That's All Folks!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The beginning of 2018 sees a change for our family as we will no longer be running our seed company and are focusing on other aspects of our lives. After seventeen years of running Stellar Seeds it is time to move on for us, to seek new challenges and new opportunities for growth and fulfillment in our lives. Thank you to all our customers who have bought seeds from us, shared with us your stories of how they grew for you in your farms and gardens; we've loved receiving your feedback and support over the years.

For 2018 we wish you a year full of realizing your dreams, pushing your limits, and finding satisfaction and enjoyment in the everyday moments of life. Peace, out.

Sharing Seed Knowledge

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sharing information about growing and saving seeds is a natural part of being a seed producer. We always welcome new opportunities to learn from others doing good work around growing, breeding, selecting, and improving seeds. Likewise we teach others about seed growing practices from our personal experience and the accumulated knowledge of many years of growing seeds for our own operation.

This year we're part of a national seed mentorship program organized by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Sovereignty (BFICSS). We're mentoring local organic farmer Michael Silver of Earth Temple Gardens in Argenta, as he tries his hand at a number of different seed crops on his farm. At the same time, we are linked via the internet with a group of other mentor/mentee farmers across the province who are also teaching and learning about seed production practices. We all help each other with questions and ideas about the seed crops we will be growing in 2016.

I've known Michael for a number of years now and he's a natural at producing market crops, and already has a little seed saving experience. I've seen him grow fava and leek seeds in the past couple of years. This season he is expanding his practice and planning to save seed of pole beans, tomatoes, lettuce and rutabaga. I visited his fields this past week and we had a great discussion about his plans as we checked out his crops and his setup. We came up with some suggestions for contingencies in case the rutabagas (a biennial, and trickier to grow) didn't work out.

Here at Kootenay Joe Farm our own seed crops are in the midst of being seeded or transplanted and slowly our seed field is filling up. Our brassica greens like tatsoi, mustard and arugula are sizing up, herbs are slowly pushing out of the ground, beans are seeded and lettuces are moving out of the greenhouse and into the field. We'll post some pictures once things are a little more established. Until then, get out there and make sure your own gardens are getting off to a good start. Spring is early, let's make the most of it!

Planning for the Spring

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Happy New Year! We hope you're enjoying a restful winter break. In fact we hope you're not even thinking about your garden at all, and have turned your attention to all the little things that one never has time for during gardening season. But we all know that with the onset of winter and the mailing of seed catalogues, gardeners begin to think, plan and dream about what the spring might bring.

Browse our selection of organic, open-pollinated seeds and see what we have to offer. It's a nice selection of favourite heirloom varieties as well as some more modern varieties bred for flavour, vigour and adaptability to organic farming and gardening conditions.

All our seeds are grown by local farmers using organic growing methods. We're committed to growing out varieties that add diversity to your gardens and at your kitchen table. Multicoloured vegetables, novel shapes, fantastic flavour, these are all criteria when it comes to the varieties we carry.

Happy planning and dreaming, may you have a great garden in 2016!

Christmas and Holiday Hold on all Seed Orders

Friday, October 16, 2015

Please note that any seed orders received from December 10th and afterwards will be filled commencing in the first week of January, 2016. That's right, we have taken all the Christmas and holiday orders we can for this year, and any new orders will have to wait until 2016. We are on a personal and professional break to enjoy the holiday season with our family. Thanks for visiting our site, and please come back to see our new selection of seeds in 2016. Read below, for our fall update....

It's that time of year again when the fall crops are being harvested from the fields. Our squash crop is in, the garlic is ready for planting, greenhouses are being cleared out, and the first frosts have already brought an end to the season for many of our more tender crops.
We've brought in the seeds from the fields, finished attending the last farmers' market and delivered the final CSA veggie boxes. It really feels like a time to slow down a bit and enjoy the dry, sunny fall weather. We're doing just that, and taking a breather before beginning to think about the upcoming winter and all the seed packing and distribution that is the basis of our winter work here at Stellar Seeds.
We hope you're enjoying your fall season as well. Keep us in mind when planning your gardens and fields in 2016. We're here to bring you a wonderful selection of locally grown, organic, open-pollinated seeds.

