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PO Box 3783, Courtenay, BC V9N 7P2 Email: Website: Telephone: -250-334-2375 N E W S L E T T E R AUGUST, 2012 DIRECTORS Susan Holvenstot Sam Austin Chair Treasurer

Alan Goodacre Recording Secretary John Blyth Membership Secretary Louisa Ditmars Ann Andrews Marilyn Hannah Director Director Director

The Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers are dedicated to both education and practical action in saving and growing out heritage and open pollinated varieties of food crops. These activities encourage all the residents of the Comox Valley to grow backyard gardens from locally adapted seeds using only natural methods. The seeds are carefully selected to grow vigorously in the local climate, for flavour and pest resistance. The CVGSS is opposed to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can negatively impact the growing medium, the crops and ultimately the health of the consumer. It also denies the usefulness of genetically altered seeds, which are creating problems for organic growers. Instead, CVGSS members work with natural cycles. Soil organisms are nurtured, and healthy, productive soil gives us the nutritious crops we need.

MONTHLY MEETINGS, 7-9 pm Creekside Commons 2202 Lambert Drive, Courtenay If you are travelling from Courtenay or Comox, travel along the Cumberland Road and turn left on Arden, then left on Morello following the road to the bottom of the hill. Parking is limited so please park on the side of the road.

Greetings to all Seed Savers. You are a special bunch, those looking ahead and learning to provide food, not only for themselves, but for future generations. The seeds we work with are magical packages of life, with all the genetic knowledge to produce a particular plant, when provided with the right conditions of moisture and soil. Most seeds are viable for at least 4-5 years, loosing only a bit of vigor in that time. Please consider saving some seeds for our Seed Exchange at Seedy Saturday next winter, if you don't already. Come to the Seed Saving demo at our upcoming monthly meeting, Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 Thur, Sept 6, 7 pm, at Creekside Commons, to get you started with Seed Saving Demo, and the easy ones. It's easy, fun, and life affirming. Seed Bank discussion PS, we need a couple volunteers to look after our refreshments, and the great handouts we have for the monthly meetings. Also a team Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 of about 3-4 people to plan and organize our garden tours each Putting your Garden to year. The directors look after all the unseen parts of the Seed Bed, and Making Savers, and need a bit more membership involvement. Thanks. Compost Tea


Enjoy the harvest season garden tour, Saturday, September 8th. Three quite different Merville gardens are featured in this 3.5 hour tour. See how really experienced gardeners do it: avoiding the bugs, feeding the poor, gravelly Merville soil and growing heritage food crops that are vigorous and beautiful. Each gardener will take time to explain what is unique about their garden. Meet at the Merville Store at 1 pm to carpool. Free for members and $5 donation for nonmembers. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Gardening can be a tricky pastime for those of us prone to a little control-freakishness. You may dream of uniform rows of veggies, similar in size, shape and vitality, perched atop crumbly black earth. Or maybe you have ideas of a more casual perfect garden- perhaps a water colour tangle of shapes and colors living in health and harmony. I think we all have a vision of our perfect garden. And when the slugs decimate your lettuce and weeds choke out the carrots, when your pea plants shrivel on the first scorcher summer day, you may find yourself feeling a smidgen of defeat. You may wonder why you can't just re-create that snapshot in your head. You may come to the conclusion that the obvious solution is more effort- you just need to try harder. As the summer wears on and then more summers pass by, as there are more defeats and more trying-harders, the fun and wonder of gardening can disappear. The art of non-attachment is not just a concept useful to yogis and Buddhists; it can be helpful to us in the garden. Basically, what we can try to let go of is the attachment to a specific outcome- the perfect garden. In doing so we can find more peace and enjoyment. Here are a few ideas I am finding helpful as I face the inevitable challenges of working with nature.

1. Feel it- When disaster strikes it

can be very helpful to let out your feelings. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to let go without this step. By all means, have a yelling fit and throw your garden tools, whatever helps. 2. See the lesson in every defeat- Because there definitely is one. 3. Try to see things from a new perspective- Weeds can be a living mulch, chopped back periodically to keep them under control. Slugs could be an

untapped food source, West Coast escargot. Who knows? 4. Focus on your successesGenerally, there are way more good things happening in the garden, but even if it's just your beautiful kale patch, take time to appreciate your efforts there 5. Talk to people who are enthusiastic- They'll help you with the perspective-changing. 6. Realize you have no control over nature- But you can control your efforts, your techniques and your attitude.



1. If the results were good this year, then lets do it again next year. 2. Monsanto and others are buying up seed companies, perhaps to patent seeds and to inject terminator genes or GMO problems. 3. I like to share and propagate great veggie production. This is a community builder. 4. As climate change proceeds, yearly seed saving will encourage new gene combinations suited to changed climate. 5. The cyclical seed-to-fruit-to-seed pattern gives participants a fuller view of what a plant is about. 6. There is constant need for learning about veggie growth. It feels good to learn. 7. The drought in the Great Plains area of the USA underlines our need to have local close control of food production. WE are the experts were looking for. 8. Seeds are nearly magic. It feels good to be around them.

