Don’t Do the Funky Carrot

Spring has sprung on the Honeywwoofer Homestead! With our house renovations wrapping up (finally), a new whirlwind has begun. It’s planting season people! Which means I got to play with our new toy- an Earthway Precision Seeder. Coming in at under $200, I believe this tool will quickly pay us back in reduced chiropractor visits- not to mention saved time and seed. My first trial crop? Carrots.

Carrots- nice ones- can be tricky to grow for a few reasons.

First, they have a somewhat lengthy germination and require consistent moisture. Second, if you plant them in just any old soil you are likely to end up with Frankencarrots- a carrot peeler’s worst nightmare. Over the years I have learned other hard carrot lessons such as: if you are too reluctant to thin the young seedlings, you aren’t really growing carrots- you are growing a mess. Or, if you leave your harvested carrots unattended- my dogs will eat them.

So this year I am combining my various carrot missteps and (fingers crossed) we will have nice, long, sweet, carrots to share- with more than just our dogs.

Because of our super clay soil we had to create a raised bed. Some home gardeners swear by the bucket method (literally just growing carrots in 5 gallon pails), which essentially achieves the same thing- consistent and controlled soil composition. If your soil forces your carrots to struggle- you will be the one struggling at harvest time, or in the kitchen.

I think it’s the baker in me that loves the visual of a good garden lasagna, so that is how we filled the bed. The bottom was filled with triple mix, then a layer of sawdust, and finally finished compost. We raked out each layer to ensure there were no rocks or clumps. Some people also add sand to the mixture.

Then, I presoaked the soil. I also do this when I am planting seeds in pots. It ensures that the seeds are getting that first boost of moisture they need to germinate- and not just the top layer of soil by accident.

Then it was Earthway time! The seeder comes with multiple plates for each seed size. We bought it specifically for small seeds like carrots, lettuce, etc. It is extremely difficult to plant those tiny seeds by hand without having to thin like a madman later. Also- back pain. In the past we have even tried creating our own seed tape- but that was a tedious process with only marginal results. So, if you have ever planted those itty bitty seeds by hand, the following video is about to make you either very jealous or inspired…

The seeder drops one seed at the time, at the depth you set the trowel at. The chain then covers the seed with soil. Badaboom, badabing- at least I hope that’s what we’ll be saying a few weeks!

I also used the seeder to companion plant radishes in the carrot bed. Radishes help break up or “open up” the soil for carrots. Since radishes only take 30-40 days to harvest and carrots take 60-75, they won’t inhibit each other’s growth. It’s a great way to make the most of your garden space and improve your yield. Carrots ❤️ Radish.

I soaked the bed again and then we added a layer of porous fabric. Some people will cover their carrot seeds with a board or mulch, both of which I have tried with success in the past. Either way, the purpose is to retain consistent moisture until the seeds germinate. It also protects the seeds from hungry visitors- like birds. My theory on this black fabric specifically is that it will also help keep the soil warmer- we are planting in April after all. It may also provide some protection from frost or snow. Either I’m a genius or I still have more carrot farming lessons to learn. Once germination is evident the fabric (or board, or mulch) should be permanently removed. (Note: you still have to water the seeds while they germinate- it’s not a one and done thing. These tactics just prevent the soil from drying out inbetween.)

Happy planting y’all!

Remember, keep calm and don’t do the funky carrot. 😉

4 thoughts on “Don’t Do the Funky Carrot

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