For just about the whole time that I've been growing things I've been saving seed from the easier and quicker plant groups - legumes, plants from the nightshade family, grains, etc. I would like to know how to save seed from brassicas, how do you save seeds from the group?
Plese, share your wisdom, O wise ones.
Last Edit: Feb 14, 2014 18:37:33 GMT -5 by blackox
The only problem is cross-breeding. In my situation, not many people leave brassicas to flower, and hedges impede the passage of polliating insects. As long as I only save seed from one variety or mix per year, it's not a problem. If you want to do more than that, you have to start finding artificial ways of isolating them.
For the biennials, you overwinter them, which can be easy or difficult depending on your winters. I've begun overwintering my kales under a low tunnel. They overwinter great in there, but the issue is the low tunnel warming up too quickly in late winter and inducing them to flower before it is safe. I plan to experiment next season with nurseryman's white plastic over the brassica tunnel to see if I can prevent them from doing this. Right now it means a lot of futzing taking the cover on and off to protect them while slowing them down at the same time. Traditionally you did it in the root cellar in cold winter areas. Mild winter areas have it easy saving brassica.
When the pods (siliques) start ripening you have to either hand pick them or wait till the maximum number are ripe in your opinion and then harvest the whole plant. If you leave them too long they will start shattering or the goldfinches etc will start stealing all the seeds.
A good one to practice with would be mustard greens or some of the asian greens, they are annual so you could get the idea of what they are like this season before you play with overwintering.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Feb 14, 2014 19:25:35 GMT -5
There's lots of different types of brassicas... In the biennials the hardest thing for me is winter survival: getting seed in the first place. One year I had volunteer turnips survive the winter in the garden, so I figured "Cool, no need to store them indoors". So I overwintered them in the garden and every turnip froze that winter. This year I overwintered them in the garage. Looks like they are surviving so far!!!
There is a lot of cytoplasmic male sterility in brassicas due to people saving seed from hybrid ancestors. Another reason that getting seed can be problematic. Screening for male sterility is straightforward, select for mother plants that have anthers.
Brassica seed is produced in pods. I typically let the plants dry in the field. If the seed pods are shattery I harvest them about the time the first pods are opening. I harvest whole plants by cutting the stems, not by pulling, because I don't want to mix dirt in with my seeds. That makes cleaning difficult. Then I stack them on tarps for further drying. I often throw sticks over that to keep them from blowing away. Threshing consists of stomping or beating to break up the pods and release the seeds. Turnip seeds are easy to thresh, the pods shatter readily so a gentle walk over the pile releases the seed. Radish pods are difficult and take repeated vigorous stomping and beatings. Cleaning consists of winnowing and/or screening.
A nice feature of brassica seeds is that they are round. Thus they roll readily down an inclined plane. This characteristic can be useful for separating seeds from dirt or chaff.
Silt/clay, high-altitude, super-arid, sun-drenched, irrigated-desert garden. Cold radiant-cooled nights. ~100 frost free days. Grow most of my own locally adapted landrace seed. GDD10C ~1300. Author of Mother Earth News: Landrace Gardening Blog.
Post by flowerweaver on Feb 15, 2014 18:44:42 GMT -5
I grow most of my brassicas in the fall and overwinter them. If I need more seed and I don't need the space I let them go to flower, and eat the rest. Right now the broccoli raab is flowering and giving my honeybees an nice early treat. It was good to see them out working today. I will save this seed. Next year I won't need broccoli raab seeds, so I'll eat them and let something else go to flower. That way I keep my seed collection in rotation, my plate full, and the bees happy.
Drip irrigated gardening in the arid southwest on a beautiful pile of alluvial rocks where the hill country meets the desert. It's a food desert, too: a 3 hour round trip to the grocery store.
Indoor storage for the biannuals would probably be a necessity, we do get some good snow cover but it can get darn cold . I'll have to look into investing in some high tunnels our maybe a root cellar.
I've had plenty of practice threshing as I grow a lot of dried beans, we also do it for walnuts.
I've already got a lot of mustard and radish seed to work with. I've yet to try Bok Choy or similar but here that they taste like cabbage, so they sound good. So are there any other annual brassicas? I'm supposing that cauliflower and broccoli are capable of producing seed in one year as the heads are just premature flower stalks?
I'm still a bit confused with the Brassica seed saving :
i understood that i can plant one variety of B. oleracea, B. rapa and B. nigra without special protection wrt cross pollination between species, but can i also grow one variety of B. napus and B. juncea without risking too much interspecific cross pollination with the other Brassica ?
The other thing to keep in mind, is that even if you had a seed crop from all of those species, they aren't likely to all be blooming at exactly the same moment. The biennials and annuals would very definitely be on different schedules, so you could likely still get away with it.