Win a copy of Straw Bale Building Details this week in the Straw Bale House forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
  • Pearl Sutton

Carrots bolting - saving seed?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 30
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've got a couple of patches of carrots in the ground this year and with the week of 90+ weather we had at the end of June (zone 5a in the mountains), some of the carrots are bolting. It's a purple variety, planted back in April. Everything I've seen online and in seed saving resources says not to save seed from bolting carrots but never gives a reason why. Is is because we want to try and get a harvest from the roots? Is it because the flowers will be sterile? Is it just the done thing? Is it too inconsistent for seed production?

We breed and use leafy greens that bolt so why not carrots?

Not all of the carrots in that variety are bolting and some of the others aren't bolting at all. I need to actually harvest carrots at some point but I won't be back to my field until this weekend.

I'm curious if anyone has ever done anything with them. I'm probably going to try and save them, just for fun and see what happens. Maybe they just produce carrots that bolt every summer. But maybe they just produce normal carrots. That would be a neat thing, having a carrot patch that bolts so you get seed production that produces normally. Not sure how consistent it would be but the carrots are just fun and food for me.

Thoughts?
 
master steward
Posts: 3991
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
960
books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I believe the reason is because you'd be saving and perpetuating the genes that lead to early bolting.  So if you save those bolting seeds and next year have another hot summer, maybe ALL the carrots will bolt on you and you won't get much of a harvest.

Now for self-pollinating crops (like lettuce?) I'm not sure if saving bolting seeds matters because the genes are set already and you aren't doing much selection.  I think...
 
steward
Posts: 4095
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1200
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A bolting carrot has a hard/fibrous root, that is not palatable to me.

I don't save seeds from carrots that bolt during their first year, because I want the root to have a whole growing season to swell and get larger. Once the flower stalk starts forming, the root becomes tough and inedible to me. Yield is tiny on carrots that bolt after a few months growth.

Cold temperatures often trigger carrots to start flowering in their first year... Seems to me, that it's in the ballpark of 20 F. For that reason, I don't plant carrots super early in the spring. I treat them more as a mid-spring crop.

When someone starts saving seeds, they become a plant breeder. If seeds are saved from carrots that bolt in their first year, they will be tending towards plants that bolt the first year, and turn inedible at a younger age. Or that are more susceptible to being triggered into bolting by spring frosts.

Plant breeders put tremendous effort into selecting for leafy greens that are slow to bolt.

I'm curious if anyone has ever done anything with them.



For me, it's Cull, cull, cull, cull.

carrot-seed-production.jpg
[Thumbnail for carrot-seed-production.jpg]
Carrot seed production
100_4341.JPG
[Thumbnail for 100_4341.JPG]
Butterfly on carrot flower
100_4371.JPG
[Thumbnail for 100_4371.JPG]
Carrot flowers
 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
243
forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now I'm wondering if there's a use for those culled seeds? Coriander is seeds of cilantro which is in the same family of plants. Do carrots seeds have their own spice characteristic?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1170
Location: Los Angeles, CA
219
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, save those seeds.  I've done so for years and haven't bought carrot seeds in a long long time.  

Its important that the carrots continue to get water, even though they've bolted.  Continue to give them regular irrigation so that the seeds can fully fill out.  You'll get multiple seed heads from each carrot it you do so.  Wait until the seed heads have turned completely brown, and then they are very easy to harvest: just snip off the seeds head into a big bowl or bucket.  Once the carrot is no longer producing seed heads (or you've got more than enough seeds for next year), you can cut the carrot off at the soil level, leaving the carrot in the ground to feed the soil microbes.

I keep my seeds in a paper bag so that they can continue to dry (if they are not completely dry already).

When it comes to planting, you'll have so many seeds that you'll be able to broadcast your seed rather than have to carefully drop one seed into a row at a time.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 162
Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cultivated carrots will cross with wild Queen Anne's Lace - they are both the same species.  Queen Anne's Lace has not been selected for the table; those hybrids will have small and tough roots and flower early in the same season.

Many commercial varieties are intentional hybrids between specific parental varieties created using a male sterile background.  When the offspring bloom, there is no pollen to self and any seeds result from pollen from another source.  If that is Queen Anne's Lace, then none of the offspring will have the cultivated carrot characteristics that most folks desire.  I think that's another part of the reason folks say not to save seed from carrots.

Both male-fertile and male-sterile purple carrots are available commercially, and you can tell the difference by examining the umbels carefully.  All this is to say you can save carrot seeds (I do) but you can also figure out ahead of time what your chances of success will be!
 
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
4
trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Where do you suppose the seeds you buy in the packet come from. They don't fall off the back of the turnip truck. Now I'll agree that some are hybrid, but 40% of carrot varieties sold in the Burpee catalog are heirloom seeds. The bad news is the purple ones they sell are hybrid. I've seen hybrid seed, tomatoes, turn out as cherry tomatoes. However I've had volunteers come up the following year from Celebrity, a "hybrid", tomato that I couldn't tell from the originals.

