Nov 20 2013

Seed Saving 101


  • [important]Amaranth[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Amaranth is self fertile, but is occasionally wind pollinated.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Cut down and dry the seed heads when they start to drop a few seeds. When they are dry and brittle, thresh them and blow away the chaff, it’s tedious, but worth the effort. Whether you have leaf, grain or ornamental amaranth, you can eat the seeds and so can the birds if you leave some seed heads intact.
    • Seed Viability – 2 years.
    • Isolation Distance – 3km recommended, up to 30% wind pollination possible.
  • [important]Asparagus[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Perennial vegetable that produces seed in the second year, it is insect pollinated, but there are only a few varieties available, so cross-pollination is less of a worry than selecting a variety that produces female spears, as there are now hybrid crowns available that are all male.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – The female crowns produce small red berries, wait until the ferny foliage begins to droop in the fall, then collect the berries and soak them in cool water. After an hour squish the berries in your hands to separate the seeds from the pulp. Spread out the separated seeds to dry thoroughly, and store in a cool dry place. It takes 3- 4 years for a seed to sprout, grow and produce spears for harvest.
    • Special Instructions – There is little difference between wild asparagus and domesticated, so collecting wild seeds is perfectly acceptable.
    • Seed Viability – 3 years
    • Isolation Distance – Not a concern
  • [important]Beans[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Self pollinating. Bees will occasionally cross pollinate bean varieties but the flowers are self fertile and often self pollinate.
    • Time to harvest seeds – Bean seeds are ready to harvest about six weeks after the “green” beans are harvested. The seeds will rattle in the dry pods by then, pull up the entire plant on a dry afternoon and hang upside down for a week. Thresh the beans into a clean bucket or garbage can. Leave the beans on a screen to dry some more if you can bite a bean and leave a dent.
    • Seed Viability – Seeds kept in a cool dry place in a paper bag will keep for three years.
    • Special Instructions – Beans occasionally get a pest called the bean weevil, if you see any holes drilled in the bean seed jacket, dispose of the damaged beans in the garbage, and freeze all remaining beans for up to one week in a sealed container.
    • Isolation Distance – Bush Beans and Pole beans 50m, except Scarlet Runner 800m.
  • [important]Beets[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Beet pollen travels long distances, and will readily cross with Swiss chard and other beets. Beets are biennial, and need to overwinter, in the Pacific Northwest a cloche will protect them from hard freezing, and also keep the seed pure when the seed stalk comes up in the second year.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Harvest the seed stalk when the seed balls turn brown (there are actually 5-6 seeds in each nugget). Hang the stalk upside down to dry for about a week, then strip the seed balls from the stalks and pour them from one container to another, facing away from the wind, to remove chaff.
    • Seed Viability – 4 years
    • Isolation Distance – 3-8 km
  • [important]Broccoli[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Cross pollinated by insects. Will cross with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi also check the ingredients in Chinese greens mixes. Insects can carry pollen for miles, so it is recommended that you only allow one member of the cabbage family to go to seed each year.
    • Time to harvest seeds – Wait till most of the seed pods are dry, plump and brown, cut the plant down and hang it upside down to dry for about a week. Put the whole plant in a paper bag and roll it gently with a rolling pin, pour the seeds and chaff onto a screen, and winnow out the seeds onto newspaper. Fold the newspaper along the crease and pour seeds into a sealed container.
    • Special Instructions – Most varieties of broccoli are F1 Hybrids, look for heritage varieties like Italian overwintering.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years, and they produce thousands per plant.
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6km except arugula, 800m
  • [important]Cabbage[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Cabbage is a biennial that will crack open in the second year and send up a stalk, children find this very entertaining, and will believe you if you tell them the cabbage exploded. Cabbage will cross with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and cauliflower. Separate these by at least 200 ft. Better yet, set up a four year seed rotation. It is necessary to overwinter at least three plants to insure pollination. A cloche of remay cloth protects and isolates cabbages quite well. Time to Harvest: Collect the seed when the seed pods turn yellow. Some seeds will scatter by themselves, but a plant produces thousands. I hang the stalks in a pillowcase to dry for a week, then beat the pillowcase and pass the seeds through a screen.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6 km
  • [important]Carrots[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Carrots are a biennial that will cross with the native weed Queen Anne’s Lace if it is blooming within 1000 ft. If you have to leave the Queen Anne’s Lace because it is a host plant for beneficial insects, isolate your carrots with a cloche.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – The flat seed heads turn brown in the early fall. It is a good idea to put a paper bag over the seed heads when the top seeds begin to turn colour, since the seeds scatter readily, and you can’t harvest them early if you want them to germinate. When the paper bags rattle with loose seeds, cut the stalks and hang to dry for a week, rub the seed heads on a screen, and save the seeds in a cool dry place.
    • Seed Viability – 3 years
    • Isolation Distance – must isolate with a cloche and hand pollinate.
  • [important]Chives[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Chives are bee pollinated perennials that will not cross with any onion or leek.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – When the flowers turn brown, and the shiny black seeds are visible, cut the flower stalks and leave them in a paper bag to dry for one week, just shaking the bag should remove most of the seeds. Pour from one container to another on a breezy day to remove chaff.
    • Seed Viability – 1-2 years
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6km
  • [important]Corn[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Corn is wind pollinated, and will cross pollinate with corn up to 3.2 km upwind.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Corn kernels are ready to harvest about a month after the tassels dry and the corn is ready to eat. Corn is susceptible to inbreeding, and also racoons. To avoid inbreeding harvest kernels from several different plants by peeling back the husks and tying the cobs together and hanging them for a few weeks. Rub the dry kernels off the cobs and store them in a paper bag. The only thing I’ve found that works on raccoons is an electric fence.
    • Seed Viability – 2 years.
    • Special Instructions – The sweeter the corn variety, the more susceptible the sown kernels are to rotting. If corn borers are a problem soak seeds in a strong tea made from butterfly weed or English ivy before planting.
    • Isolation Distance – 3.2 km, recommend Seed to Seed book for a good method of isolating corn ears with paper bags.
