Welcome to the 2020
Ottawa Seed Library Newsletter
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Happy New Year!
All of us from the Ottawa Seed Library hope you enjoyed a festive holiday season! We took the month of December off to spend time with family, celebrate the holiday season and work on an activity to build the seed library inventory for the upcoming growing season. There was also a planning session in November of last year, keep reading the newsletter over the next few months as we role out a couple of news ideas we came up with to engage with you and build our community seed saving network.
I mentioned we all worked on an activity in the month of December and it was testing the seeds in our library to determine the viability of the seed stock. Each of us took 5 species of seed home and followed a simple method to determine viability. Continue reading to learn about the process.
Germination tests are the most important task any seed saver has to do to ensure their collection is of germination quality. Ideally we would germination test in the seed’s ideal warm, wet climate, but because this process is done in winter time we try to best mimic similar conditions for seeds.
Different seeds require different treatment. In most cases just using a paper soaked in water and with some seeds tucked away in a covered container like a petri dish to retain moisture would be sufficient for the seeds to germinate. However there are some seeds where it can be hard to mimic the ideal germination environment. For instance I did some penny squash seed germination tests and they failed to germinate with the method I mentioned above. Squash seeds have a thick hard shell and in normal sowing conditions the micro-organism in the soil will break the shell and allow the cotyledon to emerge, something absent in a petri dish. Thankfully, this type of germination can be mimicked in a couple of different ways. Some people carefully cut the corner of the squash seeds to let the water seep in and let the cotyledon emerge. Others soaked the seeds in water overnight to let the squash seed bulge and then tuck them away in a soaked paper towel to germinate.
Here at Ottawa Seed Library, we divided the different species of seeds within our steering committee and attempted to germinate the seeds using the method outline above. Each of us reported the percentage of successful germination by species and the amount of seed we have per species in grams. The Committee then decides what seed is still vigorous to germinate and ready to be packed for this year’s seed lending. Usually any seed with a germination rate of more than 85% is good to be sold commercially but for the library, we would be ok with up to 80% of the germination rate. This further helps us decide what stock we need to purchase to get us setup for this year's seed loan.
If you have any specific questions related to testing a specific variety of seeds, please don’t hesitate to message us. We would be happy to help give you some directions.
Help us prepare for the upcoming growing season!
The Ottawa Seed Library Team will be packaging the seeds on February 9th for our annual distribution later in the year and we could use your help. There are about 13 species to be packaged in small envelopes and the more hands we have the faster this process will go. This will take place at the Just Food Barn from 4-6pm. Please RSVP if you can join us for critical activity for the Seed Library. While you're there, you can sign out your seeds for this year and take them home with you.