How to Save Tomato Seeds
Slideshow: Saving Your Favourite Tomatoes for Next Season

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 26, 2019

If you enjoy eating tomatoes ripe from your garden, consider saving the seed of some of this season’s harvest for next year. Saving tomato seeds is easy. The basic rule is to choose heirloom and open-pollinated tomatoes for seed saving rather than hybrids, because cross-mated hybrid tomatoes will not produce true copies.

In nature, fruits such as tomatoes ferment before detaching their seeds from the pulp. If you want to save tomato seeds, you need to “wet process” the seeds in much the same way nature does. (Article continues below slideshow.)

Slideshow: Step-by-Step How to Save Your Own Tomato Seeds


Choose a ripe, healthy, open-pollinated tomato for seed saving. This is a Stupice tomato.
Cut the tomato and scoop the seeds, gel and juice into a cup.
Add 1/2 cup of filtered water and let the tomato gel set for 3 days to ferment.
As it ferments, the mixture becomes cloudy and the seeds come loose from the jelly.
After 3 days, pour off any mould and floating seeds and capture the rest with a strainer.
Rinse the seeds under running water.
The tomato seeds should be as free from the gel as possible.
Dump the seeds onto a paper towel and spread them out.
When the seeds are completely dry, save them in a sealed container for planting.
Choose a ripe, healthy, open-pollinated tomato for seed saving. This is a Stupice tomato.

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Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
Slideshow: Flowers and Herbs that Draw Pollinators to the Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 1, 2019

Beneficial insects can be a gardener’s best resource for protecting crops against destructive pests. Beneficials include pollinators, predators and parasites. By attracting a large enough population of helpful bugs to counteract plant damaging insects, you can keep your garden healthy using nature’s method of pest control. Planting flowers and herbs that build habitat for beneficial insects also helps make your garden resilient to climate change.

White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.
Hyssop is one of the best plants for attracting pollinators like butterflies, bees and hover flies. Strong-scented hyssop repels white cabbage butterflies by masking the smell of brassicas nearby with its aroma. Related members of the Labiatae family, including mint, lemon balm, cat nip, pennyroyal are excellent attractors of tachinid flies, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Dill and members of the Apiaceae family such as fennel, parsley, coriander, lovage, angelica and flowering carrots are powerful attractors of beneficial lady bugs, parasitic wasps, hover flies, tachinid flies, lacewings—all useful for controlling garden pests.
Yarrow is a good perennial for natural pest protection. The tiny yarrow flowers attract bees, aphid-eating lady bugs, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Calendula (pot marigold) and other marigolds draw pollinating bees and butterflies to the garden. They also attract protective hover flies, lady bugs, and parasitic wasps. The older varieties of marigolds have stronger aromas. Calendula and French marigolds can repel nematodes.
Bee balm, bergamot, and other members of the <em>Monarda</em> genus attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and hover flies, as well as hummingbirds.
Nasturtium, with its showy orange and yellow flowers, is an old garden standby known for its protective qualities. This bright flower attracts pollinators as well as pest-fighters.
Before you pull your weeds, consider— dandelions and other flowering weeds draw beneficial insects to the garden early in the spring before other flowers have a chance to bloom. Dandelions also provide early pollen to bees.
White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.

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Protecting Mother Nature at the Ballot Box
How Ordinary People Rewrote the Laws to Protect Nature

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 7, 2019

Earlier this year, a group of people showed how quickly ordinary citizens could rewrite laws to protect nature and transition to sustainable farming. It took just four months.

Bavaria’s Campaign to Save the Bees

A bumblebee pollinates a flower - Protecting Mother Nature at the Ballot Box
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Green Pea Dip with Parmesan

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 2, 2019


If you want to add more plant-based protein foods to your diet, green pea dip is a simple, nutritious choice. This fresh, light dip is an alternative to chickpea hummus, and is high in protein, minerals and vitamins.

A bowl of bright green pea dip, a fresh light appetizer or spread. Green Pea and Parmesan Dip.Green pea dip makes a good appetizer or a lunch spread, and is a stand-out at dinner parties with its amazing bright colour.

You can make green pea dip with frozen peas, or with fresh shelled peas from the garden. If using fresh, it takes about three pounds of peas in the pod to produce three cups of shelled peas.

