Mary's Veggie Garden

May 10, 2012


Filed under: Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 6:57 am
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Plant carrots late April through the end of May. An early May planting will provide baby carrots for salads in early July and full-sized carrots by the end of the month.

My 2011 planting of Bolero carrots on June 25.

The tiny seeds of carrots produce fine, wispy sprouts which don’t like breaking through dry, crusty soil. I was reluctant to plant during our spring drought but last weekend finally provided great planting conditions. Two days of rain followed by several days of cloudy, showery weather are ideal for sprouting carrot seed.

Planting Carrots
Carrots like deep, loose soil. The .2” rain Saturday night softened the soil for turning with a garden fork Sunday morning. I broke up surface lumps with a rake and smoothed and leveled the bed. This process also destroys all weeds; carrot seed grows better without competition.

I plant my carrots densely, in three rows which run the length of an 18”-24” wide bed along the garden fence. I form rows by pressing the long edge of a yard-stick into the soil to make a 1/4” trench. The next step is to slowly, carefully, and methodically place carrot seeds one by one about 1/2” apart along the trench then cover the seed lightly by using thumb and fingers to brush a little soil from either side of the trench. Water gently to avoid crusting the soil.

Left normal Bolero carrot seed; right coated Yaya seed.

Placing carrot seed is tedious. With such tiny seed it is difficult to place only one and because the seed is the same color as the soil it is difficult to see where seed is already placed. When I opened my seed packet this year I was surprised to find white seed. Only then did I notice the fine print on the packet which said the seed was coated with an organic coating. The contrast of white seed with brown soil made planting considerably easier.

Left normal Bolero carrot seed; right pelleted Yaya seed.

Some seed catalogs also offer pelleted seed. The thick white coating doubles the size of the seed making it both easier to handle and to see. I accidentally ordered pelleted seed last year and found the germination was as good as non-pelleted seed. Thinning was much easier because with pellets I didn’t drop two or more seeds in a single spot.

Carrot seedlings emerge in two to three weeks, depending on soil temperature. While waiting keep the soil moist so the surface does not crust. After the seedlings emerge and the rows are visible, I weed thoroughly. At the same time I thin the seedlings so plants are 1” – 1.5” apart and fertilize with a fertilizer formulated for root crops – an organic 3-4-3 fertilizer. Do not use a high nitrogen fertilizer on carrots because it will cause forking.

The final step is mulching. With my dense planting, I must use a fine-grained mulch such as shredded leaves or grass clippings. The mulch retains moisture and prevents weed germination. I also put a soaker hose in the carrot bed. Later on, in early July, I thin again, so plants are 2”- 3” apart, depending on variety. These thinnings are usually big enough to eat.

I usually plant three varieties of carrots. I compare how they grow and taste, and if a variety succumbs to the foliage diseases in my garden I try something else. I’ve had success with Yaya for early summer eating. Bolero is my all time favorite for fall and winter eating. Last year I harvested over seventy pounds of Bolero carrots from a 20’x18” bed. Stored in my root cellar, they lasted all winter and the last one, eaten in mid-April was almost as good as the first.



  1. Love my carrots; I haven’t tried pelleted seed but I usually manage to broadcast fairly evenly and I don’t mind thinning too much. I have a question for you about the planting spread sheet you shared awhile back. I’ve finally had a bit of time to sit and look at it and trying to fill it in with my own info. I think I get everything except the format in “Date to Plant in the Garden” which looks like: 41059 does that mean April 10-May 9? Or something else? Thanks!

    Comment by maryhysong — May 12, 2012 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

    • When I look in the column I see something like 05-30 but when I click on the field so the source shows in the input area at the top I see 2012-05-30. The field is supposed to be a date. The year doesn’t matter, but I’ve never figured out how to enter a date containing only month and day. The editor automatically fills in the current year. The difference in what we are seeing could be our spreadsheet editor. I work with Libre-Office Calc, not a Microsoft product.

      I suspect you will be changing everything in this column to match your very different growing environment.


      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 12, 2012 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  2. thanks loads, I am just using the spreadsheet that came with MS Works so yeah, probably a bit out of date; I’ll go browse the options and see if that field is set up as a date. Thanks.

    Comment by maryhysong — May 12, 2012 @ 10:04 pm | Reply

  3. I did not know I should use a fertilizer formulated for root crops on my carrots, no wonder my carrots never look as good as yours. Must go out and get some 3-4-3 right away.
    How did you get the “check mark” eleminated from the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” box? Another blogger had explained the process but I did not get it.

    Comment by Norma Chang — May 14, 2012 @ 7:41 am | Reply

    • Lower nitrogen is the key – less foliage, more root. But I probably get a lot more sun at Vassar Farm than you do. For sure my carrots do much better with the full day of sun at VF than they ever did at my home.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 14, 2012 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

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