Ready to Regrow Some Carrot Tops?
What this question's really asking is, are you ready to experience a little garden magic? Because regrowing fresh and delicious food from kitchen scraps is nothing short of magic.
Now, before you get too excited, notice the title of this project says "carrot tops" not "carrots." Unfortunately, it's not possible to regrow an entire carrot tap root, the orange part you typically eat, from just a kitchen scrap. If you thought this project would be exactly like regrowing celery or green onions, I'm sorry to disappoint.
So, while I can't promise that you'll never have to buy carrots from the grocery store again, I can tell you that you can regrow the carrot greens (also called the carrot plant) and, if you'd like, save your own carrot seeds. These carrot seeds will, of course, produce new carrots if planted... so maybe you won't ever have to buy carrots again!
Whatever the results, this is a fun indoor gardening project that'll show you results in just a few short days and teach you a bit more about plants and how they grow.
Here's What You'll Need to Regrow Carrot Tops
- carrots with the greens still attached (organic, if possible)
- a kitchen knife
- room-temperature water
- a wide, flat-bottomed bowl
Once you've got your supplies, follow these super simple steps to regrow carrot greens from carrots that you bought from the grocery store.
Steps to make garden magic happen
Directions to Regrow Carrot Top Greens
Follow these simple steps to turn your kitchen scraps into carrot greens.
Use your knife to cut about an inch down from the carrot top. Get rid of the majority of the existing carrot greens by peeling back the leaves and removing all but the center ones. Cut the greens so that they're only an inch long.
Place your carrot stumps in the bowl filled with a centimeter or two of room-temperature water. Set this bowl in a window that gets direct sunlight.
Prepare for garden magic!
Over the next few days, you'll notice the carrot tops will start to sprout new leaves from the center.
Change the water in the bowl every two to three days.
After a few weeks, you'll have new carrot greens coming from the original carrot tops that are about five to six inches tall. Again, you're never going to get a new carrot from this method. The tap root is done growing, but you will notice plenty of small white roots growing from the bottom of the carrot stumps. And, you'll get some carrot greens.
Once you see a good amount of roots forming below the stump, transplant your carrot plant into a container filled with nutrient-rich soil to continue growing. The foliage looks a bit like fern leaves and makes for an attractive plant to keep in a windowsill or on your patio.
The carrot tops will eventually form pretty little white flowers that will produce seeds. You can collect these seeds for next year's garden. If your store-bought carrots were hybrids, then any carrots you grow from those seeds won't be like the original. It's still fun to plant them in your garden bed and see what kind of carrot you can pull from the soil!
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Are Carrot Greens Edible?
The fun part about this project is the greens are actually edible, and they're full of all the nutrition that's in the carrots. Unsurprisingly, the green tops taste a bit like parsley and a lot like carrots. Their flavor may not appeal to everyone, but I like them. Pull some leaves from the carrot plant, and give it a taste!
You can use the greens to make carrot top pesto or carrot top chimichurri. My favorite thing to do with carrot greens is to chop them up just like I would fresh parsley and toss them into soups.
Then, you can feel good about yourself knowing you've gotten your carrot nutrition for the day.
What this garden magic teaches us
Lessons You'll Learn About How Carrots Grow
There are three things we can learn from this fun project.
Lesson one: how to tell when carrots are ready to be harvested
What is going on above the ground in your garden is indicative of what's happening below the soil, just as the white roots formed below the carrot stump while the green leaves formed above.
I have people ask me, "How do you know if carrots are ready?" all the time, and one of the best ways to tell is by looking at the greens. If the greens aren't big and full, then the tap root below probably hasn't grown very deep either.
Roots really matter, and that's true for all the plants you might grow in your kitchen garden, not just those that you're growing for their tap root. If you see a plant that looks spindly or weak, it probably hasn't developed strong roots.
lesson two: how much space carrots need in the garden
Carrots don't take up much space, needing only 2 to 3 inches in the garden. In one square foot of garden space, you could grow 16 carrots if you wanted to.
Carrots do, however, take a lot of time. The carrot seeds that you'll produce from your green tops are teeny tiny, so you can imagine how long it might take for one of those to produce a whole tap root after being pushed into the ground. And unlike salad greens, where you can harvest leaves as they grow, you'll have to wait for that tap root to completely form if it's the carrot you're after.
Carrots usually take about three months in the garden, and if they're not getting a lot of sun, they're going to take longer than that.
lesson three: how much better homegrown produce is
The third thing that we can learn from this project is that when you grow your own food, you get to enjoy so much more of the plant than you do when you just buy it from the grocery store.
I've never felt a desire to eat carrot greens from store-bought carrots because they look horrible. But when I pull carrots straight from my garden, the greens are lush and fresh and so delicious. The more that I can do in my kitchen garden, the more I get to enjoy the fullness of the foods rather than just the orange part, like the typical little carrot that I get from the grocery store.
This is true for a lot of produce: so much more of the plant is edible (and good for you!) than just the thing they sell at the store.
Regrowing Your Own Carrot Tops Is Making Garden Magic
The more that we can grow in the garden right outside of our back door, the more that we're going to get to experience the fullness of the foods that are so good for our bodies. Plus, that homegrown flavor is so much better. So do a little garden magic and see how many carrot stumps you can get to produce new leaves.
Thanks for helping me bring back the kitchen garden one indoor garden project at a time!
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