2014 Tourne-Sol seed catalog

Our new seed catalog is out.

Cover 1final

Actually it’s been out since the end of January but I didn’t take the time to post it here!

This is a new step in Tourne-Sol catalogs. It has a lot more colour (4 pages!) & it is fully bilingual French/English.

We used to print a different version for each language but it was a pain when catalogs in one language ran out. It also meant writing 2 catalogs. Integrating both languages took some extra but should be ahead of the game for next year. (Or so I hope.)

One challenge with a bilingual catalog is how to classify crops. For some we could just classify bilingually and it wouldn’t matter (such as carrots/carottes or beets/betteraves.) However other crops are written very differently in both languages (beans/haricots; squash/courge; eggplant/aubergine) and it means that organizing alphabetically means one language group can’t find what they are looking for.

We chose to confuse everyone. We classified by botanical family, and then by scientific name! We did put an index at the beginning of the catalog, I just hope it’s enough! Next year, it will be more comprehensive.

Enjoy our catalog, feel free to order large amounts of seed, and please tell me what you think of our crop classification!

Planning Seed Crops Webinar – Wed. Feb 19, 2014

You are invited to join us for a webinar on Planning Vegetable Seed Crops. 
The first in our series “Growing for Seed: The Fundamentals” this webinar will feature presentations from Patrick Steiner (Stellar Seeds, BC), Daniel Brisebois (Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, QC), and Michelle Smith (Northwind Farm, NS). Together they’ll cover a range of topics to get you started in your seed garden this year, including:
–Knowing seed crops & lifecycle patterns, isolation distances, and population sizes;
–Sourcing appropriate seed stock and integrating seed production onto your farm; and
–Using and marketing seed crops: intended use and prospective buyers.
DATE: Wednesday February 19th, 2014
TIME: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
TO JOIN THE MEETING, simply click here, or copy and paste this link into your browser:
Once the meeting is started you should be able to see and hear everything directly on/from your computer. If you can see the meeting, but you can’t hear us, you can dial-in (toll-free) to get the audio.
The phone number is 1-866-811-9555, the conference code you will be prompted to enter is 9730133156. Please use your phone only if you can’t use your computer.
In order to participate in the webinar you’ll need:
–A computer with Flash. If you can watch (and hear) a YouTube video, you’re probably all good. If you can’t try downloading Flash Player here.
–If you’re in a shared space, you’ll want headphones to plug into your computer to hear the audio without disturbing others.
If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before you can get a quick overview here: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html
If you have questions about how to join this webinar, please contact Steph at seed@acornorganic.org 
If you can’t join us on Wednesday, but are interested in this content, we will be posting it online at www.seedsecurity.ca. Please be patient with us, we’ll post the content as quickly as we can.
Please note that this is an English webinar. We are planning 2 French webinars and will keep you updated on that as details are confirmed.

Seedy Reading and Listening For The Holiday Season

I’ve been a bit slow on posts over the last 15 months. (Coincidentally about the same amount of time that Stella has been in our lives!) Nonetheless I’ve been busy with seeds and have thought of many fantastic blog posts I could write. And maybe in 2014, I will write some of those posts.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of the seedy stuff I’ve been listening and reading.

Recently awaytogarden.com started a podcast series called Seed Smarts in which Margaret Roach interviews some big seed names. There have been 3 interviews to date:

  1. John Navasio of the Organic Seed Alliance on plant breeding and hybriditis – the tendency “where the predominant number of varieties available for any particular crop, like cabbage, or broccoli, or carrots, are hybrids”
  2. Lia Babitch of Turtle Tree Seed on running a seed company that grows a large amount of the seed they sell.
  3. Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds on, amongst other topics, why they offer hybrids though they are big proponents of OP seeds.

I’ve also been reading Joseph Lofthouse’s series on Landrace Gardening at motherearthnews.com. Joseph is based in Utah and has been letting varieties of the same species cross up and selecting what does best for his location. In this way he’s developing new landraces full of potential.

Do you have any suggestions of great seedy listening or reading? If you do, please share!

Renewing our vows to the seeds in our lives

In the Fall issue of the Heritage Farm Companion (Seed Saver’s Exchange member magazine), there was a transcription of Gary Paul Nabhan’s keynote at the annual SSE campout. I was touched by the end of his keynote when he invited members of the audience to renew their vows to the seed that they have been part of and that have been part of their lives.

I would like to renew these vows &  invite you to do the same. Here are the vows that Gary Paul Nabhan led his audience members through:

I, Daniel Brisebois, a gardened, farmer, seed saver, and eater,

wish to renew our sacred vows

to take care, love and serve.

