Never Buy Seeds Again – How to Collect Carrot Seeds

Never Buy Seeds Again – How to Collect Carrot Seeds


Hi, I’m Gardener Scott. Many of us grow carrots in our home gardens and almost all of us buy packets of seeds for those carrots. With a little bit of patience, you can collect your own carrot seeds and forego having to ever buy a packet again. Join me as I show you how to collect carrot seeds. Believe it or not, collecting carrot seeds is not as easy as you might think. They’re not like a lot of the other plants you grow in your garden. First, carrots are biennial plants. That means they’re going to flower in their second year of life. So the first year you’re growing carrots you might get big beautiful bushy plants, but no flowers. And no flowers means no seeds. So you have to grow carrots for two years to get these beautiful flowers to produce seeds. For most gardeners in most gardens I would recommend go ahead and buy the package of carrot seeds, sow them, and have a crop that same year. But if you find a variety that’s special, you might want to take the extra time to collect the seeds yourself. Now, these carrots are a variety called Cosmic Purple. And I was given just a few seeds of the Cosmic Purple a year ago by a gardener friend of mine. Now, I could have sown those seeds, grown the carrots, and harvested six or seven purple carrots and that would have been the end of it. But I wanted a lot more than six or seven carrots. So last year those carrots that I planted stayed in the ground over the winter. And this spring they popped up with absolutely no problem. And now in midsummer I have dozens and dozens of these carrot flowers and I will have thousands and thousands of carrot seeds to carry me into the future with a lot of Cosmic Purple carrots. You may think there were a lot of carrots growing in this bed, but if you look, this is just one carrot right here. And from this one purple carrot I count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 stems coming off of just this one plant. Over here is another one with a similar number of stems coming out of it. And over here is another. So there’s just a few carrots planted right here, but there’s probably close to 50 stems coming from just these few carrots. Each of those stems will branch and split and eventually give you a flower at the tip. On just this one stem alone I counted close to 25 flowers. And on each of these flower heads I count between 50 and 60 of these smaller clusters of little white flowers. And each of these clusters has somewhere between 30 and 40 individual white flowers. That means if you do the math, we’ve got dozens upon dozens upon dozens of seeds. As each of these little white flowers mature a little seed will develop. This green head right here isn’t immature. It’s actually the next stage. The white flowers will turn into individual seeds. Now, all we need to do is wait, let them dry, and they’ll be ready to harvest. So you can see you don’t need a lot of carrots to collect a lot of seeds. Just leave a couple extra carrots in the ground at the end of the season and the next year you’ll have a lot of seeds. Each carrot will give you about 15 stems and each of those stems will give you 25 umbels and each of those umbels… probably between 30 and 50 flower clusters. And each of those flower clusters has ten or 12 flowers and each of those flowers will turn into a seed. That’s a lot of seed by just saving a couple carrots at the end of the season. After a few weeks, these flower clusters loaded with seeds will be dried and ready to harvest. I just take what used to be the flowers, cut them off the stem, and then drop them into the paper bag. Not all of the flower clusters will dry on the plant at the same rate so leave the ones that are still green and only take off the ones that have dried. With all of these flower clusters ready it may take a little while, but you want to try to get as many of these as you can if you want a lot of seeds. Now that I have a bag of dried carrot umbels I’m ready to begin the process of separating them into individual seeds. I like to set up a work space with lots of room. I’ll lay down the newspapers and then collect the couple tools I’ll need to make this process a little easier. So let’s begin by taking out one of the individual umbels. Even when dried it still holds its basic shape and if you look closely you’ll be able to see the individual seeds. Each of the seeds resemble a little burr. You can actually see the little sharp points that are sticking out from each of the Individual seeds. And remember, each one of these at one point was one of those little white flowers. By allowing the seeds to dry on the plant you can see how easy they are to brush off onto a plate. Just by using my fingers I’m plucking off the tips and letting the seeds fall onto this plate. This one umbel has given almost a plate full of seeds and there’s still more to pluck out. You want to try to be careful and leave as much of the big pieces of the umbel in place. That just saves the cleanup later on. As you do this you’ll notice some of the seeds are bouncing onto the newspaper that’s one reason why I set it up, just to help with the cleanup later on. I don’t know the exact count but there are hundreds of seeds here from just the one umbel and remember I’ve got dozens of umbels. And so now I just repeat the process… taking a dried umbel loaded with seeds and then just using my fingertips, brush them off onto the plate, trying to leave behind the dried structure. And I’ll just toss this into the compost pile later on. This does take quite a while, but remember you’re dealing with thousands of seeds, which will grow thousands of carrots. So you’ll be able to have ample carrots for many seasons to come. It’s worth spending a little bit of time now to benefit later on. It won’t take long before your plate begins to fill with all these seeds. So, I like to move in stages. This is the first stage… collecting the seed. Now, we’ll move on to the next stage which is cleaning the seed. These seeds are ready to use exactly as they are. In fact, you could plant them as they are now and expect to get carrots. But if you’re going to store them for the long term and with thousands of seeds I’m planning on storing them, you want to remove that outer layer. Remember I pointed out those little hairs, those little spikes? For long-term storage to be able to put a lot of seeds in a smaller space you should try to get rid of that outer shell. The first way I do this is just to use the seeds themselves as basically little pieces of sandpaper against each other. And I’ll just rub the seeds against each other in my hands. And this will separate most of those little hairs away from the seed. This technique works really well to clean up the seeds, but all that chaff falls right back into the plate and at some point we’re gonna have to separate the chaff from the seed. So I prefer to use a second technique and this is where the sieve comes in. So I’ll take another plate and the sieve. Now I’ll drop the seeds into the sieve and I’ll just work the seeds around the inside. Now instead of the seeds rubbing up against each other as the only way to remove those outer hairs the roughness of this screen does the same and what happens is all the chaff falls through the screen onto this plate. And now this chaff can be discarded and what’s left behind is mostly seeds inside the sieve. There’s still some bits of stem that remain inside this sieve. So at this point,I’ll use my colander. I’ll place it over another plate and then just dump those seeds in. The seeds will fall through and some of the larger pieces will remain behind. There might be a couple very small stem pieces that fall through the colander at this point but they’re very easy to pick out. And what’s left behind is cleaned carrot seeds ready for storage or planting. If you don’t have a sieve or a colander or choose not to use them, you can turn to a fan or go outside on a windy day. After you’ve rubbed the seeds together and gotten all that outer layer to separate. In windy conditions, or with the fan, just drop the seeds on to the plate and all those little bits of chaff will blow away. It’s a little bit messier, but just as effective. Some of the heavier bits of stem will still fall onto the plate, just like the colander. You just pick them out and you’ve got clean seed. I still have a lot of work to do to collect the rest of the seeds from this bag, but really this process started a year ago. So another hour or so really isn’t that bad. There you have it. How to collect carrot seeds. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know below. If you haven’t subscribed to the Gardener Scott channel you can do so now. And if you like the video you can give me a thumbs up and share it. I’m Gardener Scott. Enjoy gardening.

