Problems with Open Pollinated Carrots

Spring/Summer thinnings

Spring/Summer thinnings

I did a bed of multi-colored carrots this spring. I got the seed from Baker Creek and I selected a “white”, a “yellow”, a “red” and a “purple”. I don’t think much of spring carrots ( I like mature fall carrots) and so I thought that I would grow them just for color accent in meals. I bought open pollinated varieties because I am trying to avoid the big seed companies. In this case, however, there may be a good case to be made for buying carrots from major seed purveyors.

I got a LOT of duds. Duds in this case are “wild” carrot. It is inedible; not poisonous but too tough to eat. And, it wants to act like an annual. That’s how you can tell which carrots in the bed are good and which are not. The duds throw up a seed head right away.

I did some research on saving seed from carrots and here is what I found out. First, they are not self-polinating; they are pollinated by insects so you can’t isolate the seed carrot with floating row cover or such. And, you cannot have ANY other carrot variety within a radius of 1/4 mile. Actually, some instructions say 1/2 mile. Either way, that is a LONG WAY and really difficult. Such isolation is not easily within the means of even the extraordinary gardener or most farmers. You really need to kill everything that can cross pollinate with your target carrots in the radius and that means standards of growing hygiene that are only possible if you are a seed producer. It also, likely, means a lot of herbicides and mono-cultures of other species around the target plants. It makes you wonder how they were grown in pre-industrial times. There were probably a lot of dud carrots grown then. Did pre-industrial growers specialize in seed varieties? I’d like to know more about pre-industrial, locally focused, agriculture. I wonder if all of those post-apocalypse planners about now are curious about these issues too. What do seed savers think about difficult to produce seed for what are food staples. Are there tricks for difficult species?

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