Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harvesting purple broccoli seed

We love our Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It is easy to grow, early to produce and tasty to graze on. It is a great bridge vegetable, delivering a fresh vegetable when most others are just going into the ground. I also love the plant. It is super stout, going into the ground near the end of the summer and then shouldering whatever winter throws at it. Around here (Tacoma WA) winter doesn't throw much at us. The Territorial catalog tells you that purple broccoli is hardy below 10°F. We are unfortunate if we get below 20°F, a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures I imagine elsewhere. The broccoli plant itself is pretty amazing in how it copes with freezing temperatures. As the temperatures get closer to freezing, the plant introduces more sugar into its system. This lowers the fluids freezing point, natural anti-freeze. The plant also draw moisture away from its leaves, so expansion during a freeze isn't as likely to burst its cells. This behavior isn't unique to the purple broccoli plant, of course, but it is the one that we plant, watch slump against the ground during a freeze and bounce back when the temperatures rise again, pretty amazing.

Seed Harvesting
I harvested seeds from a couple purple plants that I let go this spring. There was nothing to it except to give them time to complete their cycle. The seed pods come on super thick, eventually drying and cracking down their mid-line. Each pod has about twenty seeds divided into two rows. The seeds pop easily from the pod once it is dry. Some shaking and scuffing of the pods within the confines of a bucket was all I needed to do to extract nearly every seed. I gathered just over two ounces of seed in no time at all. I am very confident that they'll grow. What I don't know is what they will grow into. Broccoli will cross pollinate with any other brassica, however I may be out of the woods. I didn't have any other brassica growing during the time that the purple broccoli were flowering. I'll have to wait another year to find out.  The purple broccoli for Spring 2012 is already in and ready for the winter. This year's seed harvest quality won't be proven until the Spring of 2013. 
If you want to try some of this seed yourself, let me know. I have enough to grow what we need for ten years in these couple ounces. I'd be happy to send you some.

The final product, 2oz of seed,


  1. Hi. Do you still have any purple broccoli seed to share? I am interested. Thanks!

  2. Me -- yes, I certainly do. Send your postal address to 4.randy.larson