Thursday, April 28, 2011

BROKKOLI - Disasters and Seed Saving

Brokkoli plant
What happened to my brokks? I seeded them out when we still lived in the apartment in Marina del Rey and got about 60 beautiful plants, which I then transplanted into their dedicated bed in our Suburban Homestead.

My wonderful mother in law was already agreeing to take some of these expected way to many brokkoli heads. And then they grew and grew and flowered and no brokkoli heads were ever seen.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Well, as I learnt, when brokkoli flowers it is too late. Their heads need to come off before the yellow flowers set in. But mine never head big heads; they only had tiny little green blossoms.

Hmm, apparently Ms Open-Pollinator Heirloom had bought a variety that is very unhybridised and does not grow big brokkli-heads. This may very well be the ancestor of any modern brokkoli.

What to do now with all these brokkolis?

Robert suggested throwing them out because they took up space but Ms Frugal over-ruled him and decided to let them go grazy and bloom and then collect the seeds and reseed in fall. Yes, nothing goes to waste here.

Besides, in an environment of mass extinction, I strongly encourage everyone to save seeds.

So, I kept caring for my brokkoli; meaning I watered them.

About seed saving brokkoli:

Typically, brokks are an insect pollinated biennial but some can work as an annual (apparently this very original brokkoli does).

If you plant different brassica varieties (cabbage, brokkoli, cauliflower, beets), they need to be isolated by ¼ mile to prevent cross pollination. If that occurs, you never know what you get... No, seriously, throw away these seeds because nothing will grow that is even remotely related to either of the parent plants.

Barriers also can help; you can establish barriers to accomplish the brassica separation for seed saving purposes. So, Tree lines, woods or buildings in between varieties can allow for shorter distances.

Seed pods

Seed in fall, transplant in early spring and allow plants to flower after forming a compact

Broccoli seed can take a very long time to mature and may require some season

Anywho, you need to collect the seeds before they seed themselves. Reason is that you should not plant brassicas in a bed where brassicas have been the year prior. These plants suck the soil dry of nutrients. You may want to dedicate this bed to legumes (peas, beans and such), which give back to the soil. They are the so-called 'nitroogen-fixers'.

Seeds still in the pod
 Back to the seed saving: Collect the seed stalks when the seed pods are dry. Be careful to prevent losses due to shattering.

I read that a 1/8" screen can help with getting the seeds out of the pods. Of course I am planning on making a huge big mess on our dining room table.

Broccoli seed remains viable for 5 years under cool and dry storage conditions. I store mine in one of my gazzillion used almond butter jars.

Fall can come! When I then plant them, I am aware that I need to eat them before the pretty flowers show up.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

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