If you’d rather not have to buy carrot seeds every year, you can easily save money and grow and harvest your own! Seed saving isn’t as hard as it seems and can be a fun way to recycle and stay self-sufficient. Carrot seeds are also used as a spice and can add a layer of flavor to many dishes.
When to harvest carrot seeds
Carrots are a biennial plant meaning they only produce seeds after the second year of growth. So while you won’t be able to harvest the plants that you get the seeds from, you will reap the rewards with thousands of seeds to use in the coming seasons.
Once they overwinter and the carrot plant grows for another full season, the seeds will mature. It’s at this point that you can harvest your seeds.
How to save carrot seeds
When planting your seed carrots, plant them like you would a standard harvestable carrot. About 1/4 inch into the soil and one inch apart will allow the baby carrot plants space to breathe while giving you a higher chance of germination without losing space. Once the baby carrots have sprouted, check to see which are the strongest and biggest and thin out the rest to allow the bigger plants to flourish. Planting can be made easy with tool sets like these.
It’s recommended to save seeds from at least five different carrot plants. This ensures that you will get a wide range of hardiness and genetics for your next batch of carrots. When planning out your garden for the year, set aside five plants that will be dedicated to your seed-saving endeavor.
Additionally, if you will be attempting to harvest a variety of carrot species, it will be necessary to space them far enough away from each other that there will be no cross-pollination. This will result in hybrid carrot plants that could end up being unhealthy or unsuccessful in germination or growing. It’s recommended that you separate them at a significant distance — about 10 to 20 yards.
Do not harvest your seed plants when harvest season comes around. Allow your seed carrots to overwinter. Mulch them up once the stems have died off to give them an extra layer of protection.
If you’re in a climate where the winters are especially harsh, you will want to gently pull up your seed plants and store them in a cool, dry place. Bag them up in a perforated plastic bag in a ventilated container. Line the container with sand or dry leaves or wood shavings to act as a blanket to keep them cool and dry. Then when spring rolls around, you can plant these back into the ground with their carrot tops showing — and then wait.
Plant these overwintered carrots about 24 to 48 inches apart. The carrots will continue to grow, and their greens will get bushier and taller. You’ll notice flowers appear and fade, and then the plant will begin to turn brown. This is when you will want to harvest those carrot tops that include the seeds. Dry these out in a protected area where no moisture can get to the carrots for two weeks.
Once the seeds are dry, rub the plant between your hands to work the seeds out. They will begin to fall, so be ready with a bowl or plate to catch all those precious seeds.
Now you have thousands of carrot seeds ready for next season. To store them, gather them into an airtight container so no moisture can get to them. Carrot seeds can be viable for up to 6 years if stored correctly, resulting in fresh and tasty carrots for years to come.
Saving carrot seeds is easy and saves money on seeds every year. Simply overwinter your carrots and allow them to bloom and fade, then harvest those seeds. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh, homegrown produce in salads, soups, and dishes to make you glad you took the time to harvest your own carrot seeds!
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