  • [important]Cucumber[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Easily pollinated by hand in the greenhouse or by insects outdoors. Each plant has both male and female flowers, the females are easy to recognize by the tiny green swelling at the base of the flower that will become the cucumber. Cucumbers need to be 200ft from other cucumbers, but can be safely planted with melons and squashes.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Harvest the cucumbers for seed about five weeks after they are ripe for eating. They are not damaged by light frost, and should have turned yellow. Scoop seed pulp into a jar and leave for several days to ferment, add water, pour off floating debris and spread out the seeds that sink on a paper towel to dry.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance – 800m, recommend bagging and hand pollinating, see CVGSS website, Demo Garden page for a how to.
  • [important]Kale[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Kale is in the cabbage family, it flowers in the second year and will cross with cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and cauliflower. Separate these by at least 1000 ft. Better yet, set up a four year seed rotation. It is necessary to overwinter at least three plants to ensure pollination, plants are not normally self fertile. A cloche of reemay cloth protects and isolates varieties for hand pollination. Time to Harvest: Collect the seed when the seed pods turn yellow. Dry the stalks and then crush them up with a rolling pin and a pillow case, or by feet. Separate the chaff and allow to dry well before storing.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6 km
  • [important]Leeks[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Leeks are bee pollinated biennials that don’t cross with onions or chives. Stagger leek varieties so they don’t bloom at the same time to prevent cross pollination. Leeks will also propagate asexually by bulblets around the base of the plant. Check for them in the second spring.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – When the seed heads turn brown and the black seeds are visible, cut the stalks and put them in a paper bag, after a week shake the bag, and winnow the chaff by pouring the seeds from one container to another on a breezy day.
    • Seed Viability – 3 years
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6km
  • [important]Lettuce[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Lettuce is self pollinating, but it may cross if grown side by side.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Lettuce bolts in hot weather, producing a tall pagoda shape in leaf lettuce, and by cracking an X in the top of head lettuce as the seed stalk emerges. Lettuce seed ripens over time and scatters everywhere, if you don’t mind shaking out the seeds a bit at a time this is fine, one lettuce can produce 30,000 seeds after all. If you’d rather collect them all together, tie a mesh bag or old pantyhose over your lettuce stalk. Remember, you want the seeds from the plant that bolted last, we don’t want to breed lettuce for speed.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance: 3-8m
  • [important]Onions (Allium Cepa)[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Onions are bee pollinated biennials that will cross with any other blooming onions within 100 ft. Onions won’t cross with leeks or chives. Although they have few enemies, they can’t handle competition with weeds, and need a light straw mulch for water conservation.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – In the second summer onions produce seed heads, when they turn brown and the black seeds start to appear, cut the whole stalk and put it in a paper bag to dry for a week, shake the bag and collect the seeds. Winnow the chaff by pouring the seeds from one container to another on a breezy day.
    • Seed Viability – 1-2 years
    • Special Instructions – Sweet onions are not good keepers, plan to overwinter these in the ground and ensure dry soil (raised bed is ideal).
    • Isolation Distance – 1.6 km
  • [important]Parsnip[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – This biennial doesn’t cross with carrots or Queen Anne’s Lace. Insect pollination is most common, with some self fertilization between different ages of umbels on the same plant.
    • Method of Harvest-  Collect the umbels when they are mature, often only a few are brown and dry at a time.
    • Seed Viability: 2 years.
  • [important]Peas[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Peas self pollinate, bees will occasionally cross pollinate plants closer than 15 ft apart. Planting a tall barrier crop such as sunflowers can help prevent this, as does planting different varieties, like sugar peas near snap peas, instead of two types of snap peas.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – About a month after the eating peas are ready the seed peas have dried and are rattling in the pods. Pull up the whole plant on a dry afternoon and hang it for a couple weeks. Strip the peas out of the pods, or thresh them in a wool blanket, the chaff should stick to the blanket, and the peas should roll down.
    • Seed Viability – 3 years
    • Isolation Distance – 100m if possible, at least 15 recommended.
  • [important]Peppers[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Pepper flowers contain both male and female parts and pollinate themselves. If you can grow peppers outdoors, it is best to keep different varieties 50 ft apart to prevent bees from cross pollinating them. In the greenhouse gently shake the flowers to pollinate them.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Wait until the pepper is overripe and the skin starts to pucker. Cut open the pepper, and leave the seeds on paper to dry for a week or two without washing them.
    • Seed Viability – About 2 years
    • Isolation Distance – 165m
  • [important]Radishes[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Radishes are pollinated by bees and will cross with radishes from your own and neighbouring yards. Only allow one radish variety to go to seed per year.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – When the seed pods turn brown and the seeds inside are plump and yellow it is time to collect the seeds. Pull up the whole plant and let it dry for a few weeks. Put the seed pods in a pillowcase and roll them lightly with a rolling pin. The seeds turn brown as they dry, save them in sealed containers.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance – 800m
  • [important]Spinach[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Spinach is wind pollinated. To further complicate matters, most spinach bears male and female flowers on separate plants so isolating a single plant amounts to birth control. The best way around this is to grow a monoecious variety (both male and female) and bag it when the flowers appear, or to put reemay cloth over your spinach row and shake them gently when the tiny flowers appear.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – When the spinach leaves turn yellow strip of the seeds with your hands and dry them thoroughly on paper before storing them in a sealed container in a cool dry place.
    • Special instructions – Perpetual spinach is not related to spinach (spinacia oleracea) and will not cross pollinate.
    • Seed Viability – 5 years
    • Isolation Distance – 8km
  • [important]Squash (Cucurbita family)[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Squash is insect pollinated, so squash should be bagged and hand pollinated then tagged with yarn to insure pure seed. Note that squash from different families can be grown together, like Maxima pumpkins and Pepo summer squash. Compare family names to be sure your squash won’t cross pollinate.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Allow squash vines to die back before harvesting squash for seed, you can keep the squash for months before eating if you keep unmarred ones and wipe them with a damp cloth. To harvest seeds, rinse seed pulp in cold water, squishing it in your hands so that pulp and flat, non-viable seeds float up, collect the large plump seeds at the bottom and spread them out on paper to dry completely.
    • Seed Viability – 4 years
    • Isolation Distance – 800 m
  • [important]Tomatoes[/important]

