The first and most important part of seed saving carrots is to ensure that you have an heirloom variety (we grow “Nantes 2” and “Chantenay”).
Heirloom seeds are old-time favorites that produce plants with the exact same traits planting after planting, season after season, generation after generation — some heirlooms date back hundreds of years, or more.
Saving seeds from a hybrid variety –such as you would buy from most garden centers– would mean that the second generation you grow isn’t guaranteed to produce the same “true to type” plant.
For the same reason, it is also imperative that different varieties of carrot are not allowed to flower at the same time — this would likely result in your carrots, or more specifically their resulting seed, having been cross-pollinated and so your second generation crop not growing true to type.
Addition: carrots can also cross with Dill and Fennel, so keeping these plants out of the picture or timing flowering so that it doesn’t occur simultaneously is also essential. In fact, both Dill and Fennel also attract carrot fly, a real scourge of the carrot’s root, so its best never to grow them anywhere near your carrot patch.
Seed Saving Carrots
Carrot flowers are “protandrous”, that is the anthers (male part) open first and shed their pollen before the stigma (female part) of that flower is receptive. They are, therefore, predominantly cross-pollinating.
We only let one variety of carrot go to seed at a time to protect ourselves from cross-pollination, but carrots will also readily cross with wild carrots (also known as Queen Anne’s Lace).
Wild carrots flowering as close as 1/2 mile (800 meters) could easily cross with ours, and to prevent this we have destroyed many a wild carrot plant on and around our land.
Carrots are biennial, meaning they root in their first year and then flower and produce seeds in their second. As touched on above, we grow two varieties of carrots each year for the roots, but only leave a small patch of one variety in the ground to overwinter which then flowers and seeds the following spring.
Note: If your winters are particularly harsh leaving the carrots to overwinter in the ground might not be the best option. Instead, lift the roots just as you would during harvest (though keep the tops on), replant them in a large container full of soil, and place this a comparatively warm spot, such as in a shed. And then, once the freeze of winter has passed, replant the carrots back out into the garden bed in the spring where they can re-grow their now withered tops, and go on to flower.
To keep things simple we have two dedicated carrot beds: one is the main bed located in “the patch” (where everything grown is for eating), and the other is a smaller bed which is situated in what we call “the nursery” (where everything grown is intended for seed).
Another key thing to remember is that you need to let a minimum number of plants go to seed in order to ensure good genetic diversity and viability.
Advice varies wildly here, but in the case of carrots this minimum number is often cited as around 10-40 plants (although more is always beneficial — some sources suggest 200+ plants are required to ensure viable seeds).
We haven’t had an issue when saving from 20-30 plants, and this number is easily achieved, even in a small bed — carrots don’t require much space at all to grow, and when flowering their stalks grow up, not out.
The Seed Saving Process
So, by the end of spring in their second year your carrots should have produced a big white flower, which is made up of lots of little flowers.
As the seeds form, the flower head will curl into itself to try and lock in any moisture — because of this, the seeds can begin to mold or rot, and you will want to harvest when brown and dry but before the flower curls right up.
Cut the dried flower heads off and hold over a large bucket or tray or the like. Using your fingers, gently rough them up and flick them about a bit. The dry seeds will fall freely from the flower and the wetter ones will be retained.
If done successfully then you will end up with a tray full of dried seeds and very little flower debris. You can pick any chaff out by hand, or you can pass the whole lot through a kitchen sieve or better yet, use the wind to separate the seed from the chaff. However, storing a little debris in with the seeds, so long as its bone dry, isn’t an issue.
Storing Carrot Seeds
Seeds can be stored in an envelope or airtight jar.
Be sure to label with the variety and the date harvested, and then keep in a cool dry place.
If stored correctly, carrot seeds can remain viable for 3 years.
Heirloom seeds, such as these Survival Garden Seeds, are a great place to start (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).
If you skipped how to grow carrots, visit the link below:
The COLD TIMES are returning, the mid-latitudes are REFREEZING, in line with the great conjunction, historically low solar activity, cloud-nucleating Cosmic Rays, and a meridional jet stream flow (among other forcings).
Both NOAA and NASA appear to agree, if you read between the lines, with NOAA saying we’re entering a ‘full-blown’ Grand Solar Minimum in the late-2020s, and NASA seeing this upcoming solar cycle (25) as “the weakest of the past 200 years”, with the agency correlating previous solar shutdowns to prolonged periods of global cooling here.
Furthermore, we can’t ignore the slew of new scientific papers stating the immense impact The Beaufort Gyre could have on the Gulf Stream, and therefore the climate overall.
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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift