Category Archives: Seedy Saturdays

ACORN hosting 2016 ECOSGN seed conference

The third biennial ECOSGN (Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network) Seed Conference is coming!

This year ECOSGN has teamed up with ACORN (the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network) to have the ECOSGN conference at the ACORN fall conference.


The Details

Where: Moncton, NB at the Delta Beauséjour

When: November 28–30, 2016

How to register: Click here to register before November 18

This is a bilingual event with sessions in English translated to French and sessions in French translated in English

Seedy Sessions

Pre-conference seed kick-off

Day 1 Seed Perspective Plenary

Day 1 sessions

I’ll be speaking on day 1 about Cover Crops & Rotations in Seed Production.

Day 2 sessions

Day 3 seed swap


The Rest of The Conference Will Also Be Awesome

In addition to the the seed stream, there are 3 other farming streams on Day 1 & 2. And on day 3, though there are no seed streams (beyond a seed swap) there are still 4 farming streams. Here’s the program for the whole ACORN conference

Emily will also be speaking at the conference in the following sessions: Post Harvest Handling at Tourne-sol Farm & Opening Plenary: The Changing Face of Farming

Go And Register!

You can register here The deadline to register is November 18.



Visiting Greta’s Organic Gardens

This post is a little late coming …

On August 25th, 2010, the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) hosted a field trip to Greta’s Organic Gardens in Ottawa, Ontario. The visit was broken up into

  • A little about Greta,
  • A field walk,
  • A tomato taste test,
  • A peek inside Greta’s seed workshop, and
  • A seed cleaning demonstration.

A Little Bit About Greta

Greta Kryger is a staple at most Seedy Saturdays and Sundays across Quebec and Ontario. Her seeds are also available through her on-line seed catalogue. Greta grows all her own tomato, pepper, eggplant, and melon seed in addition to as many other species as she can fit in to her gardens.

Greta’s Organic Gardens began as a market garden in 1991. She began saving seeds and  selling at the Ottawa and Toronto Seedy Saturdays in 1992-1993. In the late nineties, she switched from market gardening to 100% seed production. Her production has been certified organic since 2003.

Greta has also been on the ECOSGN steering committee since its first meeting in March 2008.

Field Walk

The morning began with a walk across Greta’s fields.

A few cucurbit species on black geotextile (for weed control).


Some of Greta’s seed crops are also grown in tunnels. This adds heat and isolates plants from  other pollen sources.

These guys make good use of any seed cleaning byproducts (i.e squash and tomato pulp).

Tomato Taste Test

Greta is known for her huge selection of tomatoes. With a couple of volunteers, Greta set up 30 or so sampling stations of different tomatoes.

Tasters rated each tomato from 1 to 5 on different aspects such as taste and  appearance.

A Peek Into Greta’s Seed Workshop/Greenhouse

This greenhouse is Greta’s seed wonderland with an aquatic garden and heat loving plants.

The controlled climate let’s Greta collect seed from many plants that might not set much seed in our climate.

In one corner of the greenhouse, tomatoes are fermenting.

Tomato seeds are placed on screens (these are actually pepper seeds.)

Then stacked to dry.

Greta also brings seed crops into the greenhouse to dry out of the rain.

Some seed crops are hung in pillow cases to dry.

Seed Cleaning Demonstration

Greta uses a set of seed screens (also notice the colander collection in the upper left corner) to remove most of the chaff from her seeds. The final cleaning of most crops is done with this air column:

Dirty seeds go in the top right pipe. Lighter material (dirt, dust, chaff) is blown out the top of the long pipe. Heavier material (seeds and maybe stones) are collected from the bottom of the pipe.

The air column is powered by a bathroom fan with a dimmer switch.

(Compare this with Patrice Fortier’s air column.)

Thanks Greta for a great farm tour and a great farm lunch – the turkey meat balls were especially good!

ECOSGN is currently planning more great seedy events – more details soon …

The Asparagus Pea (Tetragonolobus purpureus)

Last summer, I tried out a bunch of different edible legumes. The strangest of which was Tetragonolobus purpureus – the asparagus pea.

Asparagus peas are common in most books about strange and unusual vegetables but not so common in seed catalogs. I purchased my seed from Patrice at la Société des Plantes during a Seedy Sunday last year. (And now we’ve added it to our seed offerings.)

The Edible Asparagus Pea Pod

Folks claim you can lightly boil the young pods then eat them. And that they taste like asparagus.

The pods look like skinny 2-inch long pea pods with 4 wings sticking out.

