What is the Peace Corps Paraguay Seed Bank?

The objectives of the Seed Bank are:
1. To provide Paraguayans access to non-hybrid seeds (of green manures, trees, garden & field crops, etc.) that they cannot otherwise afford or find locally;
2. To promote sustainability through seed-saving;
3. To operate sustainably by making loans of seed (at 10% interest rate) through Peace Corps Volunteers; and
4. To ultimately help seed other local and regional seed banks throughout Paraguay.

Seed Bank Blog Information

How do PCVs & Chokokuekuera contribute to this blog?
- Anyone wishing to share experiences or information may send the author of this blog the content they wish to have posted. Please send photos along with your content. The email address to send your posts to is: seedbankpcpy@gmail.com

How is blog intended to help those interested?
- This blog is intended to be a resource for everyone planting and seed saving around Paraguay. The seed bank committee will also use blog gather information helpful to its continued success and the success of its members.

What are the key areas and goals of this blog?
1. Communication and Information Sharing
2. Information Gathering
3. Providing Resources and Useful Links
4. A Guide to Seed Saving as a Part of a Sustainable Livelihood System

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Garden Seed Review from Mystery PCV

I was handed a sheet of results for various garden seeds from the seed bank at the last NVAC meeting and for the life of me I can't remember who it was. So if this is you take some recognition because this is some great info!

Seed Bank Garden Seeds
Green Arrow Pea - Cultivated in Winter of '08 and grew well
Watermelon Moon and Stars - Cultivated in Summer of '08 and grew well
Watermelon Sugar Baby - Cultivated in Summer of '08-09 and grew well
Black Hungarion Pepper - Cultivated in Summer of '08 and grew well
Big Top Carrot - Cultivated in Summer of '09 and failed, probably due to poor soil quality or infected seeds
Nautes Half-long Carrot - Cultivated in Summer of '09 and failed, probably due to poor soil or infected seeds
Early Silver Line Melon - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and grew well
Early Golden Crook-neck - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and failed, insect problems and couldn't produce fruit
Summer Squash Early Prolific Straight-neck - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and failed, insect problems and couldn't produce fruit
Armenian Cucumber - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and failed, insect problems and couldn't produce fruit
Golden Zuchinni - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and failed, insect problems and couldn't produce fruit
Woods Prolific Brush Scallian - Cultivated in Fall/Summer '09 and failed, due to drought NDOKYSEI!!!
Sibley's Squash - Cultivated in Summer '08-09 and failed, due to insect problems
Triamble Squash - Cultivated in Summer '09 and failed, due to insect problems
Galivex Squash - Cultivated in Fall of '08 and failed, due to insect problems

Editor's Note:
I have found that starting even the large direct planting seeds, like squash, in almacigos can really help the plants get going. This is especially effective during a drought or if you garden is falta a little avono. Almacigos can be planted with a disproportionate ammount of avono soil to normal soil.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Hello to Everyone!!

This is blog that I have created to serve the members of the seed bank committee and anyone else that may be interested. I hope that this functions well and everyone is able to use it as a resource. If you wish to be able to post directly onto the blog you can do so by signing up with a google blogger account and I will invite you to be an author. In order to do this I will need your email, please send it to: seedbankpcpy@gmail.com.

On the side of the blog there is a list of links, one of the links is to my personal blog following specifically my ag work during my service. If anyone else has useful websites or a blog that they would like to share please send the link to the email address already listed.

G28 Potrero Garay

Seed Saving Instructions

· If your seed packet has seed-saving instructions, follow them!
· Save seed from plants that are healthy and free of pests, and have desirable characteristics you want to preserve for future generations.
· Choose the best plants to be seed producers and avoid harvesting leaves or fruits to eat from them.
· After harvesting, store seed in a cool dry place (fridge) until you plant it.
· The following vegetables all belong to the species Brassica olearacea, and will CROSS if flowering at the same time: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Collard greens. Likewise Beets and Swiss Chard belong to the species Beta vulgaris and can also cross if flowering at the same time.

Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, Broccoli, Radish, Most herbs, Beans, Peas, Okra: Wait for plant to flower then set seed. Harvest seed when seed heads are brown and dry.

Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Beets: These are biennials, and need 2 growing seasons to complete their life cycle. In Paraguay, they should eventually flower and set seed after a long time.

Tomato, Peppers, Hard shell Winter Squash, Melons: Wait for peppers to turn fully red and soften. The mature edible fruit of these plants contains mature seed. Wash and dry seed.

