Tuesday tidbits.

A lightning round of links to explore this week:

Cool beans.


Okay, it’s that super sweet time of the year…I’ve got all the seed catalogues open at the ready and I’m wanting to order some “new-to-me” varieties of beans. (I’m a total newbie bean grower – scarlet runners are the extent of my experience.  They are so fun I’ve decided beans are totally my thing and I must. grow. more.). Before I make a decision, I thought I’d do a little brain-picking: what bean varieties have you grown and loved and would recommend to me?  Pole/climbing beans only, please (I don’t have room for bush beans). I’m looking forward to hearing about your favourites!

More seeds to give away!

I’m organizing!  Or something like it, anyway….

If you live in Canada and would like any of the following seeds, please go to my CONTACT FORM and fill out your name, mailing address, and a list of the seeds you’re interested in. I’ll ship them out to you free of charge within the next few weeks.

I’m so sorry, but I cannot mail seeds to anyone outside of Canada. As well, I have very limited quantities of some of these, so drop me a line right away for best selection.

Although many of these are salad greens and vegetables, there are a few that you may need to research ahead of requesting – look for things such as hardiness zone, size, growth habit (some of these are spreaders and reseeders, so be warned!) etc..  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

And, of course, even though I’ve made all attempts to store these properly, there is no guarantee that they will germinate and/or grow.  But I think you should have pretty good results.  Happy gardening!

Up for grabs:

Calendula (unknown cultivar, single blooms)

Rock soapwort


Lupine (unknown cultivar)

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) – SORRY, ALL SPOKEN FOR

Rat’s tail radish


Golden purslane


Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) – SORRY, ALL SPOKEN FOR

Magentaspreen (Chenopodium giganteum)

Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii) – SORRY, ALL SPOKEN FOR


Hu hsien

Red frills mustard greens

Radish (regular white-fleshed, red-skinned variety)

Mitsuba (Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica)


Rapini ‘Sorrento’

Alyssum (perennial)

Ground cherry ‘Aunt Molly’

Shiso (Perilla frutescens)

Hamburg parsley



Post-Flowery Friday.


The autumn-sunlit seed heads of Clematis occidentalis, growing wild among the aspens at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area south of Calgary, Alberta: so fascinating!

Now that’s some seriously fertile seed.

You know when you’re rummaging around in those old seed packets from years back and you look at the “sow by” dates and they’re long past but you just can’t bear to throw the seeds out and you hope against hope that you haven’t wasted money and time by not planting them sooner…?

Well, have I got a story for you.  It appears that a group of biophysicists at the Russian Academy of Sciences have managed to “resurrect” a plant from a seed that has been trapped in permafrost in Siberia for 30,000 years.  Although the scientists didn’t merely pluck the seed of Silene stenophylla out of the ground and plop it in a container with a good soilless potting mix (rather, they cultured tissue from the seed), they eventually ended up with a blooming flower that supposedly has set viable seed of its own.  While the science of this is hardly new – tissue culture is a widely-used method of plant propagation, and scientists from around the world have “revived” other types of old plants this way, this is by far the oldest sample of plant tissue that has ever been successfully grown.  See a photo of the plant and the news story here.

So, what does this mean for you, besides the fact that if these clever guys get going, we may one day have woolly mammoths trampling our perennial beds and omnivorous ice age squirrels running around stealing our tulip bulbs and stalking the neighbour’s cat?  It means that perhaps you shouldn’t throw out all those old seed packets just yet.  Yes, you shouldn’t expect much of the seeds they contain – the truth is, plant seeds do have a certain time-limited viability (determined by species) and the germination rate is indeed influenced by how the seed is stored and for how long.  There’s a huge chance that your success rate will be very low, or even non-existent.  But, maybe it’s worth planting them anyway, just in case.   A single fertile seed is all it takes.   And if you’re storing your seeds in permafrost, well, that’s all the more reason to get growing! 🙂


Here are the Silenes of my garden….

Silene schafta (moss campion)

Are you growing any campions (catchflys)?  What are your favourites?


And, if you’re curious about seed quality issues, check out this post, from Going to Seed, which offers a grower’s perspective.  Take to heart his suggestion to keep in touch with your seed providers – they can learn a great deal from your input!  (But…don’t go complaining to them if you can’t get your seed to germinate after the “sow by” date.  They don’t like that).