Through sickness and in health

in times of crisis and times of joy,

to sow the seeds of food justice,

to sow the seeds of food security,

to sow the seeds of food democracy,

to sow the seeds of true food sovereignty,

through our own actions and our own eating patterns

so that we may all eat what we have truly sown.

I reaffirm our covenant with this earth,

to humbly be just one more way that seeds themselves regenerate

into more seeds to nourish all of us.

2013 True Garlic Seed Update

Last summer I successfully grew true garlic seed. I was thrilled.


In the middle of the winter I followed Ted Jordan Meredith and Avram Drucker’s advice and soaked the garlic seeds in a 1% solution of household bleach. I then rinsed the seeds and placed them on moist paper towels in a ziplock bag in the fridge for 4 weeks.

Afterwards, I planted them in trays in our greenhouse amidst our vegetable seedlings and waited. And waited. And waited.

By mid-summer, none of the garlic seeds had germinated and the potting soil had begun to crust over. I tossed the trays with a deep sigh of disappointment.

Of course, I haven’t given up. Currently I am waiting on a couple dozen garlic scapes to to set seed in our kitchen. At present, they have swollen green ovaries. With a bit of luck, I might have more seed by the end of November!

Earlier this week, there was an exciting post on the Seed Savers Exchange True Garlic Seed forum thread.  Dr. Ivan Buddenhagen, a UC Davis professor who has been working with garlic from true seed for 14 years, is currently offering bulbs of 10 varieties he has selected from seed producing garlic cultivars. He also has limited quantities of true seed for sale at $25 per 100 seeds. His website is http://ivansnewgarlics.com/Home.html.

Growing Garlic From Bulbils

We currently grow about 16000 garlic bulbs. Roughly 1/3 were initially started from bulbil on our farm. We propagate by bulbil in part to keep costs down but also to avoid importing disease from other farms when we buy in new garlic varieties.

Garlic bulbils are the small bulbs that develop in the garlic scape if you leave the scape on the plant. These are not seeds, they are genetically identical to the mother plant.

Let’s take a year by year look at one garlic variety that we bought in 2006 and have since bulked up to be one of our main cultivars using bulbils.

( You can also read about planting garlic bulbils in more detail in this GTS post.)



  • Bought Siberian Marbled Purple Stripe garlic from another grower.
  • October: Planted bulbs in trial garden to avoid introducing unknown disease into main crop.


  • June: Left garlic scapes on plants
  • Early August: Harvested bulbs then ate them. Kept scapes with bulbils.
  • October: Planted bulbils.


  • Early July: Harvested 16 garlic rounds. Garlic rounds are bulbs that only contain 1 round clove.
  • October: Planted 16 garlic rounds.


  • Mid July: Harvested 16 small bulbs with 2-4 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 1.5″ to 1.75″ in diameter. The largest is 2″ wide.
  • October: Plant all garlic cloves.


  • Mid July: Harvested 47 bulbs with 3-5 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 1.75″ to 2″ in diameter. The largest is 2.25″ wide.
  • October: Planted all garlic cloves.


  • Early August: Harvested 178 bulbs with 4-6 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 2″ to 2.25″ in diameter. 1 bulb is 2.75″ wide.
  • We ate/sold half the bulbs (the smallest bulbs) and kept the largest bulbs for seed.
  • October: Planted garlic cloves from the largest bulbs.


  • Early August: Harvested 520 bulbs.
  • 3/4 of bulbs are from 2″ to 2.75″ in diameter. 39 bulbs are 2.75″ wide.
  • We ate/sold half the bulbs (the smallest bulbs) and kept the largest bulbs for seed.


  • Early August: Harvested about 1200 bulbs.
  • Over 95% of the bulbs are from 2″ to 2.75″ in diameter. Many 2.75″ wide.
  • We plan on keeping the largest bulbs for seed and planting about 2000 cloves in the fall.

In Conclusion

I  planted Siberian bulbils in 2007. It took 3 years (2010) to get a fair number of bulbs of moderate size. By year 4 (2011),  we started selling bulbs. By year 5 (2012), we achieved bulb sizes comparable to our Rocambole and Porcelain garlic. And in year 6 (2013), this garlic is now one of our main varieties!

Growing garlic from bulbil let’s you bulk up your garlic stock and it also gives you some time to evaluate that garlic!

Marbled Purple Stripewtmk

2013 Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Garlic Festival

This brand new Ste-Anne garlic fest movie will make you jump in your vehicle  on Saturday, August 24 from 9 am to 2 pm and get to the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue farmers market for the 7th annual garlic fest!

You can find out more on the English garlic fest website or the French festival de l’ail website. If you’re facbook-inclined, don’t forget to like the facebook page.

See you there!