Citizen Seed Trial

Our Citizen Seed Trial (CST) is a 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 2022

Our 2022 trials are geared towards understanding variety selection, the differences between open pollinated and hybrid varieties, and to further your understanding of plant breeding. Participants will test varieties of cherry tomatoes, carrots, and bush beans.

Tomatoes

This year we will trial a selection of cherry tomatoes. We will compare the highly popular hybrid variety SunGold against the open pollinated varieties Soleil and Strawberry cherry. The Soleil cherry tomatoes are from our very own Research and Education Farm and the Strawberry cherry variety from Metchosin Farms, a local seed grower.

Bush Beans

We will be comparing the EZ Pick and Straight and Narrow varieties. These bush beans may look similar, but they actually have quite different growth patterns that we will observe. As bush beans are largely self pollinated, they make a great crop to try out your seed saving skills on. Both bean varieties were harvested last year at our Research and Education Seed Farm.

Carrots

Stay tuned for more information. This trial will likely be a comparison of a carrot breeding population. Join to learn more about biennial seed production and carrot plant breeding efforts within BC.

Register for the 2022 Citizen Seed Trial
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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We hope you are all enjoying fresh produce from your balconies and gardens. Tomato season is in full swing and we’ve been busy harvesting at our Research and Education Seed Farm. This year we are growing seven different varieties of tomatoes. We are saving seeds from four tomato varieties and donating the rest of the tomatoes to Food Stash Foundation as part of our Seed to Food program.

Learn about ways to process your bounty and more in this month’s update!

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Thank you for participating in our 2021 Citizen Seed Trial (CST). It would be very helpful for us if you would please fill out our survey linked below. It helps us build our programs and supports our funding.

If you haven’t already, now is a perfect time to complete your Seedlinked reviews. Complete your trial by November 20th to be entered to win a seed-related prize!

Click the link below for more, including past 2021 CST webinars!

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