Saving Parsnip Seed
This blog post has been over 18 months in the making!
Parsnips are a biannual plant so to they only flower and set seed in their second year of growing.
Last year I grew a good batch of parsnips which we ate all winter, but I saved the best ones to grow on for seed. In march I sorted through them and planted them in a new bed.
|Parsnips selected. Not the most perfect but they're all a good size.|
|Laid out ready to plant|
They grew all summer, reaching a height of over 6ft with no care from me whats so ever!
|The green flowers at the back are the parsnip ones.|
|Flowers as tall as me, if not more (6ft)|
I once the flowers had set and the seeds formed the plants started to dry off. I picked a sunny day and harvested all the flower heads, with stalks still attached, and hung them up in the shed to dry out fully.
|Parsnip seed heads harvested and hung in the shed to dry out fully|
Then a month later it was a a lovely sunny afternoon so I decided it was time to collect the seed from them.
To get the seed was simple, I laid a dust sheet on the ground (an old bed sheet actually) and then we "threshed" them in batches. To thresh them we just used a 5ft length of bamboo cane and hit them, periodically we'd stop, move the seed heads, pick out all the big bits then scoop the seeds into a jar before starting again. The girls loved this job and thought it was great to collect the seed up as well.
|The girls threshing the seed heads.|
|The boy thought this was great fun as well!|
|A bit of the seed fresh off the dried plants.|
|A big batch of seed saved up and a chunky arm trying to steal them!|
Growing these parsnips for seed has been great fun and I certainly learnt a lot doing it. The main thing I learnt is how much space it takes to grow something for seed. These plants took up a huge amount of space, not something that you could do in an average UK garden that's for sure!
I think growing things for seed would be best done in groups of like minded people, each growing a different variety of carrot for example. To try to do it all yourself each year (or every other depending on how long the seed lasts) would be a massive undertaking, not just with the growing but the planning as well (cross pollination of certain plants), something that needs careful consideration from anyone planning for full self sufficiency.
I now have a massive amount of parsnip seed that I'm going to use myself, give away to friends, take to the seed swap next year and give away on this blog. I have five huge jars full of seed, far more than I could ever use.
Who else has grown biannual plants for seed?
Did you have much success?