Cucumbers, Eggplant, Zucchini: Allow the edible fruit to stay on the plant to fully mature… When eggplants yellow and shrivel, scrape seeds out, wash and dry. Harvest cucumber seed when fruits are hard and yellow, but before they rot. Zucchinis will harden and begin to dry out when seeds are mature.

¡ More detailed seed saving and planting instructions are on Sharepoint in the Seed Bank folder!

Making friends with IFN: Easy Treezy!

Amanda Fuller
G19 Environmental Education

The Instituto Forestal Nacional (ex-SFN, Servicio Forestal Nacional) has their central office and vivero in San Lorenzo. But you don’t have to go there if you want tree seedlings! You can get up to 300 free tree seedlings, natives or non-natives, from one of their local offices in the following towns:

All departmental capitals (except Ñeembucú);
In 2o Dept. San Pedro, there are 2 offices, in Santani and Santa Rosa;
In 5 o Dept. Caaguazú, there are 2 offices in Caaguazú and Coronel Oviedo; and
There are also 2 offices in Canindeyú. Wherever that is.

What you do:
- Write a letter asking for trees for arborización. The IFN expressly does not make donations for reforestations, because that’s a lot of trees. The trees they donate are for your schools, streets, canchas, puestos de salud, capillas, wherever you and your peeps need a little shade.
- You can ask for natives or non-natives, but you can’t ask for all the same kind of tree. Give them a list of several species you’d like to have. If you don’t know, check the new & improved Los Árboles Más Utilizados for some ideas! It’ll be on SharePoint en seguida and in the hot little hands of the G28 Environmental Sector.
- Visit your local office, smile and shake hands and drop off your pedido. Best hours to visit are in the morning, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Come back in a week or more to get your trees. The nice fellow in Santani told me they are open half a day Friday, and then go to Asunción to get whatever trees they need, and then are in the central office Monday and back in the Santani office Tuesday.

Don’t forget the compost!
The staff at the IFN offices may also provide asistencia técnica, and may be willing to come out to your community to do charlas and whatnot. They might charge you for it, however. (Sin comentario).

Seed Savers Review

Douglas Stephens G25
November 2008

Last fall I was lucky enough to be at Justin Mog and Amanda Fuller’s house when the first shipment of donated garden seeds arrived from Seed Savers Exchange on their way to the Peace Corps Seed Bank. Before being brought to Asunción I shamelessly borrowed some prized seeds. The results:

Green Arrow Pea

This is an English Pea variety very well suited to colder climates and is a good winter crop. Though billed as a climbing pea, mine grew no taller than 2+ feet in stature. Production was modest. Each plant gave a sizable number of pods which all ripened within days of each other. The plants produced only once before dying, though the culprit could just as easily have been the series of long hot spells this winter rather than the pea variety itself. The most striking aspect about this plant is its durability. A particularly violent storm felled a dead tree, which collapsed on my garden. Both the tree and part of the fence landed squarely on the peas and gave them a thorough thrashing, ripping them off of the trellis. They took it like a champion whipping boy and continued to grow and produce seemingly as if nothing had happened.

Overall Rating: Fair

Indian Climbing Spinach

This strange vine is technically not a spinach, though its leaves have a similar flavor and can be used in the same manner. Slow to grow at first the young plants are susceptible to ants and caterpillars, but once established they are hearty and virtually untouched by pests. You can start harvesting leaves as soon as they are 2-3 inches long, even if the plant only has 6 leaves. From the base of almost every plucked leaf grows a new vine. This results in a messy, tasty and impressive looking plant. I highly recommend a good climbing structure. The leaves themselves are thick and can be waxy. The tastiest leaves are the smallest new sprouts.
Harvested a few leaves at a time this plant has a very long life. I’ve been eating it in salads and stir-fry for nearly 5 months. Seeds are produced in copious amounts in cones of dark red berries that sprout from the stem of each leaf. Cuttings can be replanted (though I haven’t tried it myself). A warm weather crop, it did surprisingly well in the winter and I expect it well perform even better this summer.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Red Cap Mushroom Pepper

Another summer crop from India, this hot pepper was rated a very spicy 4 on a 0-5 scale for hotness. This, of course, got me very excited. But, for the life of me, I cannot get it to germinate or keep the tiny sprout from being devoured by ants. I urge someone with a greener thumb than mine to give it a go (and then give me a plantita).

Overall Rating: Poor

Musicbox Sunflowers

Another disappointment, these flowers germinated well but, in spite of venenos caseros, were devoured by bichos before they were fully established.

Overall Rating: Poor