Did you guess what the mystery seeds were last week? Here's a hint:
Yes, those spiky-looking seeds will grow into carrots.
The carrot, Daucus carota, is a biennial. That means in the first year it stores up food in its extra large root. If you leave the root in the ground and conditions are right, at the end of the second season the plant will flower and produce seeds.
This is a bud.
Starting to open...
Along come the little bees to pollinate the flowers. Don't the flower clusters look like miniature bouquets?
And then you have seeds. Why do you think the seeds have those spines on them?
If you would like to learn more about carrots, the World Carrot Museum has an entire page of excellent experiments and activities to do with carrots for kids, plus oodles of information about the history and uses of carrots.
One fun activity to do with carrots from the grocery store is to take the tops (that you cut off anyway when you eat them) and set them cut end down in a small dish of pebbles. (See the photograph above). Cover half way with water, allowing the green part to be exposed to the air. Keep the bottom covered with water and the cut tops should start to sprout.
Make this into an experiment by comparing the ability of the tops to sprout to the ability of sections further down the root. Will a "baby carrot" sprout?
This fun post is thanks to my son, who asked the simple question: Can you grow a carrot plant by planting a carrot root you buy in the store? The answer is: as long as there's some green at the top of the carrot, it will grow into a plant that produces seeds (if grown during the correct season for your climate). The root is no longer edible, but you can try planting the seeds next year.
Have you ever had a carrot plant go to seed?