What are your carrot growing tips?

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ponyexpress
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What are your carrot growing tips?

#1

Post: # 24186Unread post ponyexpress
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:29 am

I’m a relative novice at growing carrots so I’m looking for advice from you veteran growers. Here is a picture of my carrot bed.
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I’ve done two plantings of carrots. In both cases, I covered the seeds with straw and watered every day until they emerged. The problem are the weeds that sprout all over the bed.

I forgot to mention that the bed is sifted soil so there are no large rocks. I used hardware cloth 1/2” grid to sift.

I planted my carrots in a shallow row. I used small sticks to mark the row every 6”. This made it easier to weed so I only have to worry about the row itself when carefully weeding.

I was reading Johnny’s Seeds carrot growing guide. They suggest using a sheet of Plexiglas over some seeds so when you see that they germinate, you flame weed the bed.

At another website, I saw the advice to grow carrots in sand as there is less weeds. So maybe I can do a big furrow that I chill with sand?
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#2

Post: # 24191Unread post Whwoz
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:46 am

The main thing I would say is that carrots like any open free draining soil, does not have to be sand, a good loam will do them quite nicely. Soil needs to be friable down to at least the depth that you expect the roots to grow to, so if the variety is expected to grow to 8 inches long, I would like the soil to be open to at least 8 inches deep, preferably 12 or more. @ponyexpress what is your soil like under that raised bed and how long a carrot are you growing?

Do not over feed carrots, to much nitrogen in particular can lead to split roots. Keep the water up to them as they need it, otherwise the tops are looking good.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#3

Post: # 24193Unread post brownrexx
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:57 am

I pulled a few of my carrots this week. These are mostly Danvers Half Long with a few of a new to me variety called little fingers (they are the skinny ones).

Danvers Half Long is preferred in my area because we have very hard, clay soil if you go down more than a few inches. My garden soil have been improved over the years so I have a pretty good depth for carrots.

I sifted my soil like you did one year and I got the prettiest, most perfect looking carrots that I have ever grown. I think that you will be pleased with that.

One piece of advice that I would give it to thin your seedlings soon after they germinate. Some people just hate to pull and kill seedlings but you will get much better carrots if you do. Otherwise they will be smaller and tangled together.

I have not found weeds to be a major problem. I just pull them by hand as needed. I only have one long row of carrots so I have mulch on both sides.

Image20200630_160854 by Brownrexx, on Flickr
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#4

Post: # 24195Unread post Bower
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:03 am

I'm no expert but sign me up for tips! I'm determined to become a carrot pro, because they are a winter staple for us and also, they make a good rotation for garlic afaict.
When you say "shallow row" I assume you mean planting in furrows so that water drains into the carrot row. That's a trick I learned by chance many years ago, when I planted carrots in a raised bed but a few stray seeds germinated in the ditch next to the row... and those were the big carrots! So when I seeded carrots this year, I used the same trick of planting in shallow furrows to collect water.
My first bed this year I didn't get the germination I hoped for and ended with gaps in the rows, which I blamed on seeding too sparsely, so I lavishly seeded the other two beds, they have come up very thick and will have to be thinned. Carrot seed is so hard to handle, I can't win.
As regards the weeds, my Dad had a trick that works well - get a bag of weed-free commercial compost, use it to line your furrows and cover your seed. Your carrots or other crop come up without competition. He came up with this because of the huge weed seed bank in his ground, and it works really well.
You'll still have to weed between rows, but that is a fact of life...
I got a major seedbank added to the beds from my home compost last fall. So I've been doing a lot of extra weeding in the garlic beds. The beds in garlic rotation tend not to be too bad for weeds, because I do keep them weeded all season. But all bets are off when you add the home compost again! :roll:
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#5

Post: # 24197Unread post ponyexpress
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:26 am

I'll share a trick that my friend uses. He marks off a 3x4 area in his garden and just scatters seeds all over the bed. So he grows a big patch. As they grow, he thins them out and eats the thinnings. Grew some monster sized carrots. He doesn't have any trouble with weeds because it's an established bed. I think my problem was that it was a new bed loaded with sifted garden compost. Or it could have been weed seeds from the hay I used. Will try using salt marsh hay next time.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#6

Post: # 24198Unread post brownrexx
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:32 am

@Bower I have also found some larger carrots where seed fell outside of the row. I attribute this more to extra space than water. There is less competition for nutrients and the water that is available.

