This post is a little late coming …
On August 25th, 2010, the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) hosted a field trip to Greta’s Organic Gardens in Ottawa, Ontario. The visit was broken up into
- A little about Greta,
- A field walk,
- A tomato taste test,
- A peek inside Greta’s seed workshop, and
- A seed cleaning demonstration.
A Little Bit About Greta
Greta Kryger is a staple at most Seedy Saturdays and Sundays across Quebec and Ontario. Her seeds are also available through her on-line seed catalogue. Greta grows all her own tomato, pepper, eggplant, and melon seed in addition to as many other species as she can fit in to her gardens.
Greta’s Organic Gardens began as a market garden in 1991. She began saving seeds and selling at the Ottawa and Toronto Seedy Saturdays in 1992-1993. In the late nineties, she switched from market gardening to 100% seed production. Her production has been certified organic since 2003.
Greta has also been on the ECOSGN steering committee since its first meeting in March 2008.
The morning began with a walk across Greta’s fields.
A few cucurbit species on black geotextile (for weed control).
Some of Greta’s seed crops are also grown in tunnels. This adds heat and isolates plants from other pollen sources.
These guys make good use of any seed cleaning byproducts (i.e squash and tomato pulp).
Tomato Taste Test
Greta is known for her huge selection of tomatoes. With a couple of volunteers, Greta set up 30 or so sampling stations of different tomatoes.
Tasters rated each tomato from 1 to 5 on different aspects such as taste and appearance.
A Peek Into Greta’s Seed Workshop/Greenhouse
This greenhouse is Greta’s seed wonderland with an aquatic garden and heat loving plants.
The controlled climate let’s Greta collect seed from many plants that might not set much seed in our climate.
In one corner of the greenhouse, tomatoes are fermenting.
Tomato seeds are placed on screens (these are actually pepper seeds.)
Then stacked to dry.
Greta also brings seed crops into the greenhouse to dry out of the rain.
Some seed crops are hung in pillow cases to dry.
Seed Cleaning Demonstration
Greta uses a set of seed screens (also notice the colander collection in the upper left corner) to remove most of the chaff from her seeds. The final cleaning of most crops is done with this air column:
Dirty seeds go in the top right pipe. Lighter material (dirt, dust, chaff) is blown out the top of the long pipe. Heavier material (seeds and maybe stones) are collected from the bottom of the pipe.
The air column is powered by a bathroom fan with a dimmer switch.
(Compare this with Patrice Fortier’s air column.)
Thanks Greta for a great farm tour and a great farm lunch – the turkey meat balls were especially good!
ECOSGN is currently planning more great seedy events – more details soon …
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