Time to save some seed!
As winter officially draws to a close, some of your brassicas and greens are bolting to seed. Please resist the temptation to pull them out to make room for more plants. At our place, we have only four square metres of garden and, at the moment, we have bok choy, tatsoi and lettuce going to seed. You only need to save seed from one plant.
be wise – save only the best
However, please be judicious: seed should be collected from your best plants; unlike the broccolini I pulled out yesterday because it was covered in cabbage aphids (purple-grey in colour). It had bolted to seed without giving us any heads to eat so I didn’t want to reproduce that tendency!
Let your brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, pak choi, tatsoi, collards, etc) grow until they stop flowering. This will take several weeks and they’ll get quite tall. The bees, if there are any around, will be in your garden in abundance. We have both honey bees from the neighbour’s hives and several types of native bees, plus parasitic wasps. When the plant has stopped flowering, you can tie it all together so it takes up less space and wait for it to die. This way the seeds in the little “pods” will be fully mature. Thanks, Roberta, for this tip.
Let your lettuces grow to flower. They have sweet little daisy-like flowers. The lettuce seed, which is carried by the wind, is soft and fluffy. Put a paper bag over the finished flowers that are visibly producing seed (you will be able to tell). Cut off the flowers stems and let them fall in to the bag. Make sure you do this when the flower heads are completely dry, not immediately after rain, dew or watering!
saving, cleaning, storing and donating seed
If you attend SeedSavers, you already know how to clean your own seed. Save some seed for yourself (in the fridge at 5° is best) and donate the rest to the PSW Seedbank. Remember to label with your name, suburb, date of harvesting (the month and year is fine) and the plant name, including specific variety (eg Barbara, Parramatta, Sept 2019, Lettuce ‘Canasta’). Please try to use a paper bag, not plastic (because it sweats and for environmental reasons), and bring only the seed heads, not the whole plant.
Lynne (PSW SeedSavers)