@ponyexpress If you used hay instead of straw then you will get LOTS of weeds. They will look like grass because of course hay is a grass type plant. Straw is just stems left over after the crop of seed heads has been harvested by the farmer whereas hay is the entire plant including the seeds. It is intended as animal feed but straw is typically used as bedding because it has virtually no nutritive value.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#7

Post: # 24200Unread post worth1
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:40 am

Over sow the seeds and thin often as they grow.
Use the thinned sprouts in your salads or even on a sandwich.
Every part is good to eat from green tops to bottom roots.
Too many people discard sprouts of all types.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#8

Post: # 24201Unread post brownrexx
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:42 am

I tried some tender, chopped carrot tops as a seasoning on some sauteed carrots recently and they were surprisingly good.

Here's a pic

Image20200424_171336 (2) by Brownrexx, on Flickr
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#9

Post: # 24202Unread post GoDawgs
Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:10 am

When sowing I try to be extra careful in spacing seed. It's a slow process but I'd much rather do that than thin carrots after the fact. Still, no matter how careful I am there's still some thinning that needs to be done but way less.

I used to use straw all the time for mulching but then encountered a few instances of plant damage, possibly due to herbicides in the straw. Now the only mulch that's used on everything is leaves gathered every fall. Haven't had any problems until I used some new straw left over from refreshing some outdoor kitty bedding and mulched the garlic with it. It did poorly. No straw for me ever again. And leaves are free, not $5.50 a bale. Fortunately there are a ton of leaves generated on this property and I have a bagger for the mower!

@Bower, I like that furrow technique! Might have to try it on the fall planting.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#10

Post: # 24204Unread post brownrexx
Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:44 am

@GoDawgs I see that you got the tagging feature figured out! I like leaves as mulch too but I discovered that shredded leaves are the only way to go. Unshredded leaves mat together for me and make if harder for water to penetrate. I also like grass clippings from my own organic lawn or pine needles. I mulched my garlic with pine needles and it worked great. No weeds and the water penetrated easily. We have quite a few white pine on our property so I have an easy source of needles.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#11

Post: # 24211Unread post Bower
Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:26 am

It's rainy and overcast so I went and took a few pics.
Here are the seedlings that have just come up. I love the idea of eating the thinnings - really hadn't thought of it! The furrow is not too deep but it's enough for water to drain into it all the same.
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Pics in the second bed show it better because the rain came through the row cover unevenly - that is celeriac in the tunnel too and why I used the little hoops. You can see the soil is damp just in the carrot row at the back, due to the slight furrow it's in.
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When I planted the first bed, the soil was wet and immediately afterwards we had a heavy rain. There was row cover on - I always use it at least until things germinate, but I took it off afterwards being worried about the things that eat seedlings and like cover!
Anyway you can see lots of gaps, I didn't sow enough and some mysteriously didn't make it. So I've sown some radishes in the gaps now in the Mokum rows which are for quick eatin (I hope!). As you can see, I'm not very far ahead for the time of year.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#12

Post: # 24214Unread post Gardadore
Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:46 am

Any tips on how to prevent something from eating the tiny seedlings once they germinate? Assume it is something like slugs or larva. They germinate well and then the row starts to dwindle. Just replanted again yesterday. Put a veil fabric over the row. Am also using Sluggo and Diatomaceous Earth. Had been using straw but that hid them too much so I didn’t catch the disappearance right away. Very frustrating as this is a new occurrence in the last couple of years. Always grew carrots with little trouble!
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#13

