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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

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

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

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 1

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

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

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