How to Save Kale Seed (and Why I Probably Won’t Do It Again)

How to Save Kale Seed

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On a whim this spring, I decided to allow several overwintered vegetable plants to go to seed.  I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a crazy year, and it seemed like a good time to learn how to save kale seed.

I’m still waiting for my carrots, beets, and chard seeds to mature, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the seed saving process.

How to Save Kale Seed | Roots & Boots
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How to save kale seed

Step one: overwinter

The first step is to allow the designated plants to overwinter.  This kale grew last year, plus we ate it all spring this year.

Step two: allow to flower

Next, just leave the plant alone as it turns into the veggie equivalent of a sky scraper.  Enjoy its beautiful blooms and wish you’d had the foresight to tuck it somewhere less visible.

How to Save Kale Seed | Roots & Boots
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Step three: wait for seeds to mature

After the flowers fade and drop, it will feel like FOREVER until the seed pods mature.  The plant will become even more huge and it will flop over.  Again you will wish you’d located it in an out of the way spot.

Step four: harvest seeds

When half or more of the seeds pods appear brown and crispy, it’s time to chop down the stalks and harvest the seeds.  Waiting for all of the seed pods to dry up will run the risk of some pods breaking open and spilling seeds where you may not want them.

How to Save Kale Seed | Roots & Boots
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A closer look at harvesting

I made a quick video to show you the entire process.  See below…

Basically, the process goes like this:

  1. Chop down plant
  2. Shake branches to remove seeds
  3. Let seeds and chaff fall into a large container
  4. Separate seeds from chaff
  5. Dispose of chaff
  6. Keep the seeds!

Pros and cons

As I mentioned in my video, I experienced a few pros and cons to the whole seed saving process.


  1. Experience the full cycle of seed to plant to seed.
  2. Gain confidence in your gardening skills.
  3. Feel secure in knowing you are not dependent on external seed sources.
  4. When done properly, you can select exceptional plants and save seeds from that plant.  Over time, you’ll produce a strong variety that performs well in your particular microclimate.
  5. Save plenty of seeds to last for a long time!


  1. Mature plants take up LOTS of room that could otherwise be used to grow food.
  2. Mature plants get HUGE and rather untidy looking.
  3. The entire process is time consuming, from waiting for seeds to mature to the actual steps of harvesting the seeds.

In the end, I’m glad to have saved seeds once.  Will I do it again next year?  Probably not.

What about you?  Do you save your own seeds?  Why or why not?

More seed-saving ideas:

More about gardening:


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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Brendan on 07/13/2020 at 12:55 am

    I tried this too this year! First time doing it. The birds enjoyed it and made a mess. Now I have kale growing everywhere.

    • Kathleen on 07/15/2020 at 3:25 pm

      Oh no! Yes, that’s part of the “fun” of seed-saving.

  2. patricia parsons on 08/22/2022 at 7:07 pm

    I have saved kale seeds for 20 years. I germination test them every year and this year, 2022, I grew some from seeds I saved in 2015. They were stored in a dark outdoor garage which averaged 60 degrees in summer and 50 in winter. Most of my saved seeds are given away from a free box in front of my house. i have had worse luck recently keeping my variety pure since lots more people have become vegetable gardeners in my neighborhood, and in spring there are all the kale varieties going to seed within a quarter mile of my garden. I have some interesting crosses and they all taste great in our cool pacific northwest weather My lettuce seed i saved last year germinated in 24 hours. It also keeps for 5 years or so. I grew a pint of lettuce seeds last year! Lots to share good luck with your endeavors and know that your kale seeds will keep so you dont have to have a great big seed stand every year

    • Kathleen Henderson on 08/22/2022 at 7:22 pm

      This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing, Patricia!

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