Post: # 24218Unread post GoDawgs
Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:28 am

brownrexx wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:44 am
I like leaves as mulch too but I discovered that shredded leaves are the only way to go. Unshredded leaves mat together for me and make if harder for water to penetrate. I also like grass clippings from my own organic lawn or pine needles. I mulched my garlic with pine needles and it worked great.
I think it might depend on what kind of leaves they are. If I only used live oak they'd be little leathery shields. But mine is a mix of oak, pecan, sweet gum, pine straw, etc. They get piled up and as the year goes on they break down a bit from rain, decomposition, etc. The mower blades don't really shred them but they don't mat in the beds. Pine straw by itself is a nice mulch and looks good too. ;)
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#14

Post: # 24223Unread post brownrexx
Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:59 pm

@Gardadore I never have problems with my carrot seedlings since I grow them in a fenced portion of my garden. If not in there, they would be eaten by the bunnies. I have slug damage on my beans but I use the organic slug bait and it works great.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#15

Post: # 24232Unread post Bower
Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:34 pm

@Gardadore I worry about seedling predators! We have slugs but the worst for me can be the carpenters. You probably know them as pill bugs or sow bugs, but here they're called carpenters. They congregate under any piece of wood so putting a board over the carrot seeds, not an option. And they love the row cover. I need more carrot sized little hoops, to keep it off the ground.
Last year I had a complete crop failure when I left the row cover on and... well I don't really know, I thought I had carrots pushing it up but when I took the cover off it was nothing but weeds. Could be that they ate the tender carrot seedlings and left the weeds...
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#16

Post: # 24234Unread post Gardadore
Thu Jul 02, 2020 4:18 pm

Bower, that’s a good tip: your pill bugs make sense. Good possibility. Have used the row covers other years and also had a similar problem of carrots all disappearing. Will have to be more vigilant and probably plant more densely.
Have just found some deep containers that might work as well as an alternative to in the ground. One is a vegetable bin from a discarded refrigerator and should be ideal. I will plant a few in those as well and place them in my table tent. Since there is no traveling this summer I can watch them!
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#17

Post: # 24244Unread post Whwoz
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:44 pm

A tip for those who have trouble spacing carrot seed is to get some dry sand, mix with the seed and sow using something with holes in the top that allow a steady flow of sand, if mixed well allows a more even spread of seed

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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#18

Post: # 24265Unread post ponyexpress
Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:37 am

Whwoz wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:46 am
The main thing I would say is that carrots like any open free draining soil, does not have to be sand, a good loam will do them quite nicely.
I was thinking more like a furrow with an inch of sand deep, and maybe 2 inches wide as a weed free seed bed. Another option is when I start a new bed, don't use it for a couple of weeks but water and hoe the weeds.
Whwoz wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:46 am
@ponyexpress what is your soil like under that raised bed and how long a carrot are you growing?
I'll have to dig a sample to confirm. It's rich soil but I think it's a bit clay like in the sense that it clumps together very well. I think I'm growing medium carrots: Danvers, Atomic Red, and Bolero. I did plant some parsnip seeds but they did not come up. Instead, I did a second planting of carrots.
Whwoz wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:46 am
Do not over feed carrots, to much nitrogen in particular can lead to split roots. Keep the water up to them as they need it, otherwise the tops are looking good.
I have not given them any fertilizer at all. Should I bother? 10-10-10?
brownrexx wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:57 am
One piece of advice that I would give it to thin your seedlings soon after they germinate.
Is there a particular spacing that you do for thinning? That is, how much space do you leave between seedlings?
Bower wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:03 am
When you say "shallow row" I assume you mean planting in furrows so that water drains into the carrot row. That's a trick I learned by chance many years ago, when I planted carrots in a raised bed but a few stray seeds germinated in the ditch next to the row... and those were the big carrots! So when I seeded carrots this year, I used the same trick of planting in shallow furrows to collect water.