Peas, once out of their pods, begin to lose their natural sweetness and become more starchy. So, unless you use them just after shelling, they will lose some of their sweet flavour. Luckily, because frozen peas are quickly chilled just after shelling, they retain their natural sugars and work perfectly in this recipe.
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A Low-Carbon Citrus Greenhouse in Canada
Growing Subtropical Fruit with Minimal Inputs for Heat, Water and Nutrients

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 7, 2019

On Salt Spring Island, in Canada’s Pacific maritime climate, oranges and avocados flourish in an innovative, energy-conserving greenhouse. The subtropical fruit greenhouse, called simply “The Garden,” uses renewable energy, thermal mass, nutrient cycling, and rainwater harvesting to grow citrus fruits with minimal inputs. (Article continues below video.)

Video: Growing a Sustainable Citrus Garden in Canada

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Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic
Surprising Pesticide Levels From Eating Conventional Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 24, 2019

Is eating organic worth it? A new study in the journal Environmental Research says yes. The research, conducted on four families across the United States, offers a snapshot of how pesticides in our food accumulate in our bodies.

Video: Organic for All  (from Friends of the Earth Action)

The Test: Conventional vs. Organic Diet

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Did Cooking Make Us Smarter?
The Recipe for Improved Intelligence

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 21, 2019

What did the advent of cooking bring to human development? Scientific evidence suggests cooking our food may have made us more intelligent.

Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania where humans evolved. Did cooking make us human?

Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania

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Bringing Back Ancient Grains and Seeds
Growing Old World Grains in Gardens and on Small Farms

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 17, 2019

Ancient grains are making a comeback, as farmers, millers, artisan bakers and diners seek them out for their exceptional flavour, nutrition, and low-gluten content.

The heritage wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and flax at Dan Jason’s farm come in many colours. In August, at Salt Spring Seeds, the fields shimmer with blue, gold, and purple seeds and grains. Not the kind you’d see on the large industrial farms of the prairies, but old world varieties that grow today much as they did thousands of years ago. (Article continues below video.)

Video: Bringing Back Ancient Grains & Seeds

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Oh No, Not the Beer!
Barley, Hops, and the Future of Beer

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 6, 2019

Beer lovers take note: barley a key ingredient in beer is in trouble around the world.

Glass of Beer. Oh No, Not the Beer: Barley, Hops, and the Future of Beer.A recent article in Nature Plants warns that increasing episodes of extreme drought and heat due to climate warming will cause a decrease in world barley production. Today, beer is brewed most commonly from partially germinated (malted) barley. To find out about the effects of climate change on beer, researchers modeled the effects of more frequent droughts and heat waves on 23 barley-growing regions around the world. Under the worst case conditions, barley yields would decrease by 17% and beer prices would double on average.

In bartender speak, low barley supply means less brew to satisfy the world’s surging thirst for this popular beverage. Beer is the third most consumed liquid after water and tea, and the most popular alcoholic drink in the world. So rising costs for this valuable drink will quickly become visible to consumers.

How Beer Got Started

Farming began 10,000 years ago with the domestication of wild wheats and barley. As these grains became the food mainstay, early farmers discovered grain fermentation, and the resulting alcoholic drink we call beer. By the time the pyramids were under construction in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago, the workers were paid in vegetables, grain, and alcohol. In 2017 the world produced approximately 140 million tons of barley, 20% of which goes for brewing beer.

Although well adapted to a wide range of climates, barley prefers temperate regions such as the northern prairies of North America. Barley does not like extreme heat and drought, which brings us to climate change…
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Colourful Scalloped Potatoes

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 25, 2018

This scalloped potato recipe celebrates the diverse colours and flavours of the much loved, yet humble potato. Red, yellow, blue and white potatoes add colour and nuanced taste to this potato classic. Make with any combination of potato colours and varieties. Topped with cheese, scalloped potatoes are a traditional favourite for special dinners and prepare-ahead entertaining.

Serves 6
Baking time: 1 hour
Colourful Scalloped Potatoes recipe. Sliced red, yellow and blue potatoes in a baking dish.6 to 8 potatoes of varied colours (red, yellow, blue, white), thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
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How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture in BC
Investing in British Columbia’s Food Security

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 22, 2018

British Columbia is facing an agricultural crisis. Sixty percent of farmers in BC are over age 55, and the new young generation of farmers cannot take over.

At the same time as baby boom era farmers are retiring, speculation has driven the price of farmland higher than the ability of new farmers to buy it. Unless we find a way to make most of the farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve affordable, and to grow enough food on it, we can expect to permanently rely on imports to feed ourselves. Two recent projects suggest a way forward for BC.

Farmland in BC. How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in BC.
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