Why Do My Carrots look like Spiders?

Deformed Carrot

This is my third year of growing carrots from seed.  I learned alot about growing carrots over the last two years,  but obviously not enough given how my carrots look. See the picture above.  So, what have I learned?

The First Year.  The Beginner Year.

The first year, I tried sowing the tiny carrot seeds into the soil.  Nothing grew from my first batch of sown seeds.  So I decided to try and grow them inside and had a lot of success getting the seeds to sprout.  I was definitely on my way, I thought.  Once the seedling was about three inches tall, I decided to plant them in my six inch raised bed.  Success at last.

About two months later, I could see the carrots shoulders.  Ripe for the picking?  I waited for a couple more weeks and then with a might yank, out came my first carrot.  Stunted and all.  My carrot looked like it was missing its bottom.  I did not have a clue why my carrot looked so deformed. Fat and dumpy.

I asked a farmer friend why my carrots were so deformed.  He told me that carrots need loose soil to grow in.  My bed was only tilled six inches and comprised of compost and soil.  He suggested that I put in some sand to make it easier for the carrots to grow.  My other gardening friends told me that they gave up on growing carrots since they were too hard to grow.  Nonsense, I would reply.  I was “supergrow woman!”   If I could not grow it, I would figure out why.  It may take me years, but heck I had the time. Right?

That same year I did get some of the seeds that I sowed to grow.  At the same time, I noticed that it was hard for me to figure out what were carrot seedlings and wild carrot weeds, which is Queen Anne Lace.  They look identical to an untrained eye (mine!)  I noticed that the wild carrot weed was all over the garden and scratched my head wondering if I was losing it and had planted the seeds other places.  Did my seeds gets blown around and land in other beds?  Luckily, I took a picture of the weed and sent it to my county extension.  They informed me that my marbles were still in place, and in fact that look alike was a wild carrot weed. (Whew was I relieved.)

At the end of year 1 carrot growing season, I vowed to right the wrongs of my carrot experiences.  Next year was another year.

Year 2 and Thinking I Had it All Figured Out.

Year 2 of my carrot gardening season arrived.  I decided to sow my carrots inside since I realized that I was notorious for pulling perfectly good seedlings from my gardening thinking they were weeds.  Again, the carrots sprouted marvelously.  When it came time to prepare my beds, I tilled down to China.  Really.    This was going to be the year of the carrot.

I even figured out how to sow them into the soil.  I simply put them on top of the soil with a very light smattering of straw and kept them nice and moist.  Carrot seeds need light to sprout.  Boy, was I flying this year.  Lots of carrot seedlings and carrots growing from ones that I sowed right into the soil.  Mother Earth was patting me on the head, praising me for ability to rebound from my last year gardening disaster.  I could not wait to gloat to all my gardening friends how my carrots looked this year.  They would be orange with envy.

A couple months went by and the shoulders started to show up.  I waited and then yanked.  There was my second year of carrot crop….It looked just like my first year.  Distorted, short, and fat at the top.  My shoulders drooped.  Tears welded up in my eyes.  I was ready to turn in my green thumb since I failed again.  The only benefit to these stubby carrots were their green manes.  I had read that you can use them just like parsley and consequently used them in my chicken soup.

What did I do wrong?  Maybe my soil was still not light enough?  I eyed two raised beds that I had which were 10 inches deep in another part of my garden and decided I would plant my carrots there.  Vowing next year would be different….

Third Year and I Really Have it Figured OutReally.

This year, I sowed a slew of carrot seedlings and planted them in the 10 inch raised bed that I tilled heavily to make sure the soil was nice and loose.  This bed had alot more compost them the other beds.  Praying to the carrot gods, I planted all of my seedlings.  They grew like wild fire with beautiful tops of gorgeous green heads of hair.   I hated pulling them because the bed of carrots was so beautiful.

Deformed Carrot

So when I pulled some, what do you think they looked like?  My carrots  had multiple legs.  A carrot spider. They were a far cry from previous year when they resembled potatoes more than carrots.  I have no idea what happened.  So, I am reaching out to my readers to ask for help.  Please put me out of my carrot misery.

  • What is the deal with carrots and me?  What am I doing wrong?
  • When are carrots ready to be picked?  When their shoulders start appearing?
  • I am growing parsnips.  Will I have the same growing issues?
  • Can you grow carrots in containers?

