Cracked the Carrot Code . . .

by Daisy

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. . . and promptly forgot how I did it.

And it only took, oh, nine months or so.

I’ve never been able to grow carrots.  If you’ve read our book, Deanna even writes about it in the gardening chapter, how neither of us can grow a decent carrot, and how she suspects the one friend she knows who can grow them made a pact with the underworld and waters them with baby’s tears.

So we’re a little bit unsettled by this latest, delicious development:

It’s like a disturbance in The Force.

Never mind, though.  I can’t really remember how I did it, so it’s unlikely ever to be repeated.  Or maybe it’s one of those events that only happens at distant intervals, like seventeen-year cicadas.

Ever have an unexpected gardening success?  Do you know the secret to growing great carrots?  Is this a sign of the apocalypse?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Durham March 3, 2012 at 10:54 am

Really? I planted 4 squares of carrots in a double deep box (so 12″ deep), and just watered them for a few months. Harvested more gigantic deep orange carrots than I knew what to do with!

mari_smith March 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

Maybe a bit of your good fortune will rub off on a few of us. I’m planting carrots for the first time this year. Fingers-crossed! (I have no baby’s tears)

Susan March 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I have never had a carrot grow. I tried again this year with just a little section of a flower bed in the back. My son and I went out and followed the directions exactly. Then at the other end of the bed we planted garlic. I now have beautiful garlic plants and absolutly nothing to show that I ever sowed a single carrot sead. Years ago my daughter brought home a little paper pot with carrot seads in it. We wattered it and … nothing. What’s up with that??? I’m so confused. If anyone figures out the magic, please share. I too am fresh out of baby tears.

Miriam March 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I’m very far from being an expert, but I had better luck with carrots when I used row covers from the time I seeded them until I started eating them – way fewer bug problems and way prettier carrots.

joss March 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm

In Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening, she mentions that carrot seeds are notoriously slow to germinate and that she always pours scalding hot water on her seeds just after planting so that they sprout in a few days. We’ll be trying carrots ourselves in a few weeks. I’ll let you know if we get any 🙂

Viki March 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

We liberally sprinkle compost and/or composted manure on our carrot seeds when planting and most often have success. Carrots are notorious for being hard to grow. Some years I have had to replant 3 times in the same spot to get a good harvest, but it was so well worth it! Gotta keep them moist.

Meg Blair March 4, 2012 at 4:56 am

Hmmm. Looks like a friend of mine may have one of those pacts with the underworld. He grew the best carrots in really heavy clay soil where I could grow nothing at all. I go to all sorts of trouble to prepare my garden beds and still carrots will not grow. Will be trying the scalding water trick this season though. Thanks Joss.

Philip McRae March 4, 2012 at 6:20 am

Other than a deep pebble free soil, the magic bullet for carrots is garlic. I plant in raised beds setting garlic cloves around the edges every ten inches or so. Each year since doing this, big carrots, really sweet (people always say they are the very best) and no bugs. No bugs at all. Not one chewed leaf by rabbits, woodchucks, even the neighbors cat. Water often, feed on occasion, plant garlic cloves, and next year harvest garlic bulbs.

Javalady March 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

I have not yet had success with carrots either. The moles or the rabbits always get them. This year, I am planning a raised bed with fluffy, loamy soil, with lots of sand mixed in to it. I’ve been told that’s what I need. I will plant garlic with them as companion plants. Thanks !!

Handful March 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

I have tried them in both the front garden and the larger rear garden which is part of a reclaimed farm field. NOTHING in the compacted clay in the back one but the soil is rich and loose in the front garden and produces beautiful carrots and other root veggies. (No baby tears needed there) The hot water trick is interesting too!
This year I am trying something new. Homemade seed tape because 1) store bought is way too expensive and 2) I hate thinning and killing all those little babies. (Okay, I am lazy too.) It is made using 1 ply toilet paper. Pour your tiny little carrot seeds (or lettuce, radish…) onto a plate. Dip the end of a toothpick into white glue, touch it to a seed and touch the seed to the paper. Voila!

Edie March 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I always (all three of my first years gardening) had great success with carrots in our raised beds. Then, last season, the crop was terrible. On the ones that did grow, many had yellowed leaves, and forked, hairy roots.
Research points to two reasons: one is too much nitrogen, so avoid over manure-ing or fertilizing with high N sources; and the other is a virus, “aster yellows” carried by leaf hoppers. This year I will be careful with fertilizer and use row covers to control leaf hoppers. Also looking for baby tears 🙂

CarrieK March 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Check your variety of carrots…some can take 250 days, others take 65. Keep birds out, they will swoop in and eat the seeds no time flat. I haven’t tried planting carrots w/garlic, I usually plant them with peas. I use some sluggo with the carrots are babies, otherwise I don’t have much trouble w/pests. I’ve also hear carrots grow well with tomatoes. Don’t give up, keep trying! There is nothing like watching your child pull a carrot up 🙂

Katie March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

I planted carrots for the first time last spring and they turned out great! The one thing my dad always says is to till and really work the soil deep down to make it loose. My landlord tilled the area twice for me before I put the seeds in and I think that’s what did it. No special Jedi training required!

Snooglerat March 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm

The first time ( and only time) I grew carrots, I planted them in 5 gallon buckets. They grew really good! Being an amateur gardener, I didnt realize how big of an accomplishment this was. My friends commented that their carrots never turned out. I suspect it was because the soil was so loose, they could grow really easily.

Claire June 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

I have a mostly clay garden and have had great success with carrots every year! The tricks I’ve learned are
~ water every single day until germination, just enough to stop surface crusting
~spend as much time as possible planting the seeds, to avoid over crowding and thinning later on
~ surround carrot rows with some sort of light weight mulch, I like shredded paper from my husband’s office
~ thin if necessary!!!!
~ till at least a little bit of compost or leaf mould into the soild to a

Doris Vander Wey Heath October 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I have been an avid gardener for over 40 years. Carrots can be hard grow, because they take a long time to come up. My mother always planted radishes with the carrots so she would know where they were planted. My grandmother always planted barely under the ground and had a great crop every year. My carrots this year were a flop, so it can also depend on the year, bugs (in my case usually grasshoppers), critters (gophers, rabbits, deer, etc) and the heat index. Last year and the year before I had wonderful carrots, over 2 milk boxes full last year. I canned one and gave the other away. Just keep trying and eventually you will get what you want to grow.

Daisy October 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Doris Vander Wey Heath–Thank you for your insight. I plan to keep trying. It’s so gratifying to pull up a nice carrot. Or so they tell me.

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