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Cloning Brassicas

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 October 2012 at 13:29
Although this would likely work with any brassica, it's usually used with the larger, thick-stemed ones like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.
 
There are two advantages to cloning. First, it allows you to actually eat the vegetable, which seed saving doesn't. And, second, there is no fear of cross-fertilization.
 
The downside is that it requires a root cellar, or root-cellar-like storage conditions. That is, someplace that stays cool but doesn't freeze, and relatively humid.
 
To clone them, harves the fruit by cutting it off as high on the stem as possible. Then carefully dig up the stem. Slice the stem, lengthwise, into four pieces, making sure there is some of the root on each piece. Store the stems, roots down, in sand, in a root celler.
 
Early next spring (as early as four to six weeks before last frost) replant the stems. They will produce new heads.
 
You could, in theory, continue this process two days longer than forever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 09:35
Thanks for the method on brassicas. I can see this working. Once I harvested the seeds on the swiss chard, I cut them off at the ground. Since then, under a cold frame, I have more swiss chard to eat from those roots, even now in late October.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2012 at 19:44
A couple of comments.
 
First off, you keep saying "chard" and I keep hearing "kale." Swiss chard is not a Brassica. Rather it belongs to the family Chenopodiaceae. Chard is Beta vulgaris, and that genus/species includes garden beets, sugar beets, mangel, and Swiss chard. So, my apologies for any confusion.
 
Like corn and spinach, chard is wind pollinated, and the pollen can travel as much as five miles.
 
I have no idea whether or not cloning would work with them. But, in your case, it apparently doesn't matter as you have a track record of them wintering over in your area.
 
As with many greens, chard is often harvested on a cut-and-come-again basis. That means, as a general rule, you take a few leaves off each plant, rather than harvesting a complete plant at one time. New leaves will grow to replace the ones you cut.
 
With a long enough season (or, as in your case, with the use of a season extender), the roots, if left undisturbed, will continue producing new foliage, even if all of it has been harvested.
 
Given where you live, I would be more comfortable with mulching the current roots, even with a cold frame. With that combination of protection there's no reason you shouldn't continue harvesting well into the winter. What I'd do is put down about six inches of straw.
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