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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 2

Low Stanger Seeds Trial - Final Update

Low Stanger Farm: Our seed trials are drawing to a close, although we are still harvesting the trial carrots, and have yet to harvest any of the sprouts. The tomatoes are almost over, unusually we have not yet had a killing frost. The chocolate cherry have proved to be a late producing tomato, and are still ripening. Personally, I find the colour, while delightfully chocolatey, a little offputting! However, it does have some merit as a late cropper.

21 October 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

Update from Skye Grove Organics

Skye Grove Organics: Tomatoes were grown in polytunnels, horse manure and comfrey and hand watered. Galina has proved to be a robust strong tomato with energy enough to support several leaders, I have trained up to 3 or 4 leaders off each plant.

30 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Low Stanger Seed Trials September Update

Low Stanger Farm: The carrot trial has shown a clear ‘winner’ in the St Valery variety (Mole’s Seeds). They germinated well and have grown strongly all season. We never thin carrots, so the bunches are of variable size, but they are of good marketable size, and also good colour and great carroty taste! The Amsterdam trial also showed good germination, but they have not grown anything like as strongly. They are almost side by side in the same field.

20 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

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 5

Trill Farm seed variety field lab update

Trill Farm: Parsnips - Varieties sown are Student, Imperial Crown, Hollow Crown and the control is Tender and True. On the first visit on 21 May the parsnips were only just beginning to show.

03 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 5

Low Stanger seed trial update

Low Stanger Farm: Reasonable growing conditions have continued through August, although a couple of cool, wet and windy weeks did hold back growth of marketable crops, while creating the usual late season rash of weed seed germination!

28 August 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Low Stanger Farm - August update

Low Stanger Farm: As for most of the UK, we have had good growing conditions throughout June and July - a little dry towards the middle of July perhaps. The sprouts have got away well, but possibly are not performing quite as strongly as the usual organic F1 varieties that we normally use.

14 August 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

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

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

Seed trials at Low Stanger - first report

Low Stanger Farm: We changed from being non-certified organic to certified organic when we moved to Low Stanger from our small but well established market garden seven years ago. One of the biggest difficulties we had, technically, was choosing suitable seeds from a now exclusively organic list – in the past we had used a range of organic and non-organic varieties, favouring proven old favourites like the broad bean Dreadnought, and the the carrot Danver’s Half Long.

13 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 0

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 2

Trill Farm seed field lab in leafy Devon

Trill Farm: My first visit was on Tuesday 21 May to record the progress of seed varieties, donated by various vegetable seed breeders. The trial is managed by Ashley and Kate Wheeler at Trill Farm near Axminster Devon. Ash and Kate are running their own business within a larger 300 acre organic farm on a level site of yellow clay loam incorporating several multi-span poly tunnels. Their main crops are salads intended to local restaurants and shops, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Café in Axminster.

31 May 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 6

First results from the Daylesford field labs

Daylesford Organic Farm: Daylesford are growing more than 20 varieties of heritage and open pollinated tomatoes as well as some more modern hybrids. There have been a number of sowings with different varieties featured in each, these will be available in the final report but this post will concentrate on the trial varieties.

30 May 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 0

Seed variety trials are off to a great start!

Tolhurst Organic Produce: The seed variety trials at Tolhurst Organic Produce are well under way and are looking great! Different varieties of Brussels sprouts, leek and tomatoes are being compared and tested on their suitability for organic production in the UK and seed-saving.

24 May 2013 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 4

First harvest

Tim Young: Sunday was a red-letter day for us and our allotment – our first harvest. With the gleeful help of the kids we filled an ice-cream tub full of broad bean pods, and a bowlful of lettuce leaves for lunch.

21 June 2011 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 32

Two dilemmas, one resolved...

Whitmuir the Organic Place: We’ve been looking for tomatoes for the salad and for the pearl barley risotto, and swithering between the Clyde Valley non-organic and the slightly cheaper organic ones from Gloucestershire.

20 June 2011 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

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