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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Save your own seeds - turnip and oriental brasicca

Turnip and oriental brassica

Oriental brassica and turnip are sub varieties of the same family as turnip. This means that although they will cross with each other, or with turnips in flower, they won't cross with broccoli or cauliflowers.  Although you can only grow one of these vegetables for seed in any year, you can of course grow any of the others for kitchen use, so long as you don't allow them to flower at the same time as your seed plants. 

These plants are naturally biennials, producing their flowers and seeds in their second year of growth. Plants will usually flower in their second autumn but will need to be kept shaded and moist to survive the summer. Select at least 6 of the healthiest and most typical plants to reserve for seed and eat the rest.  In the second autumn, the plants will flower, and then form seedpods. 

The seedpods are green at first, but then gradually dry out and turn a pale tan colour. Once most of the pods are dry and brittle, cut the entire stalks of the plant, and lay out on a sheet undercover with a good airflow to finish drying.  Then rub and crush the pods with your hands to release the seeds before separating the seeds from the chaff with a coarse sieve. Seeds can be stored for 3 years in a cool and dark place.

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