Where do Carrot Seeds come From? | Collecting Carrot Seeds

Garden Troubleshooting

Where do Carrot Seeds come From? | Collecting Carrot Seeds

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in the garden. However, when harvesting your carrots, you will not find any seeds on the carrot plants nor within the carrots themselves. This begs the question, where do carrot seeds come from?

So where do carrot seeds come from? Carrot seeds come from carrot flowers. Carrots are biennial plants that will flower and produce seeds in their second year of growing. Most carrots are harvested the same year they are planted which means they never have a chance to flower and produce seeds.

While most gardeners harvest their carrots before they flower and produce seeds, growing carrots in order to harvest their seeds is a simple process anyone can do. In doing so, you can save up carrot seeds for years to come and never have to buy carrot seeds from the store again!

Getting Seeds from you Carrots

As stated earlier, growing carrots for their seeds is a simple process; however it takes a little bit more time since carrots are biennial plants. This means that it takes two full years for the carrot to complete its life cycle.

When we harvest carrots for consumption, they are only in the middle part of their lifecycle and aren’t finished growing yet. However, if left in the garden, carrots will continue to grow but will go dormant when winter rolls around. Next spring, the carrot’s stems and leaves will grow back larger than ever before. At this point, the carrot will start to produce flowers.

Carrot flowers can be identified by their small, white blossoms that shoot out from the stems of the plant. There are hundreds of tiny flowers that make up an “umbel” which is a cluster of flowers on the plant. The flowers are very similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s lace; also known as the wild carrot.

When the carrot flowers start to become dry and withered, this is when the seeds can be harvested and replanted for next season. To harvest the seeds, simply cut off the carrot flowers from the stems and shake each flower so that the seeds fall out of the blossoms.

Naturally, when the carrot plant reaches the end of its life cycle, it will dispense the seeds from within the flowers onto the ground. The seeds are then germinated and produce the next generation of carrots. Since we are manually harvesting the seeds, make sure to have a vessel such as a bag or a plate to collect the seeds that drop from the flower. Did you know that one carrot plant can produce over 10,000 carrot seeds?

Storing your Carrot Seeds

Once you have your carrot seeds collected, you can store them away to be planted for next season. To store you carrot seeds, first let them dry out to prevent mold. Once they have dried out, store the seeds in an airtight vessel and keep the seeds in a cool, dark environment. Storing your carrot seeds like this will allow them to have a shelf life of up to 6 years.

Can you Harvest a Carrot once it Flowers?

Carrot Flower Blooming

While there is nothing stopping you from pulling up a carrot after it flowers, the carrots themselves become woody and lose their flavor once they begin to bolt. When carrots begin to flower, the sugars housed within the carrots are used to develop the seeds. This leaves the roots to become flavorless with a tough, woody texture.

Because of this, it is recommended that you harvest all the carrots you plan to eat within the first year they are planted and leave a few in your garden to develop flowers so that you can harvest seeds the following year.

How Big do Carrot Plants get once they Flower?

When growing carrots that will bolt and flower, the plant will grow significantly larger than a standard carrot that is harvested within the first year. Carrots that flower can reach heights anywhere between 1 to 4 feet (30-120cm) high. If space is a concern, cutting off some of the stems can significantly reduce the space a carrot plant takes up.

Conclusion

So next you plant some carrots in your garden or purchase a packet of seeds from your local nursery, just remember that with a little bit of extra patience, your carrots will flower and you will have more carrot seeds that you’ll know what to do with. Better yet, you will never have to worry about buying carrot seeds again!

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