    • Method of Pollination – Tomatoes have flowers with both male and female parts, so they are usually self-pollinating, bees may cross pollinate varieties less than 10 ft apart.
    • Time to Harvest Seeds – Wait until fruit is over ripe before picking, a thumb pressed into the fruit will leave a dent. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and put them in a jar to ferment. After several days add water and pour off floating debris. Sinking seeds can be spread on paper towel and dried completely.
    • Seed Viability – 4 years.
    • Isolation Distance – Self fertile

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Jan 13 2013

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Please enter your e-mail address if you would like to become a member and to sign up for receiving a regular monthly newsletter Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 06 2012

Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers Monthly Meetings


Monthly Meetings are scheduled for every first Thursday of the month.

  • Time: Starting at 7 pm, and held at Creekside Commons, 2202 Lambert, Courtenay.
  • [notice]New directions!  To reach Creekside Commons from Courtenay, take Cumberland Road, turn left onto 20th Street, then the first right onto Lambert.  Follow to the end of Lambert and park on the street.[/notice]
  • Please watch for parking guides. Creekside Commons is a shoes-off sort of place, so bring slippers, and a mug. Or click here to view a Google map.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 10 2012

Seed Saving Information

Choosing Seeds to Save

Please let us know if you are growing seeds for the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers Society,
so that we may add your seeds to our data base.

Seed packaging bees‘ take place throughout the
winter. Also, please contact us if you have space in your plot to grow some of the Society’s special
seeds, and we will make arrangements to get them to you.



Seed Database Form Guide and Seed Saving Tips

In order to have outstanding vegetable and flower production, seeds need to be kept clean and free
from unwanted cross-pollination.

  • Seeds must be from open pollinated varieties and not a hybrid (F1), and preferably locally produced.
  • Seeds from other locations must have their locations identified.
  • Choose seeds from plants with good form and vigour, good taste and size, resistant to disease and for greens and herbs, slow to go to seed.
  • Reliable plants to collect seeds from are: spinach, lettuce, arugula and cilantro.
  • Peas, beans and tomato are self-pollinating and any fruit collected should be based on the overall plant and not just on the earliest fruit production, although this should be one of the criteria.
  • Label the early fruit for seed saving, not eating.
  • Collect seeds from plants such as leeks, parsnips and parsley the second year.
  • Collect the seeds in well labeled paper bags and ensure they are well dried before storing.
  • Refer to the book ‘How to Save Your Own Vegetable Seeds’, published by Seeds of Diversity, Canada, for details on requirements for plant spacing in the garden, and for clear seed saving guidelines. This book is available for purchase though the Comox Valley Growers &Seed Savers.
  • Please download and print the data sheet below to sort and itemize your seeds….

