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August 2016

Garlic Bulbils Available

Due to high demand, we are now sold out of garlic bulbils for 2016. Thank you for your orders!

Seeds of Diversity has over 30 varieties of garlic bulbils available for planting this fall, and we're looking for growers!  Bulbils - not the large bulbs that you're probably used to, but the tiny nuggets that grow in the scapes at the tops of the plants.

If you plant bulbils, be prepared to wait for two full years before harvesting fully-grown garlic, but the results should be better than clove-planted garlic, and growing from bulbils is a very economical way to scale up a diverse collection of varieties.

Varieties available:
Alison's Chesnuk Red Khabar Metechi
Armenian Porcelain Chet's Italian Kiev Persian Star
Baba Franchuk's Chiloe Killarney Purple Glazer
Belarus Fauquier Lavigna Shatilli
Bogatyr French Red Legacy Siberian
Brown Tempest Gaia's Joy Leningrad Slovak
California Late German Red Lukak Wild Buff
Central Siberian German Stiffneck Malpasse Yugoslavian

While supplies last, we will send a good amount (at least 20) of bulbils for 5 different varieties to anyone interested in growing them.  The bulbils are free, but we charge $10 for shipping and handling, which can be paid by credit card / Paypal at  


How to Grow Garlic from Bulbils

The usual method for growing garlic is to break each bulb (the part that grows under the ground) into cloves, and to replant the cloves separately in autumn. Each clove grows into a whole new bulb, which is harvested in mid-summer. Normally, growers remove the scapes (the flower stems) in early summer, to allow bulbs to grow larger. That makes sense, and it really makes a difference. If you leave the scape intact, the plant divides its energy between scape and bulb growth, so the bulb ends up smaller.


First Nations Farmers and Seeds

Heritage vegetables incorporate just what you might think they would – a rich history and culture in the form of food, stories and growing practices. Many are unique varieties that have stood the test of time, often because of their impeccable storage, hardiness, adaptability and taste. 

Saving open pollinated seeds means that you can select the traits that are most desirable, tailoring a variety to the preference of those who eat it and the regions in which it is grown, and passing down those traits from one generation to another. This exact practice has been done by seed savers around the world for hundreds of years, and is the reason we can enjoy some of the foods our great-great-grandparents did.


Evaluating and Choosing VSPN Varieties

How do you pick a new vegetable variety to grow? Each crop variety has unique characteristics and traits. Some are minor variations, like the leaf density and the shape of the fruit at the blossom end, while others are major variations like fruit colour and number of fruits per plant. 

This choice is a very important step for the Vegetable Seed Producers Network (VSPN) – our network of Ontario seed growers who are collectively growing out and bulking up high-quality seed stocks of some vegetable varieties. We ask the growers to help us with the process every year. Members of the network do a lot more than just growing seeds. They also carefully observe, assess, and report the way each variety performed through the season. We developed “descriptor forms” to collect this information and feedback, so that we can use it to decide which varieties to grow out the following year.


Elephants and Bees

The third international conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy was held recently, from July 18th to 20th, at Pennsylvania State University. My attendance at the conference was made possible through a Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment Foundation Leadership Grant. Three years ago, the conference focused on the factors responsible for pollinator declines, and in particular on the lethal and sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoid pesticides. This year, it centered on practical solutions, and I'd like to share the fascinating story that Dr. Lucy King brought with her from Kenya, Africa. 


In this issue

How to Grow Garlic from Bulbils

First Nations Farmers and Seeds

Evaluating and Choosing VSPN Varieties

Elephants and Bees

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Seeds of Diversity
1-12 Dupont St W,
Waterloo, ON
N2L 2X6


Growing seed to support your market garden
On-farm organic plant breeding
Wednesday, September 7th; 8th 2016
9 am - 12 pm
Cornell University; Fruition Seeds
Freeville, NY; Canandaigua, NY

Biennial Seed Production
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Whole Circle Farm,
Acton, ON

Seed production in market garden operations
Saugeen River CSA
Thursday, September 19th, 2016 (AM)
Durham, Ontario

Techniques for harvesting and cleaning seeds
Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds
Monday, September 19th, 2016 (PM)
Palmerston, ON

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