How To Grow and Save the Seed Of Carrots
Carrots were domesticated in Central Asia, and this nutritious garden staple crop comes in so many wonderful colors!
Carrots were first cultivated for their roots in Afghanistan about 1,100 years ago. The first domesticated carrots were white, forked and hairy. Many years of breeding and refining have brought us the diversity of colors, shapes and flavors that we enjoy today.
- Many culinary uses, from soups, stews and salads to juicing!
- Sow spring seeds ⅛ inch deep, three weeks before last expected frost and every two weeks after that.
- Carrots that mature during the heat of summer will taste bitter.
Fall carrots should be sowed 75 days before the first hard frost is expected. Northern gardeners should try sowing seeds 3-4 weeks before first frost and covering with a floating row cover or heavy straw mulch; carrots will stay in suspended animation for the winter months. When spring breaks, remove row cover or mulch and enjoy the earliest and sweetest carrot harvest possible.
Keep germinating seeds consistently moist. Try covering rows with a wooden board after watering, but be sure to remove the board as soon as the seedlings emerge.
Sow carrots densely and thin plants to 1 to 2 inches apart once they have reached about 3 inches tall.
- Carrots will germinate in soil temperatures of 50-75 degrees.
- Carrots germinate in 12 to 18 days.
- Carrots require full sun and light and fluffy soil.
- It is best to double dig the carrot bed before planting and amend with well-composted manure, removing rocks that could cause carrots to become forked.
- Carrots need adequate, consistent moisture.
For heavy soils, try growing round or short varieties such as Parisienne or Oxheart.
Try inter-planting carrots with spring radishes; the radishes will be pulled out just about the time that carrots will need to be thinned, giving you twice the harvest that you would get in a carrots-only bed!
Harvest carrots after a few light frosts but before a deep freeze. Alternatively, they can be left in the ground under a heavy layer of mulch and pulled whenever you need them.
- Weeds are a main consideration with carrots!
- Try using the stale bed method before planting: Water the bed, allow the weeds to come up, and then pull them or use a flamer to kill them. Black tarps can also be used over winter to kill the first weed emergence. Remove the cover, seed the carrots, water and flame or weed by hand again before the seedlings emerge.
- Carrots are biennials; they will flower in their second season of growth.
- Carrots are insect pollinated and will need to be isolated from other varieties, including wild relatives such as Queen Anne’s Lace, by about a mile, to ensure pure seed.
- Leave just a few carrots in the ground over winter (each plant produces a lot of seed). The next season, they will produce an umbel of flowers.
- Leave the umbels on the plant in the ground until they are completely dry.
- The seeds will easily shake from the plants and can be stored for up to 3 years in refrigeration.