Monday, June 19, 2017

My Own Radish Seed

Radish and daikon seed is easy to produce here. If the plant is allowed to grow large and woody, weeks beyond its edible stage, it will eventually send up flower stalks. 


The now gigantic radish plants send out tall flower stalks which flop about and get fairly sprawly......


The flowers themselves are small and cluster at the ends of the flower stalks, though the stalks continue to grow and send out new flowers on their tips. By the way, these flowers are edible and are pretty in salads......

I'm told that radish can cross pollinate with daikon, wild mustard, and wild turnip. Luckily the only plants I need to watch for here on the farm are daikon and radishes. So I only let one variety flower at a time to limit where the bees gather pollen. Yes, daikon and radishes are pollinated by bees. Happily, my bees seem to like the flowers and visit often enough to get most of them successfully pollinated. 

Radish pods get really fat. You sure can't miss them on the plants.....

I let the pods mature to the point that they get yellow-brownish and a bit leathery. Next, I need to pick them and complete the maturation & drying in a protected airy spot. My homestead farm is pretty moist, so the pods won't dry down naturally unless it's a drought year. In the next couple of months I plan to start producing my radish and daikon seed down at my drier seed farm location, where I should be able to dry down the pods naturally while still on the stalk. But that's a future project.

When the pods have turned tannish brown, I set them outside in the sun to dry.....

Once the pods are dry, it's fairly easy to get the seeds. Put the super dry pods in a bag, pillowcase, or cardboard box and give it a whacking with a rubber mallet or a light mashing with a hammer. Yes, true radish pod abuse....violence in the garden, that sort of thing. You see, the seed is a bit challenging to get out of the pod by hand. If I only planned on harvesting a couple dozen seeds, then I could split the pods by hand, using my thumb nail. But for more seed, I needed to try something else so that I wouldn't be sitting there for six hours breaking open pods one at a time by hand. Once beaten into submission, the seeds will collect on the bottom of the bag while the dry pod pieces will be on the top. A fan helps winnow out the light debris if you wanted too (I don't bother unless I plan to sell the seed), leaving the heavy seeds behind. Because I'm not sure just how tough the seeds are, I tend to go on the gentle side with the hammer whacking. I do it just so that the pods are cracked and crushed, but not thoroughly mashed......



Crookshank is helping.......

The bowl contains the seed I harvested from this one box of pods. Considering how few seeds come in a purchased seed packet, growing my own is quite a savings. 

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