We at Silicon Valley Seeds have been in the midst of moving our garden activities to a new location. By this time I normally have several sheets of graph paper chock full of writing and drawn boxes and copious scribbles and notes, with a clear idea about which seeds will populate the boxes, those seeds having been sorted and stored in a special box for sowing into starter trays. However this year, I only have the hint of an idea of what I will be doing for spring. Why is that? Well, moving has (as moving always does) disrupted my norm. New beds are prepared, but getting a drip system installed is taking a bit longer than expected. Luckily, I got my garlic (Siskiyou Purples) into the beds, mulched over with straw, and they are happy and quietly growing.
This year we have applied to help with a tomato trial. We decided in favor of trying new tomato varieties instead of sticking with the tried and true varieties we have grown in past few years. We will be trialing three varieties, planting three tomato plants for each variety. So nine tomato plants in total. That will be the extent of our tomato growing this season. Truth be told, we don’t need much in the way of tomato products this year because we grew lots of tomato plants last year and canned the resulting abundance of fruit; the pantry is now well stocked with jarred tomato. Having taken inventory of what I have in the pantry, I realized that I will only need a small amount of canned crushed tomato this season to bring levels back up to full. (Yes, it is always a good idea to check to see how much of something is needed in order to keep one’s store of that particular item at an acceptable level; I make it a point to always do this prior to laying out the final plan for my garden). And lest you wonder, we will be saving seed from all nine of the trialed plants and making those seeds available to area gardeners.
Another area of interest that we will be working on is testing plants for those who grow in small spaces (patios, balconies, and the like), in what is lovingly refer to as container gardening. While I ran a small scale trial last year in my back yard, this year I will be teaming up with a group of area gardeners who have said they’d be willing to try growing some mini varieties on their patios and balconies for us. Our hope is to determine some of the best varieties to grow in containers, to report how they do in our area, and to offer the seeds of varieties at the top of the list within our seed library.
We are now in the rollercoaster month of February, when the wildly fluctuating temperatures tend to confuse our plants and fruit trees. It’s just mid-month and we’ve already seen two 80 degree days. We think its going to be a warm summer, so I’ll be looking at the watermelon seeds and deciding which ones I’d like to grow.
One of the big changes we are making at Silicon Valley Seeds is our approach to seed libraries. This year we will be focusing on encouraging and supporting tiny, family run seed libraries which are operating here in the South Bay. We’ll be looking at specific ways to support them, as well as ways of forming a strong network of such libraries.
Why the shift in thinking? Well, we were extremely disappointed to see the seed libraries maintained within the public library system being made inaccessible due to concerns about the Covid virus, at the exact time when demand for seed for use in personal gardens was at the highest. The public needed access to seed for their food security, but with the closing of city libraries came the closing of the seed libraries that are housed within them. This for us represented a huge fail of the public library seed library model. As a result, we have decided to take a step back and think about how we can best ensure that seed is always kept available to public access. It now appears that this would best be done outside of the public library system, within tiny neighborhood seed libraries.
Another bit of news: we will now be maintaining a presence at the on-line community Nextdoor. Folks can find us at the Nextdoor group Silicon Valley Seeds – South Bay Seed Stewards.
Our vision continues to be to create an on-line community of gardeners, growers, and stewards of seed. We hope you will consider joining in the effort.
Rachel Kalauokalani remains the driving force behind Silicon Valley Seeds. A seed steward whose family comes from a farming background, Rachel is passionate about re-establishing people’s understanding of the importance of organic gardening and food sovereignty. She continues to educate and encourage new gardeners throughout the bay area.