Carrot Seed

Saving carrot seeds from carrots not harvested from the garden using a plastic pail, a sieve and a pillowcase to separate carrot seed from the chaff.

Saving Carrot Seeds - Sieve

Carrots not harvested will continue to grow and develop small flowers on top a seed stalk. Carrot seed forms in small clusters when the flower dies back. The seed is ripe when the umbel (seed stalk) turns brown and becomes brittle, which happens over a period of several weeks. Carrot seed can be brought indoors if the fall weather is cool and wet to ensure proper and thorough drying. Cut off the umbels and discard the stalks.

A Good Thrashing

Place the dried seed heads together into a pillowcase and tie off the open end, then take to the garage or roadway and swing the pillowcase against the hard surface several times. This will separate carrot seed from the chaff. After about 10 minutes, open the pillowcase and remove what chaff you can. Using a 5-gallon plastic pail, place a fine sieve on top of the pail. Make sure that the sieve is large enough to rest upon the rim of the pail. Now pour the contents (bits of seed and chaff) into the sieve until the sieve is partially full. Shake the sieve to release the carrot seed into the pail. You can use your hand to stir the sieve contents to speed up the process. Repeat this to get as much carrot seed into the pail as possible.

Germination

Research has shown that hand saved carrot seed has a much higher germination rate than packaged retail seed. Commercial seed producers damage large quantities of seed by removing the little hairs that surround the seed core. Don’t worry about leaving this black hair coating on your seeds however, as they allow carrot seed to collect and absorb water for germination. Store carrot seed in a sealed paper bag in a cool, dark dry place. The best temperature for carrot seed is between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.