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Back to December 2015 Newsletter

A Sneak Peek of VSPNís 2016 Varieties

Paul Hrycyk

The first year of our Vegetable Seed Producers Network (VSPN) is complete, and we are excited about continuing and expanding our efforts to build up farm-scale amounts of high-quality Canadian vegetable seeds over the coming months.  We will be adding several new varieties to the VSPN seed list for 2016. We have chosen these varieties for performance, uniqueness and demand. So far, we’ve added two more squash varieties (a Curcubita maxima and Curcubita moschata), two kales, an eggplant, a radish, and a beet, and we’ll continue to refine this list over the next few months. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the varieties on our growing list.

Olympic red kale, an open-pollinated bunching kale cross between Red Russian and Lacinato, was a top performer in High Mowing Seeds’ variety trials and exhibited superior cold hardiness. This variety is vigorous, easy to overwinter and has resistance to downy mildew. As kale continues to grow in popularity and demand, growers will appreciate its tall (24-30"), uniform and open habit, which makes it easy to harvest.

Kamo eggplant has a creamier and more delicate texture than other varieties of eggplant. Its unique, thin skinned and purple to nearly black fruits are round and frequently exceed a pound in weight. Unlike many other eggplant varieties which need consistent heat, Kamo’s short plants come into production quite quickly and are tolerant of cooler temperatures. The fruits mature in 65 days and are sought after for their amazing flavour.

Yokohama squash (the C. moschata variety) has been described as “chunks of lava growing in the garden” and its texture and form are beautiful. This squash will catch the eye of the curious market goer but its complex and slightly honeyed flavour, described by some as the sweetest winter squash around, is its main selling point. Yokohama reaches maturity in 100 days and is resistant to borers and powdery mildew. It also stores well and keeps its flavour until spring. Yokohama squash seed is not easy to find, but with the help of VSPN members, we’ll have a local supply by the end of 2016.

When we were searching for a radish variety to add to the list, we were determined to find an open pollinated variety that exhibited heat tolerance and could handle the warmer summer temperatures. Our two front runners  are Sora, which is not too difficult to find a source for, and a much rarer variety named yellow carrot rooted radish (sometimes called yellow carrot shaped), a variety we have in our seed library. The lack of information and rarity of the yellow carrot rooted variety makes it a good candidate to preserve and build up, but with only 63 seeds in our starting stock, it may take us some time to grow, monitor, record and increase its seed supply.

To see a full list of our 2016 varieties, or to get more information on the work the VSPN is doing, contact us at The VSPN is a growing source of information and skill development, and continues to connect growers across Ontario. There is still time to get involved in this program, and join in next year's workshops and networking opportunities to further develop your seed production abilities.


This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of Growing Forward 2 in Ontario.



Paul Hrycyk is the coordinator of the Vegetable Seed Producers Network (VSPN).

Photo: Kamo Nasu (Kamo eggplant), 305 Seahill, CC BY-ND 2.0. 



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