Around about this time last year, on the advice of a friend, I replanted the tops of three carrots I had earlier pulled from my garden and prepared to go with tea. The whole purpose of the exercise was to try and regrow the tops, to produce home grown seed for subsequent seasons. As carrots flower during their second season, I either had to leave a couple of roots from the 2013 carrot crop in the bed for flowering this year (not my preferred option as I hadn’t got many carrots to start with) or try this method. If you decide to attempt to grow seed from just the carrot tops, it is important to remember to leave the leaves attached and not to chop them off during food prep’. You must also remember leave at least 1 inch of actual carrot attached to the leaves, to give your carrot tops the best chance of rooting. Details of the progress of my carrot top plantings can be found here.
I have been waiting patiently over the last couple of months, for my carrot flowers to start turning brown and fianlly, last Thursday (11th September) I decided that the time was right for me to harvest the carrot flowers. One of the flowers had turned almost completely brown and I immediately snipped that one off and gently brushed the seed into a container ….. along with a couple of tiny baby snails (the robin was happy to see these).
The one thing that I noticed about the seeds which took me by surprise was that they had tiny little hairs all along the outer edge and bore absolutely no resemblance at all to the neat little seeds which can be found in the garden centre. Worried that I had somehow made a terrible mistake, I Googled homegrown carrot seed and discovered that carrot seed does actually look like mine but that the hairs are removed during commercial production of seed.
So with the first flower harvested, I chose three other flower heads which were starting to turn brown and snipped these and put them into the greenhouse to dry out further. Once the flower heads have dried out completely, I will gently rub the seeds off these as well. Obviously, harvesting the seed is merely the first step and I will have to wait until next spring to see if these seeds germinate and next summer to see if they produce carrots.
Once I had collected all the flower heads I needed, my last job was to uproot the parent plants and these have now been composted.