Saving and sharing precious seeds is the heart of what we do. As the garden crops ripen and then set seeds, the time is right to choose the parent plants to gather from. Not that lettuce that bolted too early, or that parsley that tasted dry and tough, but the arugula that lasted far beyond expectations and the self-seeded dill that couldn't be stopped. How will you know when the seeds are ready? When the plants are "dry and crispy" says Nick Guthrie, my seed saving mentor. Keep an eye on those plants that are nearly at the seed saving stage, and cut the stalks when the seeds are ready to fall out of their pods or fly away on tiny parachutes. Sometimes you will need to wait weeks, as I did for the arugula, but it was worth it. The babies are already 15cm tall and ready to eat. However, if you cut the plant down too soon, the seeds may not be mature. I like to share my good seeds with friends and neighbours. Those heritage and open pollinated varieties deserve to spread throughout the community and beyond. If you have extra seeds, bring them to the monthly meetings, where they can be packed for sale at Seedy Saturday. Happy gardening

The Taste of Summer Dianne Goodacre Ah, the taste of summer. After weeks of anticipation, watching that first small green ball forming on the young plant, seeing it reach full size, and waiting patiently for it to change colour to a rich sunset red, your reward now hangs in front of you. As you reach in, brushing the mature vine, the clean unmistakable scent of the leaves is released. The fruit you hold in your hand contains the essence of sunshine. Warm and soft, it glows with health. The plant has given you this gift, the work of a season, with a specific goal in mind. For within, the fruit contains the secret of life, the seeds of promise for the future. The future is in your hands. The first time I saved some tomato seeds, it was under antiseptic conditions worthy of an operating room! Like a first-born, the care and attention those seeds received was only exceeded by my anxiety of doing something wrong. I followed the instructions as exactly as I could, all the while doubting the result. Over twenty years later, I can sympathize with new seed savers trying something for the first time. But I can reassure you, like your children, the seeds are meant to survive in spite of your mistakes! There are many sources of information that will describe a method of saving tomato seeds. Most involve fermenting the pulp gently squeezed from the fruit. It goes something like this: squirt the pulp into a clean jar, add water to half the height of the jar, put on the lid and shake. Keep the jar at room temperature, and give it a shake every day or so. In three or four days the pulp around the seed will have fermented. Open the jar (it will likely smell bad, and thats good) and pour off and discard most of the water, including anything that is floating. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom fairly quickly. Then refill the jar with water, shake, and pour off the excess water, three or four times, until the water is fairly clear. Scoop out the seeds, spread them out and let them dry on a piece of brown paper or an unbleached coffee filter. When completely dry, fold up the paper with the seeds inside. Make sure you write the date and the type of tomato on the outside so years from now you know what they are! A cool dry place is best for storing them, but my seeds over the years have been subject to freezing and heating out in the garage (in Edmonton) for a few years, and have still germinated at a high rate. Now heres the easy method, developed by accident in a pinch when I had two toddlers and no time for saving seeds! I was preparing a salad, picked fresh from the garden late in the fall, and was worried that would I never get around to saving any seeds that year. I quickly squirted the tomato pulp from a few sliced tomatoes onto an unbleached coffee filter. After smearing it around a little to spread out the seeds, I scribbled the date and type of tomato on the filter. A few days later (or maybe a week? My kitchen was pretty messy) I folded up the paper and put it in a cardboard box. I was planning to try to soak them off the paper and do the above fermentation procedure when I had more time. As you can imagine, the seeds were totally forgotten until the next spring! Of course they were glued solidly to the paper. But after soaking the filter for just a few minutes, the seeds came free, nice and clean. As I always soak tomato seeds before planting anyway, this worked just as well. I still save seeds from that particular variety of tomato, and it has been my favorite over twenty years. They have survived all the abuse I could throw at them, including not saving any for several years. They were a free sample from an elderly organic grower, a variety called Stupice. Our family and friends have been enjoying the taste of summer every since.


Yellow Jackets (Vespula Vulgaris) are wonderful to have around in early summer, because they relentlessly hunt down pests like caterpillars and flies. Adult yellow-jackets eat sweet foods like plant nectar and fruit while the meaty bugs of summer are chewed up for their larvae. The young in turn excrete a sugary food for their older sisters in a strange interdependency called trophallaxis. Once the colony has matured and there are few larvae, a change occurs in the yellow jacket's diet. Insert populations also dwindle, and the yellow jacket turns her attention to ripening fruit and other sugar laden delicacies. Because one worker quickly alerts her sisters when she finds food, us humans have had to move our Fall Fair from AUGUST TO SEPTEMBER IN ORDER TO AVOID BEING OVER RUN BY YELLOW JACKETS. CARE MUST ALSO BE TAKEN IN THE BLACKBERRY PATCH. IF A YELLOW JACKET FEEDING ON THE berries lands on you its best to stay perfectly still, often they will groom and then fly off. If you do get stung, a pea sized amount of wet baking soda or salt is a good remedy. In August or early September each colony of several hundred workers produces a sexual generation, with new queens and male drones. These young queens find a snug spot to spend the winter (like attic or woodpile) and emerge in the spring.