I say go for it. save some seeds see what happens. The worst that can happen is that you get Queen Ann's lace flowers on top of sweet delicious carrots.   .....I'm kidding.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4095
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1200
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Phil Gardener wrote:Both male-fertile and male-sterile purple carrots are available commercially, and you can tell the difference by examining the umbels carefully.  



Male sterile carrot flowers don't have anthers. Without anthers, they don't make pollen.


Male fertile carrot flowers look very masculine, and produce healthy looking anthers:

 
Natasha Flue
Posts: 30
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I don't save seeds from carrots that bolt during their first year, because I want the root to have a whole growing season to swell and get larger. Once the flower stalk starts forming, the root becomes tough and inedible to me. Yield is tiny on carrots that bolt after a few months growth.  



Okay! I figured there had to be a reason why. I just haven't done much with carrots except eat them when they were ready. I've also never seen them bolt in the first year before.

When someone starts saving seeds, they become a plant breeder. If seeds are saved from carrots that bolt in their first year, they will be tending towards plants that bolt the first year, and turn inedible at a younger age. Or that are more susceptible to being triggered into bolting by spring frosts.  



I've done a lot of reading about plant breeding but book learning can only take me so far. The hardest thing for me to remember is that I can breed for negative traits, even by accident. I've done a little bit of seed saving on annuals like peas and beans and the biennial bolting definitely confused me!

Thanks everyone!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 4095
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1200
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Natasha Flue wrote:The hardest thing for me to remember is that I can breed for negative traits, even by accident.



I do a lot of inadvertent plant breeding: Selecting for traits that I didn't know I was selecting for... Things like earliness are obvious. Other traits are not so simple to observe. For example, one year, I trialed a whole bunch of new tomato varieties. They sucked, cause the fruits would lay on the ground and rot... (I don't trellis tomatoes). That caused me to really observe my tomatoes to see what was going on... I had inadvertently been selecting for tomatoes that stood more upright, and kept the fruits off the ground. If they don't touch the ground, then they don't experience ground-rot.

One year I introduced the "exploding fruits" trait into my watermelons. Ooops. While it's a fun trait, and I'm glad that it played in my garden, I didn't feel inclined to keep it in the population.
 
Posts: 214
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Must be going around. I planted some black-skinned radishes from seed and had one of 'em bolt already at 4-5 weeks old. :(  Didn't have any carrots bolt tho some of the onions did.
 
Posts: 4
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All vegetable are hybrids, breeder started crossing them in the 1700,1800 & 1900's.
I have a book that tells the history of breeder in Europe & North America.
So heirlooms are all stable hybrids, even if they were first bought in 1700's.
I think saving carrot seeds is a good ideal.
If you grow corn on both sides of the seed plants it will make it hard for the crossing of wild plants.
 
Rez Zircon
Posts: 214
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:One year I introduced the "exploding fruits" trait into my watermelons. Ooops. While it's a fun trait, and I'm glad that it played in my garden, I didn't feel inclined to keep it in the population.


I had exploding watermelons this year. They'd get about marble-sized, then BOOM. Turns out it's not the watermelon, it's slugs. Slug chews a hole in the rind, which compromises structural integrity and the whole thing comes apart -- evidently being under internal pressure. Was able to tell on some because I could see the chew marks, and also had chew marks on smaller ones that just cracked instead of going kablooie. And caught some slugs in the act. (What's good for warding off slugs? Read up on all the usual methods and turns out when actually tested, they're mostly myths.) So I lost a few. But the ones the slugs didn't get to are about baseball-sized and are fine, from the same plants



 
master steward
Posts: 8466
Location: Pacific Northwest
3068
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids sheep foraging wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rez Zircon wrote:What's good for warding off slugs? Read up on all the usual methods and turns out when actually tested, they're mostly myths.) So I lost a few. But the ones the slugs didn't get to are about baseball-sized and are fine, from the same plants



Ducks! I have crazy amounts of slugs, living in a damp climate by a wetland. I couldn't grow much of anything until I got ducks. Now I can't find a slug if I want to!

Aside from ducks, Sluggo is the only thing that really worked. Supposedly it's organic and a soil amendment. Another thing that worked pretty well was lots of coffee grounds. But, even those just slowed the slugs down a bit.
 
Posts: 1
Location: Indianapolis
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some years ago me and my gardening cohort planted some Danvers from Seeds of Change. We got lots of yummy carrots but left about 4 to bolt, which they did. After they dried we got hundreds and hundreds of seed, many of which we gave away. The next year we planted some and got lots of yummy carrots again. As did those who planted those seeds. We had so many seeds that I put them in tiny zip-lock bags and gave them to my friend who works farmer's markets. She gave them away - "Free w/ purchase." She said that a lot of people didn't even know that carrots came from seeds!

So, start with a good heirloom and let a few go, but do keep them away from Queen Anne's Lace. I've never heard of a 2nd year carrot anyway.
 
A timing clock, fuse wire, high explosives and a tiny ad:
Best places to intern for regenerative farming?
https://permies.com/t/110826/interns-apprenticeships-internships/experiences/places-intern-regenerative-farming-permaculture
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!