Brassica Oleracea – That Wonderful Magical Animal

Ahhh, Brassica oleracea – That wonderful magical animal that brings us Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Kale, Gai Lan, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and Cauliflower.

All of these crops stem from the same leafy common ancestor. Farmers have been selecting away at them for the last couple millenia to bring us this current selection of Brassica oleracea.

Needless to stay, these are crossers and they want to cross.

But, thatís not why I donít think you should focus on Oleracea for #seedsavingformarketgrowers.

No, generally I donít think you should be saving Oleracea seed because the plants take a lot of space and though you do get a lot of seed for that space, itís way more seed than youíre likely to use – even over 4 or 5 years.

And, Oleracea are biennials – they take 2 years to get to seed. A big investment in space and patience.

Oleracea are refined vegetables – you need to put some extra effort choosing the plants that will go to seed to make sure you maintain the variety traits you want. If youíre new to seed saving, you probably haven’tí yet developed your selection eyes. Start with some other crops and then come back to Oleracea when you want a bit more challenge.

That being said, two Olerace might be good fits for #seedsavingformarketgrowers.

  1. Collards
  2. Kale

If you already grow these Oleracea through the winter – in the field or greenhouse, then just let them bolt and harvest some early summer seeds. Plus, these crops donít need the same rigorous selection as the more refined brassicas.

p.s. Not all Kale is Oleracea – some are Napus!!!

The PROS of Collards and Kale for seed:

  • Many harvests – you can pick and pick and pick these greens and still harvest the seed
  • Easily goes to flower and then to seed
  • Easy to thresh pods – when they are dry, they easily shatter
  • Easy to screen and winnow
  • There are great open pollinated varieties

The CONS of Collards and Kale for seed:

  • Biennial – you need to get these plants to year 2
  • A lot of hybrid varieties – make sure you have an OP for seed


5lbs to 15lbs from a 100ft bed


4 to 5 years

More about saving Kale seed

Overwintering Kale Plants In A Greenhouse For†Seed

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