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Field lab: 2013 seed trials overview

Kate Collyns: It's official: seeds can be sexy, ok? As well as their various shapes, colours and textures, it's what they represent in terms of actual food and produce that catches the interest; not to mention what seeds represent when it comes to food sovereignty - owning the ability to reproduce food, not just the food itself. I took part in the Duchy Originals Field Lab seed trials in 2013 because I always like trying out new varieties; but also because it's becoming increasingly clear that specially bred hybrid seeds are becoming more unaffordable for smaller growers (although buying groups can help) and seed can't be saved from the resultant crop; while cheaper open-pollinated seeds may not be as well maintained as they should because there is no money in it.

19 February 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 5

Early leeks

Kate Collyns: I’ve been picking ‘baby’ or young/small leeks for a few weeks now, but this wet spell has meant that the number of baby leeks is decreasing as they all bulk up nicely. I’ve been trialling one or two new varieties: in the picture you can see from right to left: 1 row Axima; 1 row Zermatt; 1 row Long de Mézières; 2 rows Hannibal; 2 rows Bandit (next to the clover green manure).

23 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Tomatoes update

Kate Collyns: Since the tomatoes are really peaking now, it's interesting to compare how the trial varieties are performing. While it's been a good year for tomatoes (touch wood), and all varieties have been producing pretty well, I've tried out some varieties that I'll not grow again next year, and found some new ones that I will. Here are some thoughts so far...

04 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

Carrot trial update

Kate Collyns: Early results from the carrots trial: and basically you can see that St Valery looks very good when compared to the other trial and control varieties.

21 August 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

Tomato update

Kate Collyns: ...and we have a winner in the First To Fruit Stakes: Stupice! These plants started showing ripe red fruit on Monday, and have given a kilo or so of medium round tomatoes since then; closely followed by one lone ripe Gardener's Delight tomato today (Friday), then Tigerella and Golden Queen, Galina & Jen's Tangerine. The Stupice plants did look particularly stressed confined in their pots before planting out though, so it will be interesting to see if their early fruits come at the expense of total yield.

26 July 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

Leek trial update

Kate Collyns: Hurrah, I managed to dig up all my leeks from the polytunnel and transplant them outside last Thursday and Friday. There were nine rows of leeks altogether, each row about 15m long: 3 x Bandit, 3 x Hannibal, 1 x Axima, 1 x Zermatt, and 1 x trial variety Long de Mézières. The size of the transplants varied slightly, as was the number of plants per row.

08 July 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

Trial tomatoes and leeks update

Kate Collyns: So I've finally remembered to note down how many of each trial variety of tomato I planted at the beginning of the month. Jens Tangerine: 13 plants. Galina: 15 plants. Stupice: 15 plants. Chocolate cherry: 2 plants. Then the following from my usual varieties, to compare to the trialists: Tigerella: 27 plants (the best germination). Gardener's Delight: 7 plants (I already have a lot of these already growing outside the trial). Golden Queen: 15 plants. Black Cherry: 6 plants. Overall, the number of plants put in reflects the level of germination, other than as mentioned above. So Chocolate Cherry's germination was not great.

14 June 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 1

Trial tomato update

Kate Collyns: I finally planted out the trial tomatoes last weekend (quite late I know, partly caused by broken rotovator - don't ask); and they've been settling in this week in the lovely sun. The Stupice tomatoes look the most cross at the moment, probably because they were the most advanced; their leaves were turning yellow, and they'd started to flower in their pots. This could be because they are an earlier tomato, so had got a head start over the other.

07 June 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 1

Starting seed trials at Grown Green

Kate Collyns: As organic growers, we're usually excited and keen to try new things; and trialling seed varieties seems an especially useful and productive thing to do at the moment, given the hoo-ha recently over the EU's proposals to ban all non-registered seed varieties. Plus although I've only been growing here at Grown Green @ Hartley Farm for a couple of years (before that I was an apprentice at Purton House Organics), I've found myself sticking to some tried and tested varieties. Well, you would, wouldn't you? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

03 June 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 3

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