ECHOcommunity Conversations

Saving Seed in Jamaica

I was recently at the Echo Farm in Florida and purchased some fantastic seed and of course their proper names are eluding me. One was a yard long bean that has done very well on my farm in Jamaica that is purple in color. The other was Ethiopian Kale. Id like to save the seeds of both and wondering of how to do it for these two varietals. Thanks!

Hi Liz! We are happy to hear that these crops are doing well for you in Jamaica.

It is easy to save yard long beans. Just leave some of the best looking pods on the plant until the pods dry down and feel thin and papery instead of fleshy. The seeds inside the pod should be mostly dry as well. You can dry the pods further in a warm place with airflow, then shell them, and then dry the seeds further until you can’t leave a dent in the seed with your nail. Store them in an airtight container somewhere cool and dry. If the seeds are still a little moist, you can put some dry rice or silica gel beads in the container with the seeds. If you are trying to keep a specific variety of yard long bean (like the purple one), make sure they are grown at least 50 feet away from other yard long bean or cowpea varieties (these are the same species, Vigna unguiculata, and can easily cross pollinate).

Ethiopian kale will send up flowers and seed pods if you let the plant continue to grow and don’t harvest many the leaves. I harvest the seed pods when they start to dry and turn brown on the plant. The seeds instead should be a dark brown color. The pods will easily pop open when they are dry, so be sure to collect the pods before the seeds pop out. Dry the pods further in the sun on a tarp. You can put the dry pods in a bag, or wrap them in a tarp, and beat the bag/tarp with a stick to get the seeds to pop out of the pods. After winnowing out the chaff, dry the seeds further in a place that is shaded, warm, and dry. Same storage as the yard long beans.

After storing the seeds, you may want to do a simple germination test to make sure the seeds are still viable. Just plant 20 seeds in the soil, or wrap them in wet paper towel, and see how many germinate after 3-7 days.

Let me know how it goes!

Holly Sobetski


Thank you so much this is so helpful and thorough!

I let a few pods stay on the vine to save the seed as you directed but I notice some of them got hugely fat and turned almost white and limp. Seems a fungal disease? Have you seen this?

Could you send a photo? Usually the pods get really plump and then dry down.

Holly, weh yuh deh ina Jamaica? If it’s still an issue I’d be happy to help. I have a number of seeds as well.

St Elizabeth. Where r u?

Oh okay, I am in Portland.

What are you up to in Portland? I’m there often. Lemme know what you’ve been growing/what project(s) you’ve been working on. Liz

I’m a volunteer so I have a number of projects going on. I have some things planted out, have some work to do as my own garden is a bit neglected while I work on everyone else’s. :slight_smile:

Who are you volunteering with? I’d love to see your garden when I’m in your neck of the woods.

I’ll message you about it

Actually I do not know how to do that yet haha. But yes when you are around let me know. I’d like to see what you’re doing as well.