The Q&A Archives: How do you save cabbage seeds?

Question: I want to save some seeds from my favorite variety of cabbage, but it's not flowering. How do you save cabbage seeds? Louis Berlot Avon Lake, OH

Answer: Your cabbage isn't flowering because it's a biennial, flowering in the second year of growth, says David Cavagnaro, manager of the Heritage Farm at Seed Saver's Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. To save your cabbage seeds, dig three to five cabbage plantsup (cabbage flowers are self sterile and need other plants for pollination) before first frost. Then replant them in a five gallon container, water and store them in a root cellar with 35_ to 45_F temperatures and low humidity. You can cut and eat the head or leave it for next spring. Long season, tight headed cabbages store best with the head in place. Loose headed, Savoy types store best with the head removed, explains Cavagnaro. In spring after danger of hard frost has passed, replant the cabbages in clusters a few inches apart. If a head remains, score it with an X one to two inches deep to allow the flower stalk to emerge. The stalks grow three to five feet tall, so you'll need to stake and tie them. The stalk forms seedpods that dry by mid July. (Don't allow other cole crops to flower at the same time or they may cross pollinate.) The seedpods can be shattered in a burlap bag and the seeds removed by winnowing.

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