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Saving seed


by Jane Moore

Before I knew it, the leeks and a solitary parsnip were in full flower and producing seed, so I thought I'd collect the seed to sow next year.


Jane MooreI've been letting a few crops run to seed this year. I left a few parsnips and a couple of rows of leeks over winter to be harvested as and when I needed them, but there were far too many of them and many stayed in the ground.

In spring, the leeks and parsnips shot into glorious growth, triumphant at having survived the frosts and the cold. I left them to it, I was busy sowing seeds, getting the potatoes chitted and planted, and preparing the beds. Before I knew it, the leeks and a solitary parsnip were in full flower and producing seed, so I thought I'd collect the seed to sow next year.

The parsnip looks magnificent in flower. It's so strong and sturdy that it looks like it could take on a Siberian winter and still taste sweet. As for the leeks, they're tall and straight, with green curved leaves and beautiful globes of purple flowers. Being a member of the allium family, leek flowers are a magnet for honeybees and bumblebees, which seem to spend hours moving from one globe to another.

The flowers on both the parsnip and the leeks are rapidly going over and going to seed. There are small black seeds developing within the bracts of the leek flowers while the big, flat parsnip flower heads are becoming dry and papery, like miniature honesty seeds. Next week I'll cut the heads off and hang them upside down in a paper bag to collect all the seeds. Then, in 2010 I'll be sowing my own leeks and parsnips on my plot. I can't wait to see how they grow.



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Gardeners' World Web User 17/07/2009 at 20:03

i am only just starting to garden and i have to say am very fscinated on how u can get seeds of your own plants. many of you will probably think that i am ver far behind which i am. But is it just a case of kepping peas and potatoes and planting them nex year wehn the time is right? or is there something that your suposed to with them, because i have just grown some peas and potatoes myself. please could someone help?

Gardeners' World Web User 17/07/2009 at 23:22

I plant wee leeks every year to grow for their flowers - they're good tall alliums. and I've found if you cut off the stems when the seed heads are ragged, but leave the root, they often grow on for another year or two. though I don't know that I'd like to try eating them then...

Gardeners' World Web User 18/07/2009 at 07:56

Not a lot of point saving the seeds if they are from F1 plants. It would pay to check.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/07/2009 at 10:34

I have tried saving seeds in the past which was ok with things like tomatoes, beans, etc but no joy with flower seeds. Then last year I read about keeping them in cool place ie fridge and great! lots of Helebores and Evening Primrose and more

Gardeners' World Web User 18/07/2009 at 11:40

Jamie - save blemish-free potatoes from a haulm which has given a good yield and , at the end of their season, leave some beans and peas on their plants to dry. Seeds are best kept dry in a plastic container with a lid, in the salad compartment of your fridge. The old heritage varieties are the best for saving.

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