Some Tricks to Grow Carrots from Seed
Growing carrots from seed is easy, but there are a couple of tricks to growing really superb carrots. The first challenge facing carrot growers is that the seeds take a relatively long time to germinate. Twelve to fourteen days is not unusual. During this time, the soil needs to be kept evenly moist.
1. Prepare your carrot bed. Carrots need loose, fluffy soil. Before planting, the soil should be thoroughly loosened with a fork or spade. Stones should be removed. This is a good opportunity to add some organic matter to the bed, but only use compost or manure that is completely rotted. If the organic matter is too “fresh,” it can introduce an overabundance of nitrogen – which is great for beans and lettuce, but not good for root crops.
2. Start them in April, when the ground is still cool. Once soil warms up in late May, it’s harder to keep the surface layer evenly moist. Sowing at two to three week intervals will result in a much longer harvest period.
3. Use organic carrot fertilizer. Our made-in-BC carrot formula is a carefully blended mix of kelp meal, rock phosphate, and greensand for an NPK ratio of 1-9-3. This results in big, strong, flavourful roots with strong tops. Decide where your row will be, and mix one cup of carrot fertilizer for every eight feet of row.
4. Irrigate before planting. Give the bed a good deep watering prior to planting so you don’t disturb the shallowly planted seeds.
5. Use a piece of 1×1 lumber to mark your row. Press the piece lightly into the soil on the diagonal (as opposed to a flat side). This will create a shallow, V-shaped trench. When you drop the seeds into the trench, they tend to roll to the centre, resulting in a very straight row. Carrot seeds are tiny, and notoriously hard to sow evenly. Try not to over-sow. Two seeds per inch of row is ideal.
6. Barely cover the seeds. Avoid planting carrot seeds more than 5mm (1/4”) deep.
7. Thin your seedlings! It is important that each carrot has enough room to expand in the soil beside its neighbour. When seedlings are 2cm (1”) tall, remove enough of them so they stand 4-10cm (1½ – 4”) apart in the row. If carrots are too close to each other, it’s common for the roots to wind around one another in a spiral.
8. Try to keep your carrots evenly moist throughout the growing season. Watering after a very dry spell tends to result in splitting.
9. Plant more seeds in the first week of July for harvesting in the fall and winter.
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