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Saving Kale Seeds

Most gardeners are lucky if their kale plants last through the summer.  We’ve been blessed with a Lacinato kale that has been growing for over a year and a half. It’s a magic plant; it survived cut worms, it resisted powdery mildew, and it never, ever got aphids. We’re definitely saving seeds from this plant.

Now over 10 feet tall, and listing to one side, the time has come to pull the plant (before it decapitates someone when it falls).  But first to save the seeds:

Kale plant last year before going to seed

About 3 months ago, we found a cluster of seed pods at the top that hadn’t been eaten by birds (seed pods form after the yellow flowers fall off).  We covered that section with a paper bag and stapled it closed over the branches.  Then we waited…

After checking a few times to see if the seed pods were plump with seed, we had to wait again for them to dry out. Finally, about two weeks ago, the seed pods were dry.  Time to harvest.

Lacinato kale seed pods, dry and ready to process

The next part is easy.  Simply twist the pods until they crack open.  Inside you will find a membrane running down the middle of the pod with tiny seeds on either side.  We opened the pods over a paper towel to prevent them from rolling off the counter.

Kale seeds ready for storage

The final step is to label and store them for next year.  We keep a stash of #1 coin envelopes on hand for this express purpose.  The seeds go in, the envelope gets labeled and goes in the seed storage jar in the fridge (complete with desiccant packets).

We’ve dubbed it the “Giant Survivor” variety.

If you are new to seed saving, it’s a good idea to write down the planting depth and spacing information, as well as what time of year to plant (spring or fall).  That way the information is all in one place.

So this fall, we will plant these seeds and see what happens.  To be continued…

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Chris Ingram

    I’ve got Scots kale plants that are now up to 4 feet tall. I don’t see any seed pods yet. They are in their first year of growth. How long before they give seed pods?

    1. Christy

      It all depends on your growing conditions, Chris. My kale, as you can see, got to about 10 feet or so before it showed signs of going to seed. I have others that bolt right away when hot weather hits. Keep going, and eventually you’ll get seeds. Be sure to cover them once you see pods though – the birds will get them first.

  2. Christy Wilhelmi

    LOL! That’s what usually happens with saving seeds.  If you feel like your seed is pure (not contaminated by other strains nearby) you might consider donating some to your local seed bank or seed library.  I did that with a mountain of celery seed that I saved last year.

  3. Rick

    10 feet tall, that’s one huge old kale plant. Our cold winters prevent us from growing large kale year round but we are able to start new plants in the fall that stay smaller and then we can over winter in a hoop house. We tried saving kale seeds for the first time this year. Worked out really well only now I have more seeds than I could plant in 100 years!!

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