It Starts in the Winter
After the summer and fall are past and the weather goes cold, any carrot remaining in the ground will begin the process of bolting, or going to flower, and then seed. This is the beginning of the reproductive life of your carrot plant.
As the winter weather wears on, the greens of your plant will die and fall off; this is not detrimental to the carrot. Frost and cold, and even the freezing earth, are all a part of the carrot’s development cycle. At this point, the plant is storing large quantities of sugar in its root to survive the winter.
Once Spring has Sprung
When spring arrives, your carrot plant will begin to awaken. Most notably, it will be putting out green top foliage, which will develop stems topped with umbel flowers. The activity of spring is happening underground, too, with the carrots’ roots growing again to feed the flower.
Beautiful and lacy, these carrot flowers will, later in the year, develop seed you can harvest.
Once your carrot plant has developed flowers and produced seeds it will, if left alone, send those seeds out into the world to grow on their own. Once dried on the plant, the seeds can be carried on the wind to implant themselves elsewhere.
You can interfere with this process and harvest the seeds from your plants. To do this:
- Allow the seed pods to develop undisturbed throughout the summer.
- The pods will begin to dry out; leave them alone until they are about 75% dried.
- Now, cut the flowers and a length of stem from the plant, and place them upside down in a brown paper bag.
- Set this aside and allow the pods to continue to dry completely.
- When the seed pods are totally dried, you can shake the stems inside the bag to shake the mature seeds loose.
Once the seeds are freed from their pods, you can discard the stems or add them to your compost pile, and store your seeds in an airtight container until the next planting season. By allowing a few of your carrots to go to seed each spring, you can fill your garden with fresh, tasty carrots for years to come.