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Monday, February 9, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Seeds

One of the joys of planting edibles from seed is the opportunity to try new and unique varieties from year to year with a minimal amount of risk or investment. Interestingly enough, new and unique often means going back to old, lost varieties or what's commonly referred to as heirlooms.

Heirloom Herbs and Vegetables

Heirloom plants are generally though of as old-time varieties of vegetables that come true from seed. That means that they're open-pollinated, identified by the letters (OP) so you can usually save seed from your plants every year for the following year's garden. An good explanation of Heirloom can be found at Renees Garden Seeds.

In this post, we'll showcase 10 heirloom herbs and vegetables that you should consider trying in your edible garden for 2015.

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beet is a striking Italian Heritage variety with light-red, smooth, round roots and bright pink and white alternating rings inside. Chioggia has very sweet flesh (raw or cooked), mild green leaves and stems striped like candy canes. Matures in 65 days. OP. Certified Organic. Approximately 100 seeds per pack. Buy Online

Mama's Cannellini Heirloom Pole Beans

Mamas Cannellini Heirloom Pole Bean Seeds produce white coloured beans that can be dried and are prized for smooth, meaty texture and nutty flavour. Classic minestrone bean. Heirloom variety. Don't plant too early - wait till late spring. March through June is a good time. Sow seeds 4 inches aprat and 1 inch deep. Will germinate in 7-10 days. Full sun. Harvest in approximately 85-92 days. Buy Online

Sugar Daddy Peas

Sugar Daddy Peas are the first truly stringless sugar pod peas. 8cm long, deep green coloured pods form on 61cm vines. Resists powdery mildew and pea leaf roll virus. Plant in full in early spring for first crop, in late summer for a second crop. Sow seeds 5cm apart in double rows spaced 15 cm apart. Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.  Harvest in 65 days. Buy Online

Garden Rainbow Heirloom Chard

Garden Rainbow Heirloom Chard seeds produce vigorous and long-lasting chard with crunchy colourful stalks and crinkled leaves. Takes 7-10 days to germinate. Certified Organic. Full sun. Harvest in approximately 50 days. Begin harvestings when plants are well established and have at least 6-8 leaves. Both stalks and leaves make great eating. Chop and steam or sauté with garlic and olive oil. Use like Spinach in lasagna or minestrone soup. try tasty chard leaves stuffed and poached in broth with a dash of olive oil and fresh lemon. Buy Online

Old German Tomatoes

Old German Tomato Seeds produce a sweet and delicious heirloom tomato variety from a Virginia Mennonite community circa mid-1800s. Like a Caribbean Sunset with variegated red and gold colours. Complements any dish with a gorgeous splash of colour. Indeterminate variety. Harvest in 80 days. OP. Full sun. Approximately 205 seeds per pack. Buy Online

Jericho Heirloom Romaine Lettuce

Jericho Heirloom Romaine Lettuce Seeds produce full heads of sword-shaped upright leaves with a delicious juicy crunch. Heat tolerant variety. For a constant supply, make several sowings a few weeks apart until summer weather turns hot. Plant again in late summer for fall harvest. Lettuce thrives in cool conditions with consistent moisture. Weed, water and be sure to thin carefully. Certified Organic. Plant in full sun, add shade as the season gets hotter to extend the harvest. Germinates in 7-14 days. Harvest in 60-65 days. Buy Online

Summer Feast Heirloom Tomatoes

Summer Feast Heirloom Tomato Seeds are a luscious, widely adapted trio of treasured heirlooms. Medium-sized, richly flavoured Black Krim is from the Russian Black Sea area. It is the most reliable and delicious of the black tomatoes. Sweet Persimmon is a big, meaty globe-shaped fruits that ripen to a beautiful glowing orange. Deep-red, lobed and heavy with juice, Costoluto is a traditional Italian favourite for fresh eating. Seeds in the pack are colour coded. Pink seeds = Costoluto, Green Seeds = Persimmon, Undyed Seed = Black Krim. For best results with tomatoes use Bonemeal or similar product containing calcium and plant in full sun. Water regularly and consistently. Harvest in approximately 80 days. Buy Online