Empower Your Flower. Just Eat It!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Edible flowers are a great addition to your summer garden. Easy to grow and a delight to the eye, they're fresh and fun and add a creative touch to your meals. The list of flowers that work well as food is long, and might include some that you wouldn't think of. For example, the flowers of many herbs are fully edible, and have flavours reminiscent of the culinary herbs they come from. Some edible herb flowers include chive, savoury, chervil, dill, basil, chamomile and fennel. Herb flowers are particularly good paired with meat dishes. Picking the flowers when young and in the early bloom stage ensures they are tender and full of flavour and aroma. As the flowers age, they will get tougher and drier. I recently learned that young sunflower buds can be steamed and served like globe artichokes. Now who doesn't want to try that?!

Some of the most common garden vegetables also produce delicious edible flowers. The entire brassica family is notable for this. Mustard, broccoli, tatsoi, arugula, bekana and mizuna are all examples of brassica plants that produce delicious flower shoots. They can be picked in the early bud stage, or at full flower. If you've never seen these plants in flower it's because they are usually picked in their vegetative stage for typical culinary use. Leave a few plants to grow a little longer in the garden however, and you will soon see the flower shoots emerge. That's when you'll discover a new world of edible flower possibilities.

The squash family is also notable for it's edible flowers. Be sure to leave female flowers to be pollinated and bear fruit, but feel free to harvest many of the male flowers and use them in a number of ways. While in Mexico, where squash blossoms have been on the diet for centuries, I had opportunity to try them as stuffed and lightly battered fried blossoms, as well as in quesadillas where they were paired with another traditional Mexican delicacy, corn smut. Still not sure how to prepare those squash blossoms? Here's some ideas,

By far the most common edible flowers, however, come from favourite garden ornamentals like calendula, bachelor buttons, marigold, borage or nasturtium. And that's just for starters. Edible flowers are great for enhancing the appeal of just about any dish you serve. They're beautiful to look at and come in a range of interesting shapes, tastes and textures. They're equally good as part of an entree, salad or dessert, or just as a garnish. Some are used fresh, others can be dried and used like a culinary herb. Make sure you only eat flowers from your own (or a trusted friend's) organic garden, as otherwise you might unwittingly eat traces of pesticide.

Have we convinced you yet? Stellar Seeds carries a range of edible flower seeds, and to make it easy we have two great edible flower collections to choose from. Our Edible Herb Flower Collection and our Edible Flower Collection. Look for them under the "Seed Collections" tab of our website. Plant some today and empower your flower! They're not just to look at.

Is Growing Amaranth a Revolutionary Act?

Sunday, January 04, 2015

This year we grew amaranth at our farm for the first time, but certainly not the last. The sheer weirdness of the seedheads, the variance in shape, size and colour are enough to get any plant lover razzed up. They look like multi-fingered, multi-pronged jester hats sitting atop tall, leafy stalks that will instantly remind you of it's weedy counterpart, that old garden nemesis Pigweed. Luckily this plant is friendly to a fault. It grows quickly and easily, and is simple to harvest as well. Baby leaves are tender enough to eat in salads. Mature leaves are an excellent cooked green - use them as you would chard, spinach or kale. The ripe seeds are easily threshed and can be cooked similiarly to quinoa, boiled into a nutritious porridge, or popped on a skillet like popcorn. Oh, did I mention that each plant contains approximately half a million seeds in that seed head? Friendly to a fault, indeed.

Amaranth fits in well with all the talk of superfoods and nutrient dense foods we speak of today. The seeds contain 30% more protein than rice or sorghum, for example. It's gluten free! Let me repeat, it's gluten free! I don't actually care, but you might. Any plant that has edible leaves, roots, stems and seeds and is as nutritious as Amaranth deserves a place in your garden and on your table. So grow some this year. We have two great varieties on offer. Don't choose, grow them both.

Growing it may cause feelings of rebelliousness and dissension. That's because the cultivation of this plant was once outlawed in Mexico by the conguering Spanish, who feared the revered place it held in Aztec culture. Some estimates suggest Amaranth supplied 80% of the caloric intake of pre-contact Aztecas. That has my head spinning! It's definately not as prominent in our diets today, or even a contemporary Aztec diet, but it sure deserves a chance to make it into some of your favourite recipes. Buen provecho!

The hidden pleasures of seed - bucketfuls of glory at harvest time!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Well, it's that time of the year again. We've moved from the fields to the office, and we're busy doing germination tests of the current crop of seeds, busy printing labels and getting seeds into packets, busy updating websites, and busy blogging and talking about all the great seeds we have to share with you in 2015.

