New Farm Correspondence: Prince George Vegetable Trials

One of the goals of New Farm Development Initiative is connect new farmers in the region with training opportunities and knowledgeable mentors. As part of this goal, we offer support to new farm correspondents who wish to attend and travel to agriculture industry events. These correspondents assist us in linking to information and contacts available in our region and beyond and provide valuable insight into the value of attending such events.

Dave Rempel is a Master Gardener who  has lived in Prince George for thirty years. He grew up in the Fraser Valley’s Sumas Prairie, tending the family garden and working for raspberry farms . When he relocated to Prince George, he bought a small two-acre piece of property towards Tabor Lake. He had always envisioned building a garden on this property, but quickly learned that cold temperatures, clay soils, and buried refuse would made succesful gardening a challenge.

In 2008, Dave completed his Master Gardener certificate at UNBC. As a teacher by trade, he has contributed many volunteer hours to expanding the love of fresh food in the Prince George community through workshops and lectures for the home vegetable gardener. His Master Gardener training inspired him to collect data on his own gardening trials. On January 8, 2014 he shared his love of garden vegetables to a crow of 30 avid gardeners at UNBC who were eager to learn of his successes growing food. The event was hosted by the David Douglas Botantical Garden Society as part of their Weed-Free Lecture Series.

Dave began his lecture by warning the audience that his experiments and vegetable trials are not scientific in nature. He had done his best to standardize major variables in his tests, but nature, not the labratory, stills runs his garden. As such, the vegetable trials he ran from 2009 on should provide a platform for discussion more than definitive results.

The primary goal for Dave in documenting his garden results was to measure success in the following areas:

  1. good vigour – healthy and disease free
  2. early-maturing – important for a cold climate
  3. longevity – plants don’t bolt to quickly
  4. yield – how much of teh good stuff do you get?

Dave also expressed a preference for open-pollianted varieties of seed

Here are Dave’s results

Broad Beans

Dave only tested Witkiem Harvest and Windsor for one year. In that year, the Windsor plants grew much larger but the Witkiem had a better yield. Dave commented that he wouldn’t likely test that broad beans again as they take up to much space in the garden for the amount of vegetable they yield.

Bush Beans

Dave planted several varieties of bush beans but teh results were very mixed. Others in the audience had their own suggestions for bush beans varieties. In the end, the bush bean varieties that received positive recognition were Tema, Provider, Delinel, Strike and Igloo.

Pole Beans

Dave planted Nekar Konigin pole beans and Aintree Scarlett Runners

Beets

Dave expressed a personal interest in yellow beets, which never seem to perform as the red beets, but he can’t help but love the beautiful colour they exhibit in canning, and yellow beets that don’t bleed. Dave planted several but most recommends Touchstone Gold and to some extent, Golden Detroit

Brussel Sprouts

Dave’s brussel sprout experiemnets had mixed results. in 2010 hybrid varieties Jade Cross, Bubbles and Oliver excelled compared to open pollinated varieties Catskill and Long Island, which were too slow to mature, but in 2011 the Jade Cross and Catskill both did well

Kohlrabi

Dave recommneds Giant Purple, Giant White and the Superschmeltz varieties. Vienna White and Vienna Purple typically went woody very quickly. Kongo was early-maturing.

Leeks

Jolant consistently performed as a summertime leek and Hannibals were good storage leeks

Spinach

All varieties of spinach seem to bolt quickly in our region due to day lengths, but seeding spinach in August can yeiled a good fall harvest

Swiss Chard

Fordhook Giant produced the largest leaves,while Silverado produced the smallest. Bright Lights performed the best in poor soil and light conditions