Super Rapini Heirloom Broccoli Raab

Super Rapini Broccoli Raab is also known as cima di rapa, or Rapini. It is a robust and rich tasting traditional Italian heirloom and a quick growing cool season favourite. Broccoli Raab produces an abundance of deep green leaves and tender shoots topped with tiny bud clusters. Enjoy these full flavoured greens sauteed in olive oil and garlic as Italian food lovers have for time immemorial. We import our Sessentina seed selection directly from Italy, so you can rely on its freshness and authenticity. Full sun. Germinates in approximately 7-10 days. Harvest in approximately 60 days. Buy Online

Chinese Giant Sweet Peppers

Chinese Giant Sweet Peppers are an Heirloom variety with huge 10-15cm bell-type green to red coloured fruits. Plants grow to 61cm. First introduced in 1900. Start indoors in a warm well-lit area 8 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. Keep seedlings moist. Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days at 24-27c. Before transplanting, move the sheltered area outside for a week. Full Sun. Harvest in 80 days. Buy Online

Wild Garden Frills Heirloom Russian Kale

Wild Russian Heirloom Kale is an especially tender, mild and simply delicious Siberian heirloom with blue-green frilled leaves. Highly nutritious, long-standing, weather tolerant and wonderfully ornamental. An equal part mix of Wild Red and Green Russian Kales. Sow in ground as soon as ground can be worked in spring. Prepare a well-drained, fertile garden bed in the full sun. Harvest in 48 days. Begin harvesting outer leaves when plants have 6-8 leaves. Vitamin rich kale is delicious in hearty winter stews and sautes, or braise the beautiful leaves with garlic and olive oil in traditional Mediterranean style. Pull and discard once plants begin to bloom since the leaves of flowering stalks get tough and bitter. Sow again in late summer for another cold-hardy crop. Buy Online

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumber is an attractive heirloom variety that are small and round with lemon yellow coloured skins and mild, sweet, lime-green flesh. Lemon cucumbers are extremely productive and grow on long vigorous vines that do well on vertical supports like a trellis or fence. Tasty too! Matures in 70 days. OP. Approximately 30 seeds per pack. Buy Online

These 10 varieties and many other seeds from West Coast Seeds, Renees Seeds, Burpees and Suttons are available at Arts Nursery from February through June. Quantities may be limited and availability is subject to change. Most varieties are also available online at www.artsnursery.com/catalog/seeds


Sunday, February 9, 2014
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Seeds

Nothing excites a gardener more than starting their own seedlings, especially at the end of winter when the itch to get out into the garden is at its peak. It’s a time when we can fantasize about how wonderful our gardens can be. There are many reasons why starting seedlings yourself is a huge benefit.

starting seeds
Buy Seeds Online at shop.artsnursery.com

For me, the greatest advantage is to save money. Most of the time, an entire seed packet costs as much as a single six cell tray of vegetables or annuals. As far as vegetables go, I save money in the grocery store by growing varieties that are the most expensive to buy like cherry tomatoes and basil. Another advantage is to get ahead of the harvesting season. Nothing is worse than having unripe fruit or vegetables rot on the vine because of frost. Buying seeds also gives us the opportunity to select new and unique varieties that are not grown by local growers. I find it exciting to grow and share something no one has ever seen before.

Starting seedlings yourself doesn’t have to be complicated. I have been successful with a very rudimentary setup. As long as you take care of the basics you are on your way to success. This is mainly concerning water, airflow and lighting. Even though home grown seedlings take some trial and error, I have some tips and tricks that will help you get ahead of the game.

jiffy seed pots

Choosing a Container

Choosing the proper container for your seeds is important. It is better to use a smaller container for small seeds like lettuce. I like to use peat pellets because they are easy to transplant into a larger container to further mature before going out into the garden.

For large seeds like peas and beans, a deep, large container is better. In this case, there is no reason to transplant before going out into the garden. Large seeds have big roots and will push themselves out of a shallow container. Clay pots don’t work out well because they dry out far too quickly. It is nice to reuse containers to save a few dollars but proper sanitation is important.