~ click here to view or download a seed data form ~

Seed Data Form Index

  • Garden Location – May include neighbourhood, mini geoclimatic zone, and/or street address.
  • Species – Refers to common species name (i.e. pole bean).
  • Variety- Refers to: common variety name (e.g. Blue Lake).
  • Isolation Distance – Distance to other plants of same species, or description of method of isolation to prevent unwanted crossing.
  • # Plants – Number of parent plants grown, necessary to insure genetic diversity and to prevent “bottle necking”.
  • Garden Location – Any other information from what was listed above.
  • History – Seed source, unique characteristics which may include: disease resistance, early vs late blooming, height, flower colour, or other history and interesting information.


Packaging Seeds Tables

Sep 10 2017

Monthly meeting October 5th 2017

Our monthly meetings are held on the 1st Thursday of the month at Creekside commons, Lambeth Drive Courtenay, at 7.00 pm.

This month we will start with a discussion from members on the pests, diseases and problems they have encoutered this year and their solutions.

This will be followed by our guest speaker, Derrick Pawlowski who will talk about the good and bad times he’s had in starting a new farm here in the Comox Valley. The name of his farm is Coastal Rainforest Farm.

Derrick Trained at UBC from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, with a focus on sustainable agriculture.

Aug 17 2017

September 2017 meeting

Our meeting  on the 7th September was well attended with our guest speaker Arzeena Hammir.

Arzeena says, “The Cooperative Movement in Italy is one of the strongest in the world, based primarily in the Bologna region.”
This past June, Arzeena Hamir was invited by VanCity Credit Union to join a tour of food and farming cooperatives in that area.
She visited small land sharing cooperatives of 3 members up to farmer cooperatives of 4000 family farms and brings back the lessons she learned from the trip.
It was thought provoking and the visuals of Italian food and vegetables were mouth watering.

Jun 23 2017

Volunteer appreciation BBQ

2016 BBQ small)

All those who have volunteered with the Seed Savers this past year are invited to a BBQ on August 13th at Innisfree Farm in Royston.

The BBQ will be from 4 till 7.00 so please mark your calendars.

There are trees for shade and a little pond to cool off in.

Nearer the time we will ask for your burger preferences etc.

You are invited to bring your children, partner or best friend but not your pets.

Innifree Farm is the home of Chancal and Thierry – for more details checkout their websiteand their Facebook page.

The address is 3636Trent Rd, off Royston Rd.

May 21 2017

AGM 2017

CV Growers and Seed Savers held their AGM on June 1st  2017.

A few people availed themselves of the offer to tour Creekside Commons before the meeting.

The old board was re-elected and two new members, Lynda Smith and Peter Polson agreed to join the team.

Our speaker at this meeting was Dan Jason. Dan  lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, where he founded the mail-order seed company Salt Spring Seeds. He has written many bestselling books about growing and preparing food sustainably, including most recently The Power of Pulses.

Dan Jason

Dan Jason

May 05 2017

Books and links for seed savers


Seed to Seed – Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners – Suzanne Ashworth

Saving Seeds As if Our Lives Depended On It – Dan Jason

Organic Seed Grower – John Navazio

Organic Seed Production and Saving The Wisdom of Plant Heritage – Bryan Connolly

The Complete Guide to Seed Saving – Cheryl Moore-Gough & Robert Gough

The Manual of Seed Saving – Andrea Heistinger

The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food – Janisse Ray

Other Resources

Annapolis Valley Heritage Seeds
A budding Nova Scotian company selling hand grown, open-pollinated, non-genetically modified seeds.

Avant-Gardening: Creative Organic Gardening
YOU CAN GROW! Information about Sustainable Organic Gardening and Personal Growth, Soil Building, Composting, Biodiversity and Genetic Engineering, Seed Starting Guide, Companion and Intensive Planting, Organic Pest Control, Garden Design, Permaculture, Xeriscape, Workshops, Newsletter Archives, Virtual Photo Tours, Resources and more!

Foraging With the “Wildman
Learn about edible and medicinal wild vegetables, herbs, greens, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms with NYC’s favorite naturalist, “Wildman” Steve Brill. Find out about his public Wild Food and Ecology tours in local parks, and the work he does with kids. Read excerpts from his books, enjoy his botanical artwork and vegetarian recipes, and find out what happened after he was arrested and handcuffed by undercover NYC park rangers for eating a dandelion in Central Park!

Gardening With Heirloom Seeds, by Lynn Coulter

Heirloom Vegetable Archive
An on-line collection of images and histories for almost 1000 garlic, pepper, and tomato varieties.

Helping Nature Heal
Organic Gardening, Eco-Landscape Design & Educational Services including Horticultural Therapy, workshops, outdoor classrooms & ezine.

Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds
Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds sells certified organic seed, to sprout at home, or for commercial sprouters.

Nanaimo Horticultural Society
Meeting for over 60 years, our Central Island Club has a wealth of information for gardeners on the west coast. Our monthly meetings include a Seed Exchange.

One United Resource Eco Village

Organic Farming Institute of BC
On-line and practical field training courses in Organic Farming.

Organic gardening
Visit the GardenZone to find out how to grow and use organic herbs. Comprehensive information on 160 different herbs, listed under both Common and Latin names, Learn how to grow, store and use them for medicine, cooking and decorative uses.

Organic Garden Info
Organic Gardening Information Helping You Grow Your Own Food.