The spring is the dangerous time for a colony, since it all depends on the tiny spark of life carried by the young queen, who builds the first small paper nest and carries out all the tasks until the first workers are grown. Then the Queen retires to lay eggs while her children do all the foraging, defense and next building. In fall when the weather turns cold the old queen and the colony die, winnowing down a few hundred individuals to a few new queens. Wasp nests are constructed of several layers of comb made of tiny bits of wood fibre chewed into a paper-like pulp. Similar to hornet's nests they may be in the ground, in a building wall or attic. Another concern with yellow jackets is that they can pirate honey in the fall, causing stress and death in bee colonies already taxed by pollution and habitat loss. CTV News: They have been seen bringing in more than 225 flies an hour to a single nest; one study found that over a three day period, just two wasps collected 20 grams of imported cabbageworms.



Barbara Toombs (Plant Sale 2012 Coordinator) is heading a committee to create a new website that will be interactive, informational and cost efficient. We ask for plenty of input from fellow seed savers on the Members Only page, accessed with your individual username and password. Here you can give away or find gardening supplies you need. For example, if I need a load of horse manure, and you have extra, its a beautiful match. We can educate ourselves with an exchange of ideas on the Resources page. Updates will be easy and fast too, so all the information will be current. The site will be simple to navigate and have a calendar of events that can be located in seconds. There will be separate pages for Seedy Saturday and the Plant Sale. Best of all, the website costs can be offset with carefully selected ads from businesses of interest to members (for example Sea Soil) and community sponsorships. New memberships and donations will be easy through PayPal. Many thanks to Arthur Ralfs and others who have created and maintained the current website over the years. Your work will form the basis of all that the new website will show. Members are encouraged to share any photos, articles or ideas they may have for the updated website. Send your thoughts to Barbara at

We are revamping our website and looking to our members for help! We need the following designs by September 5th please.

1- We want to update our logo from hap

hazard size and design to one standard look. We need it in 72 and 300 dpi jpeg and eps formats greyscale you can copy it from the website at www.comoxvalleygrowers and 2- At one time it was in colour, possibly green, yellow and black, but let artistic license rule. save as 72 and 300 dpi jpeg and eps formates websafe colours 3- We need a banner for the website, possibly photo (s) reflecting our mission to save seeds for sustainable food supply on VI 4- Every good marketing scheme has a catchy slogan, CVGSS would like to add a phrase to our site such as Just Save It! you can think of a better one, reflecting our mission or purpose. 5- For our photo gallery on line we could use lots of local photos of plants, seeds, people in events CVGSS has participated in please format as a 72 bit jpeg and label them such as, Spring_Garden_Tour_ 2009 .jpeg The photos are ongoing as they come available and events throughout the year. It is a contest and for the prize we are offering three packets of seeds from our clubs collection, your choice for each of the designs updates and credits on the site: - Logo in greyscale - Logo coloured - Banner - Slogan Thats a whole garden of free seeds. For more information contact: 250-465-8131


I remember August every year as the hot, dry watering month, and mostly as the month of harvest. And this year is no different. My edible pod peas, and three kinds of beans (scarlet runner, Kentucky wonder, and purple peacock ), having being planted in succession three times over the spring/summer, are STILL and mightily producing, so harvest is the task. They are all from seeds I have been saving for the last 3-4 years so are well adapted to my garden. I still have a few bags of them in the freezer from last year, so I'm mostly trying to just eat them, and giving bags of them away to whomever passes by. The strawberries, thoroughly renewed last spring, with new compost, and freshly dug beds, were huge earlier, and now are setting their second crop. The raspberries and my struggling blueberry bushes have done their best; the last of the pounds of raspberries safely in the freezer. My three main tomato crops, all from seeds saved last year, ( Snow White cherry, Ironwood Orange, and Harold Macy's beefsteak ) are doing well, spiraling higher and higher in the greenhouse. They are setting fruit, and it looks like it will be an adequate harvest. The salad greens, my year round mainstay, are also mostly from my own seeds. Arugula, chard, mizuma, red orach (I love those 5' tall feathery seed heads that form as they mature), and several kales, are all providing more than I can eat or give away. I did buy some spinach and mache seed this summer, so the new seedlings are all getting ready for fall and winter harvest. I haven't been able to find any sprouting winter brocolli seed. Now that would be a good one for some of us Seed Savers to take on. And just so you don't think I am always successful, my several plantings of beets and carrots have not lived at all. Too bad, cause beets and beet greens are one of my favorites. I still have to learn their secrets. When I'm not harvesting, then Im watering. I love that early morning activity, moist and cool as the bees happily flit in the nasturtiums, lavender, hollyhocks and sweet peas that seem to take up more and more of my garden space each year. I guess that's what getting older does to my gardening: less food and more beauty.

The Mission Statement of the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers is: To conserve and preserve our local plant diversity by encouraging and supporting public participation in growing heritage and non-hybrid food crops and other plants.