Contemplating seeds

By Tom Read

"Growing season" has already begun for our garlic. Planted last November with cloves harvested in August, it's already about 3" above ground as of late January.

It’s another typical coastal winter day on Texada Island, overcast, 5 degrees Centigrade — but my thoughts are about the coming spring, summer and fall. Specifically, today we’re finally getting in our last seed orders for the coming growing season.

Of course, we are learning to grow open-pollinated food plants and save our own seed. For example, beets, arugula, coriander and kale are all on track for seed harvesting in our garden later this year, and naturally we save potato and garlic “seed” every year. One of our plans for 2010, however, is to start growing a lot more bee forage, so there’s a bevy of nectar-laden flowers joining our order list. We already purchase dwarf white clover seed by the pound for cover crop (and to feed bees); this year we’ll increase our plantings of borage while introducing phacelia, echium, lavender, thyme (creeping groundcover), sweet clover and anise hyssop.

The above list is a result of our reading beekeeping literature, both in print and online, while seeking a balance between different blooming times and the particular growing conditions on our land. With any luck, we’ll offer the bees a constant source of nectar from spring through fall. Our goal is to strengthen our surviving bee colony, perhaps leading to one or two more colonies this summer.

Turning from bees to humans, lately we’ve discovered the pleasures of eating quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”). It can be cooked like rice or ground into flour, and has both great taste and lots of vitamins and protein. To quote the West Coast Seeds catalogue:

“These plants look terrific in the garden and produce edible, nutritious grains that have been grown in the Americas for over 6,000 years. A distant relative of beets and spinach, the leaves of young quinoa plants are also edible.”

A friend here on Texada grew it successfully last year, so we’ll give it a try this year! Somehow, today doesn’t seem quite as gray when contemplating seeds and the sunny days to come.


1 Response to “Contemplating seeds”

  1. 1 David Parkinson January 30, 2010 at 09:57

    Good luck with the quinoa! You can also eat that as a green, did you know?

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