Saving Seed - Knowledgebase Question

Smithfield, UT
Question by davemclain
February 18, 1998
I am interested in learning how to collect seeds from heirloom vegetables and flowers and how to best store them. I would appreciate information particularly on vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, when is the best time to collect various seeds?
Thank you so much!! I love to garden!!!!!


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Answer from NGA
February 18, 1998

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Have I got a book for you! "Seed to Seed", by Suzanne Ashworth, published by Seed Savers Exchange, is a great reference for saving all sorts of vegetable seed. It is available from The Seeds Savers Exchange, ph# 319-382-5990; address 3076 N. WinnRd., Decorah, IA 52101.

Members of the Brassica family--which includes the vegetables you mention--can be difficult to save because they readily cross-pollinate one another. These plants are pollinated by insects. If they do cross-pollinate, then you save and grow out the resulting seed, the plant may be a strange mix of the two species. To ensure seed purity, you need to somehow isolate the plants so they can't cross-pollinate. In fact, it is recommended to isolate different varieties by growing them at least 1/2 mile apart!

You can always play around with it, and see what you get, but to do it properly and predictably, you'll need to prevent cross-pollination. You can also do this by "caging", or covering the plants with a row cover on alternate days.

Don't get discouraged. It's not impossible, and if you're doing it for fun you can try different things. Also, many flowers are easier to save seed from.

I recommend you get the book mentioned above for all the details. (By the way, I love gardening too!)




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