Organic Volunteers

Permaculture Education
Get the best in permaculture education at Common Circle.

Saving Our Seeds
Promoting sustainable, ecological, organic vegetable seed production in the Mid-Atlantic and South.

Sunshine Farm
Certified Organic Seed Catalogue featuring especially rare and unusual varieties of vegetables and herbs. Check out our tomatoes!

USC Canada promotes vibrant family farms, strong rural communities, and healthy ecosystems around the world. With engaged Canadians and partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the organization supports programs, training, and policies that strengthen biodiversity, food sovereignty, and the rights of those at the heart of resilient food systems – women, indigenous peoples, and small-scale farmers.”

Mar 10 2017

April 6th and May 4th 2017 Monthly meetings

Our next meeting will be on 6th April at 7.00 pm.

Our topic is “how to grow the best tomatoes” with a few words from the experts and time for everyone to share their growing tips or questions.

Brown Berry Cherry Tomato

Brown Berry Cherry Tomato

Striped Cavern Stuffing Tomato

Striped Cavern Stuffing Tomato
















As usual, our meeting will be held at Creekside Commons. 2202 Lambert Drive. Courtenay.

Light refreshments will be served after the speaker.

On May 4, Catherine Reid will be bringing a worm bin to the meeting and will answer all your questions – even those you didn’t know you had – about vermicomposting.  Red wiggler worms simply love eating kitchen scraps, turning them into dark, sweet-smelling, microbial-rich fertilizer for your garden.

Membership can be renewed and membership cards picked up.

Any questions? Email us at

Mar 09 2017

Using the Winnower

Early in 2013, the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers  purchased a hand-powered seed winnower in order to make seed cleaning easier for its members and for local farmers.  A number of the Board Members had seen the winnower in action at a Seed Conference in Richmond November 2012 and were greatly impressed.

The Seed Winnower ‘lives” at Amara Farm in Merville. If you’re interested in using it, please email the seed savers at

 The CVGSS will be hosting some seed cleaning parties so keep checking back at the menu item ‘winnower posts’.


– The winnower is for the use and benefit of the CVGSS membership.

– It was purchased spring 2013 by Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers.

– This machine does not need to be plugged in or gassed-up, so it is not only environmentally friendly, but also QUIET.

– It is ordinarily kept and used at Amara Farm, home of Arzeena Hamir, in Merville.

– A “Qualified Operator” must operate, or be present and supervise the operation of the winnower.  These people are listed on the Qualified Operators List, kept with the winnower and shown below.

– The objective of the Qualified Operators List is that someone with experience in the operation and care of the winnower will be present to ensure it is used properly and to help get the best results possible given its design and capabilities.

– CVGSS members may contribute with an optional donation when using the winnower.

– CVGSS members that are cleaning seed for commercial purposes are to pay 15.00$/hour with a one hour minimum.  This is payable in cash or cheque to the Qualified Operator attending.  A receipt will be issued if desired.

– Non-members that would like to use the winnower are encouraged to join CVGSS (20$) and have access to this community resource.  The easiest way to do this is to email us at or attend a monthly meeting, normally the first thursday of the month at Creekside Commons, 2202 Lambert, Courtenay, 7pm.

– To be added to the Qualified Operators List a CVGSS  member must:
1. receive appropriate training from someone on the Qualified Operators List,
2. be accepted by the CVGSS board as a Qualified Operators,
3. fill-in and sign the Qualified Operators List to show acceptance of the terms of the Qualified Operators Agreement.

Qualified Operators (as of 2013-08-28)
–  Arzeena Hamir      250-702-5657
–  Moss Dance          250-337-8012
–  Larry Church          250-898-8408

See winnower article on page 5 of the CVGSS newsletter – August 2013

Jan 07 2017

Selecting and getting those seeds started.

From presentation by Arzeena Hamir.

Seed Catalogs – what to look for

The seed catalog companies do not grow their own seeds. They have their growers in many different places. This means that if you buy from a local company this does not mean that your seeds will be local. For this you need to buy from your local small farmers – Seedy Saturday is an excellent showcase for them and opportunity for all of us to get locally grown organic seeds.

Look for the “Non GOM pledge in the catalogs.

OP (open pollinated = can save the seeds)  F1 (Hybrid = cannot save the seeds; will not breed true)

Corn is nearly all hybrid and often genetically modified. Look for certified organic, from PEI or Europe.

What the labels don’t say  (read between the lines) eg Early tomato. produces before its hot, not so likely to get late blight but no mention of flavour. Tomatoes need the sun to bring out their full flavour.

eg Sweet pea, container variety, short plants, no tendrils, compact. What about smell? No mention No scent.

When they say self-sowing you could think “weed”. Those little blue forget-me-nots are self sowing.

Days to maturity. This could be when the seed is planted or when the seedling is put out into the garden.

A tomato that is 100 days is from when it is put out. Our season is too short.

Watch out for companies that treat the seeds with with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects  resulting in paralysis and death, killing our bees and other insects.

Starting seeds – 2 very distinct phases with completely opposite requirements.

Stage 1. Seed needs a growing medium, heat and water.

