Growing carrots from carrot tops indoors is a simple, fun and educational activity for young gardeners that requires no special equipment or skill. Adults can also appreciate the leafy plant that grows from the carrot tops as it can be used in salads and produces decorative foliage. Note that you can’t grow carrots, the root vegetable, from carrot tops -- once the carrot top is cut off it will not grow into another carrot. The carrots you are growing are carrot leaves or greens.
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Things you need
- Sharp knife
- Saucer or small plate
Cut about 2cm, or about one inch, from the top of a carrot. You should use a carrot that has some sprouts or shoots showing. Slice the carrot evenly so it will easily stand up on a plate.
Place the carrot sliced side down on a saucer or small plate filled with a small amount of water that just reaches the base of the carrot slice. Using a layer of marbles and filling water up to the top of the marbles helps children judge the correct amount of water. You can also stick a toothpick in both sides of the carrot top and balance it on the rim of an old glass filled with water that touches the bottom of the sliced carrot.
Leave the carrot tops in the water for a few days in a light place indoors, such as a windowsill. Top up the water little by little as it evaporates. Leaves will start to appear from the carrot top in a few days.
Lay a number of sheets of newspaper on a small plate or shallow dish and wet the newspaper with a little water. The newspaper should be soaked through but the plate should not have any standing water. You can also use a thin layer of cotton wool soaked with water.
Cut 2cm or about one inch from the top of a carrot and place the sliced end of the carrot stub on the wet newspaper. Make sure the carrot piece won't fall over. Use carrots with some sprouting leaves that are in good condition and not old or mouldy.
Make sure the newspaper is kept moist, adding more water if necessary. Grow the carrots for a few days in a light place such as a windowsill until the carrot tops sprout. Carrot tops produce a decorative foliage and may even flower.
Choose a selection of carrots from which to grow your carrot tops. Cut 2cm or about one inch from each carrot top with a knife. Make sure the carrot top has some leaves or shoots but not too many.
Sink the carrot piece into a layer of damp soil in a bowl or saucer. Build the layer of soil so it comes a few millimetres up the carrot stump and doesn't bury it. You can also use damp sand.
Keep the carrots in a light place indoors, out of direct heat and sunlight. Water the soil or sand so it doesn’t dry out. Watch for the shoots appearing from the top of the carrot in a day or two.
Tips and warnings
- Once the carrot shoots have appeared from the carrot tops you can make a hanging carrot garden by hollowing out the carrot stub, pushing a toothpick through the bottom of the carrot, hanging it upside down in a sunny window and filling the hollow with water. The carrot leaves will grow upwards, producing a decorative effect.
- If the carrot tops flower you may be able to harvest carrot seeds from the carrot plants you grow indoors, which can be used to grow real carrots.
- Carrot leaves or greens can be eaten raw in salads, used as a soup ingredient or added to sauces and eggs.
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