Sow seeds as early as the ground can be worked, directly into rows that are twelve to eighteen inches apart. Make successive plantings until mid to late summer. The carrot fly can be a nuisance insect but planting the herb Sage nearby is said to help repel insects.
Carrots originated in what is now Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan and by about 1000 A.D., they were being grown from India to the Eastern Mediterranean. By the 1300s, purple and yellow carrots had spread as far as western Europe and China. White and orange carrots first appeared in Europe during the 1700s. Orange carrots quickly displaced all other colors and dominate the world to this day.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). Generally, the brighter the orange color, the higher the content of beta-carotene and vitamins. High-pigment varieties are also an excellent source of antioxidants thought to help prevent cancer.
Each packet contains one gram or approximately 650 seeds.
For best results, especially with longer varieties, carrots require rich, light, well-drained soil that is free of rocks or other obstacles. In a location that receives 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight per day, loosen the area to a depth of one foot.
Direct sow seeds in spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Carrots do not transplant. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep, ½ inches apart in rows that are spaced twelve to eighteen inches apart.
Keep moist until germination occurs, usually six to twenty-one days depending on the conditions. Thin plants to one to two inches apart after the seedlings are 1½ inches tall. Water as required and keep soil cultivated to control weeds.
• If you have heavy soil with obstructions suck as rocks, pebbles, clods, even root and twigs, choose shorter varieties. If the root tip encounters resistance, it tends to split and deformed carrots result. • You can harvest carrots as early as you like but in general terms, use the specific variety's description as a guide for determining optimal or maximum size. Carrots can become woody with age. • If the soil is well-drain and you are in an area with mild winters, late sown carrots can be allowed to remain in the garden and harvested as needed. Cold weather can actual result in sweeter carrots.
If you are a new seed saver, producing carrot seeds is probably not the place to start. As an insect pollinated plant, in order to maintain purity, you can only grow one variety, or isolate varieties by at least on-half mile. Additionally, all cultivated carrot varieties will readily cross with wild carrots (Queen Anne's Lace) so this must be taken into consideration.
An alternative to maintaining isolation distances is to cage each variety in large, specially designed structures, each with its own population of pollinating insects. Some success can be had by caging and hand pollinating but in general, only a small percentage hand pollinated flowers tend to produce seeds.
As a root crop, as well as a biennial, the preferred method of production is referred to as the "seed-to-root-to-seed" method. Simply put, seeds are sown in the spring, allowed to grow and mature, and in the fall, are dug up, sorted out with only the best, true-to-type roots kept, and then stored through the winter months in damp sand in a cool, dark location, such as a root cellar.
The roots are then replanted . If you live in a milder climate and the soil drains well so as not to rot the roots, the selected carrots can be immediately replanted in the garden and allowed to winter over instead of storing all winter.
Once the seeds have developed and the seedheads have dried down, they can be cut from the plants, allowed to fully dry on screens, if necessary, and rubbed between the palms of your hands to shatter them from the heads.
Carrot seeds have a beard that for home use, can remain and causes no negative effects with germination. However, you can clean and remove the beards by rubbing them on a fine meshed metal screen. Carrot seeds are very light so be careful when winnowing.