As regards the weeds, my Dad had a trick that works well - get a bag of weed-free commercial compost, use it to line your furrows and cover your seed. Your carrots or other crop come up without competition. He came up with this because of the huge weed seed bank in his ground, and it works really well.
I'm making a shallow row for planting, not for watering but that's a good idea to consider. I have some round stakes that are long. I water the ground, and then use the stake to make a long row where I plant the seeds along the row. Then I cover it with some fine soil and then spread a thin layer of hay on top.

The idea of using weed free compost is a good one to consider.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#19

Post: # 24266Unread post ponyexpress
Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:57 am

Over at Johnny's Seeds, there is a carrot growing guide which has the following suggestion:
One of the most successful pre-emergence timing strategies, particularly for organic growers, involves placing a sheet of Plexiglass over the first few feet of a seeding, then checking it daily. As soon as you notice the carrots begin to germinate beneath the Plexiglass, it's time to flame weed, because the rest of the stand will begin emerging in 2–3 days.
It's my understanding that carrots take a long time to appear because they send out a long tap root before the cotyledon leaves appear. So in the above tip, I would think that you're waiting to see the cotyleon leaves appear, right? You might see the tap root but ignore that.

Also, has anyone tried transplanting carrots? This blog (https://www.vegetable-gardening-with-lo ... rrots.html) seems to have some great transplanting tips.
Start carrots in seed starting trays indoors, in good quality, finely textured and densely packed potting soil. Use seed starting trays that are at least 2” deep. Sow 2 seeds per cell. When the cotyledons emerge and get to be about ¾” long, carefully push the soil plug out of the tray and transplant the whole plug into the ground. If both carrots have germinated and survive transplanting, thin to one carrot.
and
This way is really tedious, but does work. The only advantage to doing it this way is that you can get 100-200 seedlings per flat instead of only 28 (or however many cells are in your flat). The disadvantage is the seedlings don’t transplant as successfully, and generally yields forked carrots.

Use the same setup as in the way shown above, but broadcast seeds so you have approximately 6-8 seeds per cell. Use potting mix that holds together well when wet, and tamp it down hard into the cells so that it will hold together when you push the soil block up out of the cell. Keep the seeds moist during the whole germination time.

When the carrot tops are about ¾” long, gently push the whole plug of starts out of the cell from underneath, and lay it on its side in a shallow container of water. Gently allow the potting mix to slump into the water, and separate out the carrots from the slurry of potting mix and water.

Lifting only by the leaves (NOT the stem), pick out the carrots seedlings and lay them on a plate with about ⅛” water on it, to keep the little seedlings wet.

In a moist garden bed, make holes spaced about 3” apart with your finger or a dibble. The holes need to be about an inch in diameter, because it is actually very difficulty to get a 2” long dangly, hairlike carrot root to go straight into the hole. It will want to cling to the side. If it clings, you’ll get a twisty weird carrot (but... that might be okay!).

When it’s in the hole to the right depth, lay it so it does stick to one side of the hole, and then backfill the hole with a little more potting mix, and water gently.
In my area, you can continue to plant carrots until August. I'm wondering with the hot weather, if the seeds will germinate well. A fellow gardener likes to use peat moss for his carrot seeds so he only needs to water once per day. Another possibility is to do carrot transplants during the hotter weather.
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Re: What are your carrot growing tips?

#20

Post: # 24267Unread post brownrexx
Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:01 am

@ponyexpress I don't have an exact measurement for spacing. I mainly make sure that I don't have seedlings right up against each other. I guess that I probably space them about an inch apart.

This year I had a few seedlings outside of the row and I got the idea to plant my seeds in a slight zigzag pattern next year. It will give more room to the developing carrots and there is no garden rule that says that the rows must be perfectly straight is there?

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