The Cygnet Seed Library couldn't operate without the important work of seed stewards - local growers dedicated to growing and saving seed from a particular variety of plant.
They quite literally steward that seed through life, welcoming the seedlings into the world, caring for them into maturity, looking after their every need until they fruit and develop seeds. Seed stewards even go without eating the best fruit of the season so they can save the seeds to share with the community - what legends!
Ed Wykman is one of those wonderful seed stewards. For him it’s about taking back control of food sovereignty, preservation of heritage seeds, nutritionally dense yields, and encouraging people to grow their own food.
This year Ed is stewarding the Scarlet Runner Bean because they’re easy to grow, quick growing and vigorous climbers. He’s expecting a good yield, and likes that they can be eaten green or dried.
Ed and his partner Trish are keen growers based in Glen Huon (43 degrees South). Their property is 2.5 acres of North-facing slope with 300mm reasonable topsoil, then clay.
They receive an annual rainfall upward of 700mm, and are transitioning to biodynamic practices.
So far Ed has propagated the scarlet runner beans in seed trays to be able to control the germination environment, as he hasn’t had great success with direct sowing. He’s still experimenting with different seed raising mixes because “some seeds germinate and then seem to stall” he said.
The seed trays were warmed with heat mats for 3 weeks until the seedlings were 150mm high. The seedlings were then planted out on the 7th of December this year, with compost and biochar.
As insurance against loss, Ed sowed a second generation of the scarlet runner beans on the same day. This will also allow for a staggered harvest and to ensure there will be sufficient beans to eat and save for the seed library.
The 3 lovely ducks roaming the Wykman’s property have caused some problems with initial sowings.
When the time comes to select which beans to save seed from, Ed will be selecting for “health, vigour and size”. He says he’ll harvest the beans, dry them gently for 3 weeks, then store in a cool, dry environment.
Thanks so much for sharing your seed stewardship story with us so far Ed. We’ll have to check back later in the season to see how your beans are growing.