Growing Carrots : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am not a great gardener. I'm trying to get better. One of the things I would like to grow is carrots. I've tried them in the past, and had only a few germinate, and those seedlings soon died. I've read that carrot seed needs even moisture, and I've thought I probably failed in this area some how. I did have a layer of fine vermiculite on the top of the bed, as was recommended in some gardening books. It still seemed to dry out REALLY fast.

I sure would like to know what methods others have used successfully for successfully germinating carrot seeds. And any other info about them through out the growing life. I am in Zone 4B. Thanks!

-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (, February 20, 2001


All seeds need to stay moist long enough to "embibe water" - it is one of the triggers they need to start growing. Carrots are such tiny seeds, they need to be planted close to the surface and still need a few days to germinate.

On the other hand, don't get too wet - or else you'll drown the seeds.

Tricky, eh?

I usually grow carrots in bunches. Kinda like square foot gadening. I'll toss a bunch of seeds in a little patch of dirt and then kind of comb the seed into the dirt. The perfect depth for most seeds is where the soil depth is five times the thickness of the seed. So for carrots, I barely touch the soil when I sort of scratch it in.

-- Paul Wheaton (, February 20, 2001.

I should have mentioned that as far as I know, the seed was fresh. I did not plant "by the moon" (though I'll try that this year). Would soaking the seeds before planting do the trick. Should I make the carrot seed tapes to help keep them moist?

-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (, February 20, 2001.

I always grow my carrots mixed with radish seed. The radishes com up and shade the little carrot seedlings, allowing them time to get established. The radishes also cultivate and thin the bed when I pull them from the carrot bed. I always get plenty of carrots this way no matter what the soil or weather is like. The radishes also remind me to keep the bed moist. This method works great. And if you think that this is too many radishes, then you haven't tried my great radish recipe. We can't keep them in the house, they get eaten so fast.

Braised radishes with spring onions.

Pick green onions and radishes. Trim both. Saute them together in a little oil or butter for several minutes until the onions begin to carmelize a little, then add about a 1/16 of a cup of water, and a couple of teaspoons of butter and cover for 3 minutes uncover and serve when all the water has evaporated. Talk about wonderful food! My kids eat this and beg for more. This is also a wonderful way to use an abundance of radishes. MMMM. I sure wish I had some radishes now.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, February 20, 2001.

Little Bit, I don't like radishes, so I haven't tried to grow them. But your method sounds interesting. I don't remember what size radish seeds are compared to carrots. What proportion do you mix them -- 1 pkt radish & 1 pkt carrot? Or something else? I take it that you also manage to have your green onions ready to be harvested at the same time as the radishes? Also do you recommend any particular radish variety (the milder the better as far as I am concerned)?

For that matter, any recommendations for carrot type would be welcomed too. Our soil here has a lot of clay, so I don't think the REALLY long carrots would be a good idea, probably the shorter types. I'm even interested in those ball shaped carrots.

-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (, February 20, 2001.

Radishes are always mild, and always lose their heat when cooked, although best eaten young when about 3/4 to an inch in size. I mix my seed about one to one. My spring onion sets are always about right when the radishes are the ready, and I always space the sets closely for just this purpose. I then thin the onions when the radishes are ready. My children wouldn't touch a raw radish, but they love them cooked like this.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, February 20, 2001.

Can't talk from much experience, but two tips I've seen for growing carrots follow - neither SEEM applicable to your case, but they're worth thinking about anyway.

1). Carrot seed is very fine and light, and tends to stick together. Mix it with dry sand before sowing to get more even seed distribution. I know this works.

2). If you want leaves, use nitrogenous fertiliser. If you want carrots, don't (much) - use potassium (mostly) instead (like ashes). Too much nitrogenous fertiliser will grow huge carrot tops and skinny roots - from experience.

Also, off-hand, early seedling death sounds like something called damping-off. It's a fungus disease. Can be caused by too much moisture, or by raw organic material (incomplete compost, etc). May be circumvented by fungicides on seeds (although I'm not sure about those fine carrot seeds) or incorporated in the seed-row. Look it up in books or on the web, to find someone who really knows what they're talking about.

-- Don Armstrong (, February 20, 2001.

I have pretty heavy soil, so I always plant a half-long carrot (I think it was called Danvers half-longs) They are good and sweet when picked young, but will grow big and fat if you let them go. Carrots take a long time to germinate, so you may think they aren't going to grow but they will. BE PATIENT. I don't water my garden at all, and usually have enough carrots to eat plus several bushels to can.

-- Melissa (, February 21, 2001.

I deal with Virginian clay and find that the Danvers carrots work the best. I plant in blocks (square gardening technique) and broadcast the seeds over the prepared beds. Then I very lightly cover them with some compost (VERY LIGHTLY). I try to keep them moist but have not been real good about that but have still been able to grow carrots. But I have to say they take forever to germinate (probably because I am not good about the water). Just be patient. Eventually they will appear.

-- Colleen (, February 23, 2001.

I love carrots. I water the ground real good before I put down the seeds, then hand sprinkle some light soil over them. Water again gently. Cover them with a piece of black plastic. Check under the plastic a couple of times a day, and water gently when patches are starting to dry. Remove the plastic when you start to see little seedlings. Tiny Seedlings can be pulled up from wet soil and trasnlanted to places where nothing came up.

-- lynne (, February 24, 2001.

I like to make a little green house for the small seeds a piece of chicken wire folded like a box or 'house' clovered with clear plastic pushed into the ground at the corners.I add black plastic or fabric to the top for shade.

-- Thumper (, February 25, 2001.

I tried growing carrots in a raised bed for two years, and they were a big flop. Talking to a neighbor one day, who is a retired truck gardener from E. WA, I mentioned the carrots. He said after planting, to sprinkle them every day for a week or 10 days. I tried this method and for two years now have had a bumper crop. The seeds have a really hard shell, and need to be damp this length of time in order to germinate.

-- Duffy (, February 26, 2001.

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