This medium could be 1. damp paper towel, kept moist under plastic. OR

2. a sterile potting mix made from 50% peat, 25% perlite, 25% compost/worm castings.

3. A ready made sterile potting mix eg Promix (miracle grow is not organic)

The heat should be bottom heat. This could be 1. a growing mat with thermostat,

2. a heating blanket with a space between mat and seed tray,

3. an special electric coil in the soil

Different seeds need different temperatures. Have to research the ones you are growing.

Keep them damp. Cover in plastic so that they don’t dry out.

Stage 2. As soon as the shoots appear they need 1. cooler temperature. Turn down to around 50 degrees F.

2.  light – lots of light.

You want to produce short stocky seedlings. Legginess + not enough light.Florescent light tubes labelled “Natural light” give a good spectrum. Or one tube cool and ane warm wavelengths.

The light bulbs should be less than 4 inches above the seedlings.

14 hours of light is minimum eg 6am to 8 pm.

3. Less water. The surface of the soil can feel dry. Water from the bottom. The weight of the tray can indicate when it needs water. When the top oif the soil is wet it is the ideal condition for fungus – the damping off fungus. This fungus lives on the surface of the soil. All the seedlings suddenly fall over. Throw them all out because of the fungus. Prevent – sprinkle with cinnamon, a natural fungicide. Can also use cool camomile tea or a 1/2inch layer of perlite on the soil, leaving no air for the fungus. Also very important – when you plant your seeds press the soil down around them to get rid of the air and they will be incontact with the soil and nutrients.

Young seedlings do not need a lot of water. Their root system is still very immature.

Nov 28 2016

2017 Vendor bios.

Get to know our vendors and visit them at Seedy Saturday.

1. Coastal Invasive Species

Rachelle McElroy
Be PlantWise! Coastal ISC will be featuring alternatives to common invasive plants for your garden and how to be PlantWise!
Commit to not buying invasive species and be a PlantWise ambassador. Learn about full subsidies* available for controlling Knotweed spp. and Giant Hogweed on your property in the Comox Valley.
Bring your burning invasive species questions for one of our staffto answer.

2. Full Circle Seeds.
Certified organic Vegetable, herb, flower and grain seeds grown on Vancouver Island and certified organic seed potatoes from Across the Creek

3. Ravensong Seeds / Fireweed Farm

jessy delleman
“Ravensong Seeds is a small seed business located on the Saanich Peninsula near Victoria BC Canada. We grow all of our seeds organically without the use of pesticides, chemicals, or GMOs. We specialize in medicinal herbs, with a selection of culinary herbs, veggies, garlic native plants, flowers, and enthnobotanicals. All of our varieties are also open-pollinated, which means they are true species from which you can save your own seeds in your home gardens.
Ravensong seeds are grown in our home farm location at Fireweed Farm & School ( in the village of Brentwood Bay. At Fireweed Farm you will find our main seed-saving and demonstration garden with a collection of over 200 different herb varieties, a small farm shop, and seasonal workshops on herbal medicine. We also produce a line of high quality herbal products with the herbs we grow under the name Miss Mullein’s Herbals.

4. Perennial Ridge Farms

Rose Rogan
I started up a wholesale farm and nursery over 20 years ago, in the Cowichan Valley.
I employ local high school students in the spring and summer.
It is usually their first job, and they love working here. Once they graduate, they move onto new things in their life, and about 98% keep in touch.
The farm has goats, chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys, ducks and geese. And 3 dogs and 4 cats!
For Seedy Saturday I will have nursery stock grown on Vancouver Island.
Perennials, Rhododendrons, Berry bushes ( blueberry, raspberry, currents, boysenberry, logan berry, tayberrry ), ornamental trees, and hardy succulents.
Lily bulbs will be available, as well as occupied Mason Bee blocks.

5. Bugs with Benefits

Debbie Foster
Bugs with Benefits is a beneficial predatory insect provider located in Coombs. I grow and distribute insects to be used in greenhouses as well as outdoor garden applications. Common bugs I offer are: Ladybugs for aphids, Podisus for caterpillars, hypoaspis for fungus gnat, cucumeris for thrips, californicus for spider mites and nematodes for beetle and weevil larva. I will have products available at SeedySaturday that focus primarily on indoor growing, and will be taking orders for outdoor products for later in the spring.


6. Innesfree Farm and Botanic Garden

Dr Thierry Vrain and Chanchal Cabrera,


7. J & R Farm

Rose and Jim Mcculley
Mason Bee kits, cocoons, tubes, houses, jams, jellies and mustard pickles

8. World  Community Development Education Society.


World Community is a leading promoter of Fair/Direct Trade in the Comox Valley, selling organic fair trade products such as coffee, chocolate, tea, and olive oil since 1996. Fair trade sales provide fair wages for farmers and support important health and community projects.  Our film festival and film series have featured many films about food security, seeds, and growing organically. FMI:

9. Brother Nature Organic Seeds.

Gordon and Coral Brinck

Brother Nature Organic Seeds has been growing and selling Certified Organic, Openly Pollinated Vegetable, Herb, Annual & Perennial seed for 14 years now.

