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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Save your own seeds - onions, leeks and parsnip

Onions and leeks are biennials and will not usually cross pollinate, so just grow them as a normal crop but keep aside some plants and allow them to produce flower stalks in their second year. Once flowered, watch carefully as once mature the seed pods can easily shatter. As soon as you can see the black seeds within the drying flowers you should cut off the head and allow them to continue drying in a paper bag. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag but gentle shaking will speed the process. Seeds left in the flowers can be removed by rubbing the flowers between your hands. Allow the seeds to dry for a period before storing and ripe onion and leek seeds should keep in a cool and dark place for up to two years.

Parsnips will cross-pollinate between varieties easily so save seed from one variety each year. Parsnips produce a tall flower stalk in their second year, so leave a number of roots in the ground. Pull up any roots which start to flower before the others or you will be saving seed prone to bolt. Parsnips produce little yellow flowers on their stalks which are followed by huge numbers of papery seeds. Harvest and allow to dry for a few days before storing in a cool and dark place. Parsnip seeds are best used within a year of harvesting.

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