icon Root Vegetables

Mother Earth News, Sep/Oct 1987
The Easiest Seed-Saving Crops
By Nancy Bubel

Like the cabbage clan, all root crops (except annual radishes) send up seed stalks in their second spring. Unless you live in a mild-winter area where root vegetables will not freeze if left in the ground under mulch, you'll have to winter your beets, carrots, winter radishes and onions in a cool, damp root cellar and replant the best ones the next spring. (On the other hand, if you live in a very warm climate, you may need to chill your root crops for a couple of weeks in a refrigerator to convince them to go to seed.)

As the exception to this rule, parsnips are the easiest root vegetable for seed saving. They're so hardy, you don't need to dig them up. Here in south-central Pennsylvania, I leave parsnips in the ground under mulch all winter, dig some for spring eating till around the end of April and then give in to their seed-forming intentions. The tall, coarse-lace flowers are cross-pollinated by in sects, and dry seed is ready around the end of July. Two plants will produce all the seed you need unless you plan a parsnip plantation.