Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Heritage Seeds Arrived!

This is the package that greeted me in the mail yesterday. I recently joined the Seed Sanctuary sponsored by Salt Spring Seeds. Dan sent the seeds to me very quickly after I joined and they look wonderful. Of course I had to open each package and have a look at the varieties. The purple barley is amazing and I really hope to be able to create a market for this grain. First though, I have to successfully grow it out into enough seed to plant commercially.

We will start with these small seed packets. I will prepare individual places in either the kitchen garden or the corral garden. These seeds will be planted in short compact rows to enable pollination. I will thresh these grains by hand or in the threshing box and then save them for next year. From the one pack of Red Fife...I am guestimating that I should end up with somewhere around 3 or 4 pounds of grain? That 4 pounds will translate into perhaps a bushel, that bushel will produce 15 bushels, that 15 bushels will produce around 200. So you can see that within 4 years of initial seeding, I will hopefully have enough to plant in a field of some reasonable size.


  1. After reading an older book about wheat farming and details of the plant-row-bed-field method of developing a locally adapted variety of wheat, I have been meaning to try it myself. If I can find a few varieties that are suitable for my area, I plan to try it myself next year.

    Is there any concern about some cross-pollination between the different wheat varieties?

    How do you plan to manage the soil fertility? Is it preferable to have a lower fertility to 'stress' the plant and develop a variety that can handle lower fertility during the production phase? Or, is higher fertility and moisture desirable to produce a larger amount of seed?

  2. Wheat does not easily cross polinate. The spacing between rows or beds can be minimal...a foot or so would be more than sufficient.

    That is the benefit of these heritage breeds...they can do quite well on marginal land. I would rather grow out the seed on marginal/half decent land to see how it reacts and to grow a good seed base. Then I am less dependant upon optimum conditions on a commercial scale a few years down the road.

    Yes, more moisture and fertility will create more seed quickly but my Red Fife seed that grew in a sand lot during one of the worst drought years we've ever experienced will be a good drought-resistant variety. Whatever survived this year will be tough!