We didn’t get around to boiling the asparagus peas but we did sample them raw.

If you have an excessively moist mouth, and are looking for something to suck all the moisture out and leave you all pasty, then asparagus peas are the vegetable for you.

Raw asparagus peas are incredibly astringent. I hope they are better cooked.

The Asparagus Pea Plant

This winter I mentioned to Patrice how astringent the pods were. He knew what I was talking about. He said that the growing tips of the stems were delicious in salads.

Next year we’ll sample the tips and make a more informed evaluation of asparagus pea culinary merits. In the meantime we have

The Asparagus Pea Flowers

And they are stunning.

These plants are definitely worth growing as a sprawling ornamental in the ground or in a container.

A Few Word About Growing Asparagus Peas

Asparagus peas

  • are fairly cold hardy (like peas)
  • can be sown directly outdoors or started indoors
  • have mature seed by August near Montreal

There you have it – the asparagus pea: easy to grow, beautiful scarlet blooms, and great for excessively moist mouths.

Who else is a fan?

Tourne-Sol’s 2012 Seed Catalog and New Website

This post is the official launch of both our 2012 Seed Catalog and  Tourne-Sol’s new farm website.

2012 Seed Catalog

You can download the actual catalog from these links:

New Website and Online Store

Our new Tourne-Sol website is at our old address but with a new look and new features such as

  • An Online Store for our seeds, teas, and more;
  • A blog Newsletter archived by recipe;
  • A Meet Your Farmers Page where you can read about the Tourne-Sol farmers and apprentices;
  •  A Virtual Farm Tour with tons of images;
  • And more!

We built the site ourselves (with a lot of support from Koumbit) using Drupal, a free open-source content management system; and Ubercart, an e-commerce platform. Though it’s required a lot of learning, Drupal lets us do just about anything we want including getting the site fully bilingual (English and French).

Over the next couple of months we’ll be adding a few more pages to the site and continuously looking for typos but after 8 months of labor (with a huge push in December and January) we’re thrilled to see it go live.


Also we will be at the Montreal Seedy Saturday and Sunday this weekend at the botanical gardens. If you’re in the area and you love seeds, you should come by.

2011 Tourne-Sol Seed Catalog

Hot off the pdf press. Last night we put the finishing touches on our 2011 seed catalog. It can be downloaded as either

We’d planned to release the catalog a couple of weeks ago but we ran into a few logistic challenges.


Previously the labels on our seed packets only stated basic information such as the crop, the variety, and our farm details. In January, we overhauled the labels and added variety descriptions and planting instructions – in English and in French! Formatting these labels took much longer than I thought. It was a good opportunity to revamp our seed catalog descriptions, though that added to the workload.


We provide our farm promotional material in both French and English to better serve our clientele’s needs. Translating material and making sure the information is accurate in both languages takes time. Overhauling the variety descriptions meant an extra round of translation and proofreading.


We grow 70% of the varieties in our catalog. The remaining 30% come from other growers and suppliers. We only know the availability of some varieties in mid to late January. We don’t like to list a variety until we definitely know we can offer it. At our scale, it is difficult to deal with refunds when something isn’t available and we like to minimize substituting varieties.


Since we likely won’t be overhauling our labels and catalog again for  a few years, we probably could have next year’s catalog written by  early January maybe even before Christmas. We’d still have to deal with confirming different variety availabilities.

The solution  is likely the on-line store we’ll be building over the next 6 months. The store will let us maintain up to date seed listings and relieve some of the pressure on having an early seed catalog.


Next weekend, February 12 and 13, is the Montreal Seedy Saturday – our first big seedy event of the year. To get ready, we’ll be shifting into full-time seed packing on Monday. I’ll keep you up to date.

The Season of Seedy Saturdays and Sundays

I love seedy Saturdays and Sundays. I guess, I like any event where gardeners, farmers and seed companies get together to trade and buy seeds.

Montreal Seedy Weekend

Wikipedia tells me the first Seedy Saturday took place on Valentine’s Day 1989. Today there are more than 50 Seedy days across Canada. Seeds of Diversity has a list of the dates and locations here.

Our farm attends a number of these events. We were in Montreal on February 13-14. We will be in Ottawa on March 6th at the Ron Kolbus center on 105 Greenview ave. And then in Québec City at Laval University on March 7th.

These Seedy Days create a place where seed growers and gardeners can meet. There are a lot of small seed companies across Canada and a lot of them have started off at a Seedy Saturday. I know we did.