CST participants can request certain breeds during the sign-up process and are encouraged to provide feedback that can be analyzed by our team for continued research and development.

We collect data through SeedLinked. Seedlinked is an online platform that allows our team to track and analyze data from CST participants. Home gardeners and growers enter information about their seeds’ performance with guidance from us. The data is gathered and shared back with all participants and the wider plant breeding community through Seedlinked.

Whether it is on a balcony or in the garden, CST provides the public with an opportunity to not only engage with seed breeders but if they chose, to actively save and participate in local seed development. We offer detailed growing guidance, seed resources, and trial updates through our CST Facebook Group and regular newsletters, to encourage home gardeners in the quest to grow their plants. As a citizen science program, we expect real results from real people. We hope participants cultivate their passion for home gardening and help grow BC’s seed development community.

Tomatoes growing in a greenhouse.

Citizen Seed Trial 2021

Our 2021 trials are geared towards understanding regional adaptation, variety selection, and other aspects of plant breeding. Participants will test varieties of tomatoes, snow peas, and beets.

Tomatoes

This trial compares two similarly sized tomato’s that potentially have very different growth and production characteristics. We will be comparing for earliness, yield, and flavour as well as other characteristics.

The first variety is Stupice, a fairly well-known old heirloom tomato from Czechoslovakia and arose in 1955 from a cross made at the cultivator station in the community of Stupice (near Prague). This variety was grown on our Research and Education Seed Farm in 2020.

The second variety was an off type that came from an accidental cross of an Alpha and Aurora tomato. This came from Glorious Organics Co-op and was produced in 2018. This variety is early producing and potentially has good blight resistance.

Snow Peas

We will be trialling two vastly different snow pea varieties: Slocan and Beauregarde. The former heirloom variety was first grown in its namesake of Slocan, BC by Japanese Canadians interned in the region. These peas germinate and grow well even in the cold and provide yields over a long harvest window. Looking for a bit more colour? Beauregarde snow peas provide a pop of purple and are a great source of flavour for soups. This trial is a good fit for first-time CST participants and those interested in learning more about plant science.

Beets

We will be trialling two F2 Gold x Candy Striped breeding populations. The populations have the same parents but have been selected by two different individuals. As a biennial plant, saving beet seeds is a more advanced process because a grower will maintain this plant over two years before it produces a seed crop for harvest thereby extending the commitment.

Join our Citizen Seed Trial Facebook Group

Stay in the loop!

Missed a message? Please see below for our emails going out to all Citizen Seed growers this year.

We are happy to announce that seeds have been mailed and should be arriving at your doorsteps in the next little while. Here’s some information that will help you get started.

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Warmer weather is upon us, Hooray! Your tomato seedlings should be ready for transplanting soon, wait till night temperatures consistently stay above 7-10 °C. If you plant a bit early and notice low night temperatures, cover your plants with a piece of cloth or plastic to help protect them from the cold. If you haven’t already got your snow peas and beets in the ground, it’s time to get sowing!

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We hope that all of your trials are going well and that you have a garden full of healthy plants. Gardening has a plethora of benefits including increased self-esteem and improved health. Not only does it reap benefits to you, but your efforts are helping the planet too! Each one of your plants is helping sequester carbon from the atmosphere and produce oxygen for us to breathe. Let’s get into some of the histories of our plants so you can appreciate them even more.

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It’s a great time to do some taste evaluations. Compare your produce raw or cooked and feel free to check out these great snow pea and beet recipes. There are many characteristics to consider including the texture, sweetness, flavour, appearance, and skin toughness of your veggies. Have fun with the process!

Don’t forget to continue to add your data to SeedLinked. Be sure to be on the lookout for any disease and insect damage. Tomatoes should be ready soon, so be ready to rate for earliness and to enter your first harvest date.

In this month’s update, you’ll also find the germination rating from all the trials!

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