Just wash with dish soap and let sit in water with 10% of bleach for about 15 minutes. Let dry completely before adding soil. Labeling containers is an art form that is often overlooked. Not only is it important to give a name to your seedlings but the date planted and the expected germinated date as well.

seedlings

Germination

The germinating stage is critical for success. I like to plant two or three seeds per container with the intention of choosing the largest, healthiest one of the bunch. Pat down the soil gently because seeds need good soil contact to germinate whether they are surface planted or buried. Pay attention to the depth your seeds need to be planted. In general they need to be covered three times their width. Note that some seeds also need light or a certain temperature to germinate.

There are fancy heating pads to ensure enough warmth for germinating but I find the top of my fridge works well. Large seeds like peas and beans should be soaked in warm water until you see them crack before planting. Place plastic wrap on top of your containers until you seen green. The germination process needs constant moisture so don’t let them dry out. Keep a spray bottle on hand just in case. Anything stronger than a mist will move the seeds. Make sure to poke holes in the plastic wrap to avoid accidental rotting.

Prevent Damping Off

‘Damping off’ is a fungal disease and is the biggest problem that seedlings face. Suddenly, your seemingly healthy seedling will wilt for no reason. It happens because of poor air circulation and overcrowding. I like to use a small fan to aid in airflow. The wind should flow across the top of the seedlings, not directly on them. When your seedlings are about an inch tall it is time to thin to only one to avoid overcrowding. Make sure soil is moist before ripping out sensitive roots.

Always use new seed starting mix. Soil out of the garden is a sure way to bring disease to your seedlings. If you would like to make your own seed starting mix, it is simply half peat moss and half vermiculite or perlite. Another good tip is to sprinkle a little milled sphagnum moss or chicken grit when seeding to prevent moisture building up on stems. At first sign of damping off, remove affected seedlings. An organic method of treating damping off is a spray bottle of either chamomile tea or weak garlic tea.

grow light kit

Proper Lighting

Lighting is another big challenge to the novice propagator. Not enough light will produce leggy, weak plants. If you are lucky enough to have a big south facing window, it could be enough light. Your seedlings will need about light most of the day. Two 40 watt florescent tubes are enough light to keep seedlings short enough without burning them. The lights need to be only about two inches above the top of the seedlings. Set your banister up right at the beginning. Hang it on chains or ropes so raising it while seedlings grow will be a lot easier. Make sure to turn trays or pots a quarter turn everyday to ensure even lighting. Another tip to produce strong plants is to use a piece of cardboard to gently brush over seedlings once a day.

Transplanting

When your seedlings have their second set of leaves, it is time to transplant some into larger containers to mature. This is also the time to introduce a little fertilizer. Make sure whichever liquid fertilizer you choose, slowly incorporate it into watering; first time a quarter strength, then half strength or nitrogen burn can be a problem. I use an organic fertilizer at least on vegetable crops because it is comforting to know exactly what I’m putting into my body. This is also the time to start letting your seedlings dry out just a little between watering. This generates stronger, more vigorous roots.

seedlings

Hardening Off

The last step to growing indoor seedlings is to prepare them to be transplanted into your garden. If you take them directly from your warm home to the cool outdoors in spring there is a chance of shock and death. The process of slowly acclimating your seedlings to the outdoors is called ‘hardening off’. Some plants like leeks and cabbage can be placed out a little earlier but generally most plants like to go out at least two weeks after any sign of frost and no later than May long weekend.

It is best done over at least a three day period. I like to first put them in my garage or a sheltered area to avoid too much sun or cold winds for two or three hours. Then a shaded area outside for three or four hours and then in the full elements for five or six. If possible, try to bring down the temperature indoors slowly as well. It helps to have a thermometer with your seedlings from start to finish. If you are still worried about the chance of frost after planting outside, use a cloche or covering at night and take it off in the day time.

Starting seedlings indoors takes a fair bit of nursing but once you get the hang of it, the rewards are abundant. I love to share and trade my seedlings with family, friends and neighbors. There are some types of plants that prefer direct planting into the garden like radishes and carrots but for everything else have fun watching the miracle of a seemingly lifeless seed turn into life right in your own home.