Our Certified Organic seed is grown is West Saanich, on Vancouver Island where we are blessed with abundant summer sunshine, pure clean water and excellent growing conditions.

Our mission is simple. To provide you the buyer, with seeds for a complete bio diverse garden, grown from an inexpensive, reliable eco-friendly seed source. Feedback has been excellent over the years and we will continue to strive to meet the ever growing public desire, to grow healthy chemical free plants.

We also germination test all our seed. We adjust our quantities in proportion to germination ratios, so that provided proper conditions, you should realize as many plants as the seed quantities states on the package or more.

Our selection is heavy on plants that provide food, beauty, interest, diversity and color.

10. Good Earth Farms

Heather Mills and Simon Toole
We are Simon Toole and Heather Mills and we have a passion for saving seed and growing delicious food. All of our seeds are grown by us, open pollinated, untreated and many are heirlooms. We started our business in 2002 and got our own farm in 2004. We grow all naturally and are deeply committed to sustainable local growing. We are thankful to have the opportunity to grow in such a beautiful valley and for the undying support of our customers.

11. Salt Spring Seeds.

Dan Jason.

Since 1988 we’ve been supplying seeds to farmers and gardeners, promoting organic growing, and encouraging people to save their own seed. We carry lots of very special grains, beans, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

All our seeds are untreated, open-pollinated and non-GMO. We grow all our own seeds and sell only our most recent harvest.

dan-jasonDan Jason.

12. Backyard Botanicals.

Cathy Moulton

I started a small nursery in Merville a few years ago with the goal of providing locally grown herbs, vegetables and flowers. I began sales at local farmers’ markets last year and I am very proud of our farming community and the people who support it by shopping local.

My goal is to grow plants that will encourage people to grow their own food, herbs and flowers.

13. DDC Dahlias


Karen Bull

14. TreeEater Farm and Nursery

Peter Janes

15. Mason Bees Metchosin.

Gary Fletcher.

I raise Mason bees on our farm and sell cleaned and packaged in a two dozen cocoon package selling for $16.00. I also sell dried natural Phragmites reed grass stem tubes which I harvest from our wetland are used to culture them. I find that these tubes are the most efficient for attracting mason bees and reducing parasite infection. Also inexpensive re-purposed material houses are available.

16. Anderton therapeutic Gardens Society

Joan Gage

We are a non-profit society and will be displaying information about the Gardens on Anderton.

17. Sweet Rock Farm

Sal Dominelli


18. Y Grip Garden Tool Ltd.

Paul Carr

Y grip 1Paul is a Registered Massage Therapist with a previous background as a mechanic. These two disciplines, the understanding of anatomy and ergonomics and the understanding of hand tools, came together in the moment the y grip was invented. What started as a solution to digging in hard soil for his own purposes is now a patented tool that he can share with other gardeners.

 19. Speedbin Composters

Joyce McMenamon

This Comox Valley business started 25 years ago and is now being rekindled by Joyce McMenamon, daughter of the original inventor. Several design changes in 2015 make it stronger, easier to assemble and good-looking in a dark green colour.

Speedibin is all about backyard composting.  The metal Speedibin composter is designed to keep out pests and be easy to use.  Because it is made of metal, with a metal bottom screen and a locking lid, rats and pests can’t get in. The lid and front door slide off for easy access. At 405 litres, it is big enough to make hot compost and small enough to fit discreetly in the yard.  

They are fabricated in BC. 

Check our website,, and then visit our Seedy Saturday display, chat about composting issues and play the composting skills game.


Joyce and the Speedbin

Joyce and the Speedbin

20. Omega Blue Farms.

Wayne Osborne\

Seeds, plants starts, possibility of plants

21. Seeds of Diversity.

Judy Newman
Administrator, Seeds of Diversity
Seeds of Diversity is a Canadian charitable organization whose members and volunteers work to preserve the
biodiversity in our food. We believe that when people save seeds, they are helping build a self-reliant food system,
and creating a new relationship with the plants, pollinators and seeds that keep people fed.

Our work includes maintaining an extensive seed library, supporting “Seedy Saturday” events across the country, running a Canada-wide seed savers exchange network, and more.
We say: Join us! Become part of a growing movement of seed savers, gardeners, eaters and anyone interested in building a strong and vibrant seed system.

22. Figs For Life/ Emerald Voices

Devmurti Khalsa


23. Salt Spring Sprouts and Mushrooms.

Jacob Cooper

We sell a range of certified organic sprouted seeds and mushrooms substrate for home cultivation. We also sell fresh organic mushrooms and organic sprout rolls. Our booth is both a vending and educational space with information conveyed about live food and the many wonders of the fungal queendom.

We exhibit fruiting substrate of both shiitake and oyster mushrooms to facilitate education and excitement in growing your own.


24. Garden Lore

Joan Wynden

Joan Wynden, a Master Gardener and Permaculture Designer, can’t seem to stop producing new plants, and now calls herself a plant midwife.  Featuring deer resistant and drought tolerant perennials, her home-based nursery, Garden Lore,  celebrates the wonders of nature with a selection of the unique and unusual, the beautiful and the bizarre.