45 thoughts on “Never Buy Seeds Again – How to Collect Carrot Seeds

  1. Just a suggestion….the mesh size of the seive and colander would be a significant piece of information…great informative vid

  2. I live in a Zone 5a and I'm wondering what would happen if I didn't remove the hair from the seed and broadcast the hairy seeds at the time of harvesting the seed. Does the hairy coating protect the seed through the winter and start growing earlier in the spring?

  3. Very informative thank you. Just one question, you know the carrot plants will they regrow seeds after you cut of the seeds or do you discard them completely?

  4. Hey Gardner I was amazed by watch this video is this legal in all countries?
    How did you planted the old carrot plant?by using market seed or your own seed?
    I surely gonna try this,reply to my comment!

  5. Great video. Did I miss it or can you tell us how you store the seeds? Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise with us.

  6. I normally would say that you are correct however I have flowers on multiple carrots, 6 months old, 1st year.

  7. I went outside on a really windy day and when I dropped the seeds the wind blew everything away. Now I'll have to start over and wait another 1.5 years.

    Lol I'm joking, but great video!

  8. I think I got lucky or something, some of my carrots are making flowers and they haven't been in for barely a year. dont know why, but Im fine with that, gonna collect the seeds

  9. Wow. That was very very helpful information.!!
    Also, as an fyi, i tried to grow carrots from a carrot end (bought store carrots, ate them, and shoved the cut-off ends into my garden). The stems grow quickly and produce flowers immediately (not biannual). I dont know if any carrots grew (yet) or if they even will at all by that method.
    BUT, if it's flowers and seeds you're after, for sure just plant a used carrot end and you will definitely get flowers.

  10. i took an old carrot i was going to throw away…planted it. it grew flowers and i am collecting the seeds…less than one year…because i let the previous carrot grower..put in the first year….leaving me just the flowering stage…of course…oregon weather helps…experiment…for there is much to learn

  11. I did a average multiplication and came up with 168,750 k seed potential just from 1 plant going by what you said…..Pretty amazing..great video and I do plan on trying this next year.

  12. We are in warm climate in southern California- this is strange but must have to do with our weather. We planted carrots in November 2018 and we do get cold temps inland at night in winter. left some of my carrots in ground too long and suddenly they are blooming and I have seeds now as of August 6, 2019 – only 10 months later! variety is Danvers Half Long and is Heirloom. Bees pollinated they loved the flowers! So I guess if you have continuous growing season with some cold nights in there you get seed sooner than two years!

  13. Thank you for this!
    Question: Is it two full years or two growing seasons for biennials? I'm in Southern California and wonder if I can speed it up. (Ha! I don't even have my first carrots yet, but I'm already impatient.)

  14. My next new word… umbrell. I can honestly say, I have never seen a carrot flower/bloom before. They look very similar to Queen Anne's lace. Great video!

  15. Nice garden n information. I have grown carrots and will collect seeds. Thanks for sharing video. Happy gardening sir.

  16. Thank you for the informative video. One question in warm country all year round will i get carrots flowers?

  17. dude, this is very entertaining and informative to watch.. i drink my tea and eat my biscuits while watching this..

  18. Probably a silly question but if you knew about my black thumbs (not black rich soil either) you'd understand lol but when I plant the seeds – could you explain that process? do I plant 1 seed every so far apart or just create a trench an pour some in? I am planning my first official garden for this spring and now I want to do carrots 🙂 Hope springs eternal lol – Great video by the way.

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