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Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to Harvest Bok Choy Seeds

Photo 1: Bok choy plant forming seed pods

Photo 2: Sunlight is illuminating the bok choy seeds inside the pod.

Photo 3: Bok choy seed pods fully mature and brown.

Photo 4: Collecting seeds from bok choy plants

You probably have noticed that some of your plants have grown tall, flowered and formed seed pods.  Instead of cutting these plants down and chucking them in the trash or compost, harvest your seeds for your next planting.  It is easy to do, and saves you from buying more seeds.  I collected more seeds from one single bok choy plant, than what would come in an average seed packet.  I share my extra seeds with family and friends.    

How to Harvest Bok Choy Seeds

  • 5 gallon bucket or brown grocery paper bag  
  • Garden shears
  • Strainer with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch holes
  • Large bowl to catch seeds as they fall
  • Seed container (e.g., envelopes, plastic snack bags, etc.)

  1. You will know when bok choy plants are ready to form seeds when the bok choy plants grow tall and produces flowers.  These blooms will disappear and seed pods will form in its place upon pollination.  
  2. You should collect the seeds when the plant is dry so avoid collecting them in the early morning or after they have been watered.  
  3. When some of the seed pods start to turn brown, use your garden shears to cut the plant at the base of its stalk.  Note: You can wait until the pods turn completely brown to skip the drying process (step 4), however, you risk some seed pods opening and releasing seeds into the garden.  See Photo 3.  You can also cut the stalk when the pods are still green, but do not cut them too early.  If you do, you risk ending up with little to no seeds.  I chose to harvest my seeds a little early because I have a small garden, and I am eager to reuse that garden space.  See Photo 1.  
  4. Tip: To find out whether your seed pods have seeds in them, hold them up against the sunlight.  Turn the pod so that the sun will hit the pod in a way that illuminates the contents inside.  If you see round seeds inside about (about 1/8" in diameter), you can cut the pods off for drying.  See Photo 2.   
  5. After you cut the stalks, place them in the bucket or paper bag upside down.  Allow the seeds to completely dry out in a cool, dry location.  
  6. You may notice that some of the seeds have already been released in the bucket or paper bag during the drying process.  This is a good sign.   Place the strainer over the large bowl.  Then take a seed pod and use your hands to split it in half lengthwise to release the seeds.  You may have to twist or rub the pods a little to work the seeds loose.  The small brown seeds will fall through the strainer into the bowl, but bigger pieces of debris will remain in the strainer.  After you break your last pod, dump the rest of the contents of the bucket or paper bag into the strainer to collect any remaining seeds.  See Photo 4.
  7. Remove the strainer.  Then pour the seeds into your seed container.  Label the seeds with its name and date collected.  Then store seeds in a cool, dry location until you are ready to plant them in the garden.    

Last Updated: July 25, 2011


Geoff said...

i want to know if I can cut down my bok choy to let the seeds dry out, or if it needs to stay in ground. Its very big and would like to make room.

Lina said...

Hi Geoff. What great looking plants you have! It was hard seeing the individual seed pods, but it looks like some of them are ripe for picking. The mature seed pods (ready for picking) will be bumpy. It will look like the round seeds are bulging from the inside. Compare this to the immature seed pods that are smaller and smoother. Not all of your seed pods will mature at the same time so you should harvest your plant as soon as you have enough mature seed pods to meet your needs. I hope this helps.

Lina said...

I discovered another trick today. Hold up the seed pods against the sunlight, and adjust its position so that you can "see through" the pods. If the seed pods are mature enough you will see round seeds inside the pod.

Anonymous said...

Great Post ..Thank you. I have about 4 large plants that have many many pods. maybe 200 each plant and so I am excited to have 1,000's of question though? Do you know how long the bok choy seed is viable for? I know each Vegetable seed has different lengths of viability...thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Hi, when I've harvested the seeds, do you then remove the original plant entirely and start again from seed, or will it continue to grow? Thanks!

Frankie said...

I just cut down my bok choy with tons of good seed pods that need to dry. BUT there are a ton of aphids on the plant. What should I do?

Kate said...

Frankie- you may have realized by now that this blog is "dormant" - aka the writer hasn't made a new post since 2013. While you're probably done with your bok choy seed collecting at this point, I thought I'd comment that I am having the same problem! Aphids AND mealy bugs. I am hoping to collect bok choy seeds myself.

I have been pinching or clipping the flower buds and stems where bugs are present. I am spraying other plants with a dish soap solution, but trying to avoid open flower areas and flowers that I want to collect seed from. I doubt a mild dish soap solution would harm the seed collecting process, but truly cutting your losses can sometimes be easier than trying to eradicate the bugs other ways.


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