Additionally she offers organically grown early veggie starts and herbs.

25. Gardeners Green.

Summer and Jim.

Gardeners Green is home to Summer and Jim. They moved to this rural property in Merville from England in 2010 bringing with them some of their rare and unusual plant collection. They are both creative people with thousands of artistic ideas for plants, materials and structures. Jim is a metalworker by trade, and they both work in wood.

They are continuously in the process of creating an English cottage style garden with west coast overtones and lots Green ManThe Green Man represents the verdant energy of fertility and the element of nature that sparks and energises things to grow. “Our concrete Green Man wall hangers come in small and large sizes, and are guaranteed to bless your garden with abundant fertility!”

26. Comox Valley Bee Club.

Jenn Differ – President


27. West Coast Seeds.

28. Larry Church.

Mason Bee houses.

29. Growing island Growers.

David Wicklund

David Wicklund established Growing Island Growers to address the need for small scale garden tillage equipment in the Comox Valley. We can prepare gardens from a hundred square feet to several acres. Building raised beds in various widths and lengths is easy with this equipment. We also offer rental packages of the BCS walk behind tractor and specialized tillage implements. David is the field manager at Pattison Farms where  this equipment is utilized in an intensive vegetable production system. Come see the equipment and book your spring tillage or equipment rental needs.


30. Island Greenhouses

Gerry Giesbrecht

We have just started Island Greenhouses after considerable planning.
We think the more people that grow their own healthy food the better.
We have been In small business here on the Island since 2001.
The whole time we were looking for a green product to focus on.
While shopping for a quality cedar greenhouse I realized there was no locally made and distributed options.
Our desire is to provide locally made quality hobby greenhouses and encourage more people to enjoy growing their own healthy food.
The greenhouses are post and beam west coast designs made with cedar timbers with glass windows and have a balance of open form and function.

31. Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

Dedicated to promoting health and wellness through natural nutrition, we

offer a comprehensive diploma program that integrates a deep knowledge of
the healing and preventive properties of food, science, the body-mind-spirit
connection, and the environment. Our approach is holistic, blending
practical knowledge with hands-on experience in a supportive,
student-centered learning environment.

32.The Blueberry Man

Daxton Bennet.

3 year old blueberry plants bluecrop, duke and Elliot
Thornless blackberry plants
Strawberry plants “honoeye”
Raspberry “chemainus”



Blueberry plants

Blueberry plants

33. GE Free Comox Valley.

Linda Cheu.

GE Free Comox Valley is a local non-profit group dedicated to inform and update consumers of   developments in

 biotechnology affecting our food system. We  start petitions,lobby local governments and participate in national actions
to voice consumers’ concerns over the safety of our food. In this age of  profit first ideology, we intend to stay true to keeping our food
healthy above all things.

34. Vancouver Island Mushroom Adventures.

Michael Vossen

Shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Gourmet mushrooms and mushroom farming supplies.

Michael and Polypore

Michael and Giant Redbelt Polypore

35. Connie Kuramoto

36. Master Gardeners.

Mark Flemming.

Do you have a Planting or Gardening Question? Vancouver Island Master Gardeners – your community gardening resource – are eager to help you get your seeds and plants off to a successful start and a satisfied harvest. The Master Gardeners are pleased to offer information and answers to home gardeners of all ages and experience regarding plants, veggies, berries, shrubs, trees, planting, soils, composting, plant ID, pruning, propagation, weeds, pest/disease and their controls while emphasizing environmentally responsible gardening practices. Ask us about the Master Gardener’s Program offered this fall at Vancouver Island University or


37. Bloomfield Flats Custom Cedar Furniture

Brian and Judy Bloomfield

We are a home-based business in Courtenay serving folks for over 30 years. We produce high quality, value-added ergonomic chairs in 2 styles and sizes to fit any body. Western Red Cedar is locally sourced and hand selected. Loveseats, tables, barstools, benches, garden trugs, footstools, boxes and more can all be made to suit your needs and desires. Our products offer handcrafted functional elegance for your home, garden, deck, patio or cottage. Create your oasis and love your space!

38. Organized Kindling

Barbara Toombs

Vendor, garden products made of local wood, recycled, re-purposed or rescued from the burn pile. Made by gardeners for gardeners.

Fir Obelisks, wooden product boxes, dibblers, some wooden jewelry such as bracelets, rings, napkin rings, Trugs, pussy willow and Forsythia flowering branches

CV Seed Bank.

40 Lake Trail Neighbourhood Connections  LTNC

Elaine Codling


Nov 01 2016

Past event – Volunteer appreciation BBQ 2016


The BBQ was held on Sunday August 7th from 4pm till dark  at  Innisfree Farm and Botanical Garden,

3636 Trent Rd in Royston

The BBQ was open to all indiviuals who volunteered in any way with the activities of the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers (the invitation includes their spouse/partner and children).

The menu will included  Burgers –  either Salmon or Black Bean and volunteers were asked to state their preference in advance.

Linda Smith provided some great salads and individual fruit cup deserts.


The event was offered by CVGSS to show their appreciation for the hard work done by so many volunteers.

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