Monday, March 18, 2013
Posted By: Lynne Bose in Seeds

sowing seeds

Well, the rain keeps coming down, and I find myself continually checking on my seedlings to remind me that Spring is on the way!  So here is a little more info on trickier plants to start, as well as sowing tomatoes and peppers.  Yes. I know it seems awfully early, but starting the season with strong healthy transplants will give you  more chin dripping juicy tomatoes, and crunchy, sweet peppers.

It's time to refer back to your  seed packets again for timing requirements.  It may seem like we are having an early spring, but last year we had snow in April, so resist that temptation to try and push the season.  I know, I know, you want to have the best garden on the block.

Seeds that I usually sow inside in March include Walla Walla or other sweet onions, lots of broccoli, Cabbage (my favourite is Charmant because you can space them closely for smaller heads, and they rarely split ), cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, parsley, peppers, early tomatoes, chives, and sage and thyme if my plants are getting woody.

Veggie Starts

There are some perennials that flower the first year if you start them now too, including Echinacea (yippee, we all love it), Rudbeckia hirta, Gaura, lupines, platycodon or balloon flower, and violets.  These perennials may flower later this year, but will be back on track for next year.  It's also time to begin allysum, marigolds, cosmos and calendula.  Hopefully you already have your sweet peas started, but if not, it's still possible.

One way to increase your germination on very fine seeds is to not bury them in the potting mix, but instead topdress your seeding flat,  pots or whatever container  you use, with fine gravel or vermiculite. I first tried this on marigolds and alliums, and now I supply all my friends with marigolds. .Water from the bottom up if possible, or use a fine mist spray .  This stops tender little seedlings and seeds from being washed around in the pot.  Seedling do love an occasional light misting though. You can see them smile!

When it's time to transplant, remember to wait at least  until the first true leaves are showing and then handle them by a leaf not the stem.  If you crush the stem you lose the whole plant, but if you only  crush a leaf the seedling will still grow.

Red PeppersI love sweet red peppers!!.  So I'm always eager to get them started.  Now until early April is the perfect time for them, as  tomatoes too.  Both  like lots of warmth to sprout, and bottom heat will guarantee better success.  If you don't have a heat mat or heat coils, try the top of your fridge.  It's worked pretty well for me in the past.

Once sprouted, tomato seedling do well around 50 degrees for 6 to 8 weeks, while peppers prefer 65 – 75 degrees in the day, and a little cooler at night.  This may mean a morning and nightly chore of moving the seedlings.  Don't let either get rootbound, and instead transplant into 4” pots

West Coast Seeds tell me to let the transplanted pepper seedlings have 4 weeks of slightly cooler ( 55 degrees) nights.  This is to ensure good fruit set ie lots of peppers!  I must admit that hot pepper varieties usually do better for me.  I get better and faster germination and stronger, less fussy seedlings.

SeedsWe all have favourite varieties of peppers and tomatoes, but I have to tell you mine.   Peppers. I always grow include Nardello and Red Bulls Horn for sweet, and Jalapeno and Hungarian Hot Wax (so reliable) for hot peppers.

This year I'm also trying some of the sweet  Mini Red Bell.  I've grown  Amish paste tomatoes for 10 plus years, and they always  give me a huge crop for tasty tomato paste for the winter.  As well I grow Sweet 100's, Sungold (hardy, tasty and prolific), Yellow Brandywine and the harder to find Garden Peach.

Every year I hope for a better,  more productive and beautiful garden.  This year I am hampered by having no greenhouse yet, so my seeds are a bit slower, but they are coming.    However having no veggie patch is not a likelihood in my life. 

“The love of a garden is a seed once sown, that never dies.” said the famous Gertrude Jekyll.

So if you have the “bug” come into Arts Nursery.  It's a great nursery with everything you need to start your garden with friendly and very helpful staff.


Saturday, February 9, 2013
Posted By: Lynne Bose in Seeds

 

Early spring is such an exciting time for gardeners!  February and March are prime time to start some garden seeds.  Cool season crops, such as arugula, broadbeans, corn salad, kale, peas, pac choi and raddichio may all be seeded directly sometime in February or March.  Sweetpeas and cilantro  may also be sown early.

