Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!
~Rob~

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post: Kale seed saving by Fruition Seeds


I am thrilled to present this guest post on saving seeds 
by Petra Page-Mann and Matthew Goldfarb of Fruition Seeds!

~

Saving seed is the origin of civilization.  It is also easy as pie!  Truly, some are easier than others and kale is one of the easiest. 

Kale is biennial, so it gathers energy the first season to produce its seed the second season.  In our temperate Northeast climate, kale may overwinter as a full-size plant uncovered but we plant our seed crop of kale in early September, finding the overwintered young plants more reliably resilient.  Some plants will inevitably not survive, but those that do will be that much more adapted to your conditions!

Petra with overwintered kale, ready to go to seed
Kale may be Brassica napus (Siberian types, such as Red Russian, sharing the species with rutabaga) or Brassica oleracea(all other types, sharing the species with cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and more).  It is critical to only have one of these species flowering at any given time, unless you want them to cross! 

Three foot kale flowering in May.
In the Spring the bedraggled plants will begin to grow again!  Be sure to select for strong, vigorous regrowth as well as leaf shape and color.   It is also important to thin plants for increased air-flow around the plants as they go to seed.  Our kale planted in September overwinters young and thrives when thinned to ten inches between each plant, give or take a couple inches.

Nathaniel Thompson of Remembrance Farm with flowering kale.
Second year kale will bolt (go to seed) fairly quickly.  Enjoy its tall, stately stalks lined with pale yellow flowers covered in pollinators!  Each flower will turn into long green pods that swell and turn brown as they mature.  Once the lowest pods have turned brown, dry and have shattered, harvest the whole stalk and set it on a clean, hole-free tarp in a dry place for a few days to further dry down. 

Petra surrounded by flattening seed pods.
Separating the seed from the fully dry stalk can be done in any number of ways!  We have several sticks we are fond of that knock the seeds out of their pods quite effectively.  I also love to wrap up the stalks in the tarp (like a burrito) and dance/stomp on it!  

Wading through an ocean of kale going to seed.
The seed has now fallen onto the tarp, along with all the chaff (bits of the dry plant).  To clean the seed from the chaff, use a colander or another screen you might have in the garage.  Also, pouring the seed and chaff before a box fan and into a bin will allow the chaff to be blown away while the heavy seed falls straight down.  

Screening seeds.

It is important to keep your seed well labeled, in a cool, dark dry and rodent/insects-free place.  If stored well, your kale will last for years and years!



Saving seed is easy, fun and incredibly satisfying.  Your seed will be uniquely suited to your soils and climate, your particular taste and garden style.  

 ~
 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a wonderful post on how to save kale seeds! I've always been fascinated by seed saving and really need to learn more about it. I love that properly stored seeds can last for years - how awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing...will use this to help me save some "Mizuna" seeds from the greens this year. I also have Red Russian Kale and it would be great to save seeds from them too if I can find the space. Thanks much!

    ReplyDelete