17 Apr 2012 3 Comments
Learning how to save broccoli seeds is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I knew the appearance of flowers meant I was on the right track, but I never could figure out where the seeds came from. Oh sure, a quick search on the internet provides all the answers, but I was trying to use nature as my guide. Surely something would look familiar soon. Marigold seeds came directly from the flowers, why not broccoli?
Because that isn’t the way nature works. You see, broccoli seeds are hidden in the pods BELOW the broccoli flowers. You can see them here, beginning to plump as they form.
But these aren’t quite ready yet (photo taken in February). You need to allow them to fully develop before attempting to harvest. For example, this plant is from my fall garden. It’s April now, which gives you some indication as to the time required for these pods to form. You can’t rush Mother Nature. (She gets a bit itchy when you do.) First you’ll see the flowers form and eventually the pods. Mind you, I waited months for these, but it’s worth the wait knowing you can achieve self-sustainability.
For easier harvest, pull the entire plant out and allow the pods to dry on the stalk. Now the kicker is how to get them out without destroying them. Broccoli seeds are quite tiny. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to recognize them when I see them. From the various sources I checked, it seems your first task is to save these pods, allow them to dry and then “pound” them open to get the seeds.
Pound them? That sounds so harsh. How will this not crush the seeds? Perhaps I can “pry” them open and allow the seeds to tumble out into my awaiting seed packet. Better yet, how about I lay them out on white paper so that I can see the little fellas! (Old eyes need all the help they can get.)
That’s much better. Now rather than pound them out, how about I twist open the pods, much like I do with my bean pods? Seems so much more humane.
And if it works, it works —just look at those little beauties! Remember, these are very tiny so this photo may be deceiving. Be sure your work space is conducive to working with broccoli pods (translated: an area where you won’t lose them if they roll off your paper—which they might do!) Then, with your awaiting seed packet, fold the paper and roll them in…
Ta-da! You’ve saved your broccoli seeds! How cool is that? Now mark your packet with all the pertinent details like where you harvested them and when and of course what type of seeds along with which variety! You can make your own custom seed-saving packets by using my template found here.