West Coast SeedsOther seeds can be started indoors to help you get a jump on the season.  They include leeks, sweet onions, parlsy, apsaragus, broccoli, cabbage, caulifower, celery, fennel, lettuce, parsley and peppers -  some to be seeded now and some varieties in March.

Some of my favourite early seeds are Broad Windsor broadbeans, Calabrese broccoli (Yum, yum!) Derby Day cabbage ( great for our cool wet springs), Palladio peas and Cascadia snow peas.  A few years ago, my husband gave me some Drunken Woman lettuce seeds as a joke - tee hee - and it has become one of my favourites now too.

Sweet PeasBegin by reading your seed packets.  They give great information on timing, light requirements, sowing depth and optimal temperature for each kind of seed.  Timing is especially important.

It is very tempting to sow lots of seeds now, but it is best ot stick to the dates on the packet.  If it says sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before our last frost date, don't sow any earlier.

You will only end up with tall, spindly and crowded transplants that don't do well.

For the Metro Vancouver, the generally accepted last frost date is March 28. Therefore, many cool season crops can be sown within the next week or two.

Most seeds need the following conditions - warmth, light and moisture.   Add good air circulation for your transplants.   So you will need grow lights or a light windowsill, a heat mat or warm room and a watering can with a misting nozzle if possible.  I start most of my seeds in a plastic greenhouse using  heat mats, and sometimes a supplemental heater under the bench, but I've started many on windowsills and on the top of my fridge.

Peat PelletsAlso needed are a sterile seeding mix and containers,  You can use purchased cell trays or pots, or recycled yogurt containers or egg cartons.

If you use recycled containers, make sure they have drain holes, and are very clean.   Give them a quick wash with water and a little bleach.

I've also had great success using straight compost as a seeding mix.  It must be well rotted, screened and crumbly.Another great option are peat pellets. Wet these little disks and sow your seeds straight on.

Jiffy Packs Seed Starting TraysSince switching to straight compost, I've had no problems with damping off ( a disease that kills new seedlings), and get great sturdy, green seedlings.  Other supplies that will be useful are a pencil or a chopstick, plant tags, again either purchased or recycled from old blind slats, a sharpie and some clear plastic flat covers, or clear plastic sheets.

Begin by wetting your soil.  It is best to do this about an hour before seeding so it has time to drain and warm.  It should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge ie evenly moist and just holding together.

Fill your containers to 1/2 " below the top and tamp the soil down with your fingers or the bottom of another container.  Poke holes for your seeds, paying attention to recommended planting depths.  I usually plant one seed per cell in a cell container, 3-4 seeds per 4" pot and 5-6 seeds in a cell pack.

SeedlingsIt is very tempting again to plant lots of seeds together, but this only leads to overcrowding.  If you have more seeds than you think you can use, team up with a gardening friend.  And remember you can do successive sowings of many crops like lettuce and spinach.

Cover your seeds, again referring to your seed packet for light requirements, and tamp down lightly.  You shouldn't need to water right now because you are using pre-wetted soil.  Remember to label your containers with the tags and Sharpie.

Include the variety and the date sown.  Cover your containers with your chosen plastic, and   put them in their growing site.  If you are using grow lights, position them 4 - 6' above your flats, and adjust them when necessary to keep them that height above the seedlings too.  They should be on 16 hours a day.  A timer might be handy here.  And  now  wait!

Check for water daily, waterering only enough to keep the soil lightly moistened.  Remember that wrung out sponge. Soon you will see a little crook poking out of the soil, or a slight green haze across your flat.  Success!  Yippee!

SeedlingsTaking care of your seedlings is easy too.  Good light, sufficient moisture, warmth and good air circulation are what they need.  So when the seeds have germinated, take off the plastic covers.

Begin fertilizing when the first true leaves appear.  You will see a pair of seed leaves first, and then another pair of true leaves that look different.  Use 1/2 strength fish fertilizer or another balanced fertlizer (20-20-20) once a week,

After a few weeks when the seedlings are growing well, switch to full strength fertilizer.  Sometimes a small fan, turned on the seedling a few hours a day is helpful to prevent spindly growth.