And do we ever! We've got lots of our standards - varieties you've loved and we've loved for years now because they look great, taste great and perform great. They are the backbone of our seed offerings each year. But we also have lots of new varieties, grown by ourselves and the awesome organic farmers who also supply our seed company. That's one of the pleasures of seed. There is such a wealth of choice in our agricultural biodiversity; and farmers' can't stop themselves from wanting to explore it and figure out what is truly outstanding. And once we figure that kind of thing out, it's only natural, we want to save seed of it and share it with you. Why? So your gardens and farm fields can be filled with some of the most interesting varieties, unique flavours, shapes and colours, and best performing crops you can grow.

Check back with us over the next few weeks as we update our website with the new seed listings for 2015. It's kind of like an online advent calendar for seed geeks. We promise to highlight both some of the veggies we're offering this year, and the farmers who grew the seed.

For now, back to the seed packaging...

Seeds for all Seasons - 2014 seeds ready for you!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Now that the Christmas and Yule celebrations are behind us, and seed catalogues are arriving at your door, many of you are already starting to think about next summer's gardens. It's only natural, as we sit back in the comfort of our warm homes to begin dreaming of all the bounty next summer will bring. There's always something new to try your hand at in the garden, and always some different variety to think of marketing at the farm stall.

We've got a great selection of locally grown and adapted seeds for you that will thrive in your organic fields and gardens. They've been grown for you by our team of BC farmers, who you can read about at our "Growers" page. Of course, our seeds are all open-pollinated varieties, so that you can save your own seeds if you choose. Be sure to get seed-saving tips at our "Resources" page where you can watch how-to videos or download our Seed Production manual.

We wish you all the best with your endeavors in field and garden in 2014. Thank you for supoorting local seed growers and for choosing Stellar Seeds.

Updating website

Friday, December 20, 2013

We are currently working on updating our website with the fresh seeds that will be available in 2014. The catalogue is printed and will be mailed out shortly. Orders placed now will be filled starting mid-Jan. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy and safe holiday season!

Reflections on the Season

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Well, another season has passed in a blur, as usual. This summer saw ups and downs, as most of our seasons do, as we continue to recover from the landslide that devastated our small community in 2012, continue to develop this piece of land into a working farm, and adapt to farming with a toddler.

Our community in Johnson's Landing has continued to work hard this year to get back to where we were before the massive landslide in 2012. In a lot of ways, we're back to where we were before the slide. One big way the slide continues to affect is that we still don't have a permanent water system in place to supply the affected properties. As farmers, who rely on a secure access to water for our income, this has been a little scary for us. Fortunately, our community came to decision late this summer about a water source to use and should be on it at some point next summer. Whew, that's a weight off our shoulders!

We learned some hard lessons this year. We learned we can't farm here the way we were in Sorrento, BC. Our fields are very rocky and have really low fertility. Since we've come to this decision, we are experimenting with new ways of growing our crops and working our fields. We added various amendments throughout the season and planted cover crop in areas not planted in production to try and increase fertility and organic matter in our soil. We're experimenting with other ways to work our fields besides using a tiller (which doesn't work in our rocky fields) and coming up with new solutions that are working for us. It was hard for us to admit we had to change the way we farm, but now that we've come to that realization, we're steadily working towards finding solutions.

This summer was also the first summer we tried farming with our son. Luckily, he loves being outside and we were able get quite a bit done with him, with frequent strawberry, raspberry and wagon ride breaks. But, by the end of the season, he has helping harvest some of our crops and always made being in the field an adventure.

This summer saw a big growth in our production of fresh produce. We focused on selling produce at 2 local grocery stores in Kaslo, as well as attending the Kaslo Saturday Market weekly with a large variety of produce. We have hopes and dreams to expand our fresh produce production even more, such as deliveries to the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson and possibly a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in partnership with another farmer in Johnson's Landing.

Patrick was very involved in a study with 3 other BC farmers of how to produce viable carrot seed in high tunnels to isolate it from Queen Ann's Lace, which readily crosses with it. It was a huge learning curve, but he has learned a lot and is looking forward to continuing the study next year to make improvements and work towards producing high quality carrot seed in area with Queen Ann's Lace.

We are currently working on getting our farm ready for winter, finishing off cleaning our seeds, working on a catalogue (we're offering a full catalogue again this year) and returning our focus solely to Stellar Seeds for the winter. Even though our days are still busy, it feels much calmer on the farm and we're enjoying a bit of "quieter" time as we reflect back on this season and look forward to our busy seed selling season this winter.