Monday, August 20, 2012

Saving Seeds - Greens (Kale, Collard, Bok Choy)

PICTURE#1   Photo by Angie Ouellette-Tower

Saving Seeds - Greens (Kale, Collard, Bok Choy)

Saving Seeds is such an important part of home gardening.  You can grow totally free food if you save your own seeds.  For example - If you make your own compost (fertilizer) (or if you have access to free manure) and if it was a perfect season (with optimal rain therefore no need for watering) - then you could literally have free food.  Except for paying the property taxes on your land there is no other expense involved in growing your own food if you are able to save your seeds.  OK, yes - time is money but the effort of gardening will only benefit your health - good exercise & vitamin D from the sun.

 PICTURE #2 - Photo by Angie Ouellette-Tower

I'll stop pushing the "Backyard Farming" movement today but let's talk about saving seeds from greens like Kale, Collards, Spinach and Bok Choy (the seeds look similar for all of these plants and the seed saving steps are also the same).

Now, it is important to know if the original plant from which you are savings seeds is an Heirloom or Hybrid (I will explain this in a different post).  You will want to save Heirloom seeds.

STEP1:  Allow your plant to bolt (this is when the middle part of the plant grows up above the green leaves - as seen in PICTURE#2).  In my northern climate, I allowed my plants to "winter over" and then they bolt/go to seed in late spring the next year.  In a more southern climate these plants will bolt at the end of the growing season.
STEP2:  After your plant has bolted you will notice these long skinny pods appear.  Inside these pods are many little seeds.  You must allow these pods to dry out while on the growing plant (DO NOT PULL UP THE PLANT UNTIL YOU HAVE HARVESTED THE SEEDS) (see PICTURE#2).
STEP3:  Now you can cut the dry pod heads off of the plant and place the dried pods in a paper bag as seen in PICTURE#3 below.  (You may pull the plant after the pods have been cut off of the plant).

PICTURE #3 -  Photo by Angie Ouellette-Tower

STEP4:  Once all of the pods are in your paper bag - begin crunching the pods with your hands (wear gloves to protect your hands).  Now, kind of close the top of the bag and then shake.  Keep on shaking until you see many hundreds of seeds in the bottom of the bag.  The seeds should be black in color and look like what my husband is holding in PICTURE#1 
STEP5:  Remove & discard the pod chaff and then place your seeds in a clearly marked smaller paper bag as seen in PICTURE#4.  Store in a cool dry place.

IMPORTANT:  Make sure that you clearly mark the type/variety of seed on each paper bag - even when you are shaking the seeds - otherwise you won't know what you are planting next spring.
PICTURE#4 -  Photo by Angie Ouellette-Tower


  1. This is a great post. Do you recommend storing certain kinds of seeds in the freezer?

    1. Thanks!
      I've actually had more luck keeping seeds in the fridge not the freezer. The best place is if you have a cool dry cellar - I've been blessed with a very dry basement so that is where I store my seeds BUT many basements are damp - so you wouldn't want to store them in a damp area.

  2. I have always had trouble growing things from seeds. We often have a late spring. I've tried starting seeds inside but I sometimes forget to water them. Ooops. I admire you for being such a good (and thrifty!) gardener!

  3. I am your newest follower returning your follow. I look forward to more visits.

  4. Hi Angie! Thanks for visiting my blog and following. I'm following you back and look forward to learning some gardening tips...I sure can use them!

  5. Hi Angie: Great post on saving seeds. You may know that I love making seedcatchers and promoting the saving of seeds. How long do you think the seeds you highlighted will last before planting?

    1. Thanks so much! I know that I have planted "store bought" seeds 3 years after they technically should have been used & the plants grew just fine. My saved seeds I usually use that next season (I will have too many "greens" seeds to use up next year). I'm sure that if you keep these seeds in a cool dry place that they should last about 3 years.


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Thank You.

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