No DampIf  you see seedlings just laying down and dying, you may have damping off, a fungus.  It is caused by overwatering and poor air circulation.  There is a product called No Damp, which will stop it in its tracks.

I've tried strong chamomile tea too, for damping off, with limited success.

Your seedlings will tell you  if they are happy,  They will be a bright healthy green, with sturdy straight stalks.  They will make you smile when you see them grow, and as you dream about those crisp, crunch veggies and gorgeous bouquets you will harvest.  Have fun!


Thursday, February 9, 2012
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Seeds

SeedsAt this time of year, with a few days of sunshine under my belt I start to get a hankering for a nice thick seed catalogue. I daydream about the multitudes of tasty vegetables and neatly planted flowers that will tastefully adorn my garden beds.

After reviewing my Christmas visa bill, my new garden purchases this year will come mainly in the form of seeds, which is actually not as bleak as it sounds.

Seeds are one of the most rewarding ways of populating your garden. Not only is it cost effective, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Even with my negligent style of garden care, I am able to produce germinating magic.

The tiny shrivelled bit of organic material transforms in to a glorious living organism a simple magic act that rivals anything you can see in Vegas. Here are some simple steps to increase your germination success.

Choose your seed carefully – Make sure you are using fresh seeds. old seeds

They do have a shelf life.  I like to rotate my seeds every three years.   I sprinkle out the older seeds into a surprise garden bed.  Never know what I’ll end up with there.  Store them in a cool dry place. 

Read your seed packet carefully and check days to germination and when you can place your seeds out. 

It is not helpful if you have tons of seedlings growing lanky in your living room in February and have to wait until April to put them out. 

Timing is key.  You can place many of the seedlings out after the last day of frost…this is a guess.    The last day of frost tends to be between March 30th and April 30th in a zone 7 garden, but there are exceptions. 

If you take a chance and plant out your seedlings and the weather person is calling for frost, place out newspaper or remay on top of your little plants for protection.  Some seedlings need a certain temperature like tomatoes.

So read before you seed. 

Once you’ve done the math and are ready to seed move on to the next step.

Assemble your utensils.  You’ll need a soilless mixture such as sunshine #1 mix or the like.  Do not use soil of your garden as it carries a lot of weed seeds which will probably germinate a lot faster than the seeds you bought. 

seedling trayI like to use those little peat pucks which you can re-animate in water, you don’t need pots for these.  Add little pots if you’re not a fan of the pucks and a tray with a lid.   I prefer a higher lid…buys me a bit more time. 

If you are really keen you can get a seed heating mat.   You’ll also need a large bucket to place the soil in, where you will crumble it and add moisture or in my case a Tupperware to re-animate the peat pucks. 

You will also need labels.  Don’t skip this last step.  You won’t remember what they are, trust me.

Place 2-3 seeds per pot or puck onto the moist soil.  Use your thumb or the end of a glass to press them into the soil.   You can sprinkle a bit of the soilless mixture onto the top if you have some.  Some folks like to use sand or chicken grit to sprinkle onto the top of the soil. 

Place your little seed pots onto the tray and add the lid.  Place in a sunny spot where they will get the maximum amount of light.  I have mine in my living room window giving my house that special grow-op ambience. 

pinch out seedlingsAdd water to the tray and use a mister to water the surface of the pots as needed.  Maintain an even moisture.   Not all will germinate.  If they do, pinch out the smallest.  Wait until you are crabby before you do this.  It helps.  

Or get one of your cold hearted friends to do it for you if you are going to be a baby about it. 

Once your little seedlings have germinated and have their true leaves and have started to outgrow their lid remove it and make sure you pay special attention to their watering.  Adding water to the bottom is best and make sure you have good air circulation.

seedlings

When your seedlings are big enough to move outside, make sure you harden them off for a few days by placing outside during the day and moving them inside during the evening.   Then you can try leaving them outside with a cover or under the overhang of your house for a couple of days more. 

You will have too many seedlings for your garden, pot up the rest and give as gifts.  It will bring a smile to the face of the giftee!


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

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