I’m stumped so please help me out here.  (Sorry, about the pun, I could not resist.)


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Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Life is too good for your carrots. I would guess that there are too many nutrients, which is what causes them to split. You can remedy that by not ammending the soil, like not adding in compost or manure before you plant them, and also by mixing in sand, which will help them to grow straighter, too.

    I planted carrots back in March in soil that had been mixed in with manure the previous spring and I grew squash and lettuce there over the summer.
    .-= Farmer’s Daughter´s last blog ..July Challenge Update =-.

  2. 2

    Terry Gaudet says

    Your carrots look like they are suffering because you are transplanting them. The carrot itself is branching like crazy and transplanting a carrot promotes the branching you see there. Although your carrots may seem to be doing better when you start them, once you move them into your garden they start branching and continue to do so. Try starting carrots from seed in your garden to avoid this……. yeah – not what you wanted to hear….. Oh – yes – as Farmer’s Daughter mentioned – do not amend the soil – unless it is to correct for acidity.

  3. 3

    says

    i had a three year similar carrot project once and found that peat moss made for a terrific loose soil mixture …i added peat after year one and two and by year three i had straight carrots

    i also found that if i had a good year in one crop i had a miserable year in another

    I will never be a farmer
    .-= mother earth aka karen hanrahan´s last blog ..Garlic For Seasonal Allergies =-.

  4. 5

    rick says

    I used 100% sand mixed with 1/3 peat moss. I planted them on raised beds about 8 inches deep.

    I didn’t get a single carrot w/out weird legs. One only had two legs. I have no idea why. Radishes grow perfectly round in the same bed now.
    Just odd.

  5. 7

    Gayle says

    I am having the same problem with my carrots. I have some that
    are perfectly strait and some that have many legs. Has anyone considered that the seed might be the problem?

  6. 9

    Cheryl says

    I enjoyed reading about other home gardeners who can sucessfully grow other vegtables also have trouble growing straight carrots. I have also just picked my first batch of carrots to find the whole butch root mutated & unatractive. I planted seedlings which grew terrific green fluffy tops, but multipul legs on each root.
    I am not sure if I want to continue to give carrots another try as I will use the space for a more successful vegetable (Unless somebody has the answer to growing straight carrots).

  7. 11

    Mandy says

    Seedlings Fail to Appear or Develop Forked Shape from Soil Problems
    because carrots are a root crop and must penetrate deeply into the soil, the type and texture of the soil influences their shape and vigor. Even as they germinate they need light, airy soil so that the sprouting seed can break through to the sunshine above as well as grow downward. Heavy, crusted, or overheated soil effectively prevents them from even sprouting. Rocks and clumps or clods of dirt will cause developing carrot roots to split and distort into a forked shape as they grow around these obstacles.

    To avoid these problems, take pains to prepare the seedbed for carrots well before sowing seed. Wait until the soil has dried out before digging it. Dig it up thoroughly, turning it over and breaking up lumps into small pieces. Cover the newly sown seeds with sand or fine soil that will not crust over when dry. Keep the soil moist. Provide shade for seeds planted in mid-summer so that the soil does not heat up. Garden fleece will do this job.
    Top of Root Turns Green Because of too Much Sun
    Sometimes carrots develop green “shoulders.” When the upper part of the developing root pushes above the soil line and is exposed to the sun, the tissues turn green. Vigorous growth or heavy rains that wash away soil usually cause this problem, but covering the carrot shoulders, but not the crown where the foliage emerges, relieves it. As carrot foliage grows thicker, it will shade the shoulders too. Cut off any green tops of harvested carrots and eat the orange part. The green part tastes bitter, but it’s not poisonous.
    Roots Twist Around Each Other Because Of Crowding
    Carrots that are twisted around each other are victims of overcrowding. It is essential to thin them out well, so that each carrot has about 2 inches of space to grow. Deformed carrots are still tasty and will store well; they just don’t look very much like normal carrots.
    Carrot Roots Are Split, Hairy Or Tough Because Of Moisture Problems
    Carrots are very sensitive to soil moisture levels. When the soil isn’t moist enough, the main root develops many small feeder roots so it can soak up any available moisture more efficiently. At the same time, it forms extra tissue to carry the water, so it becomes tough. On the other hand, if there’s too much soil moisture, carrots sometimes split along their whole length. This happens more often when they are close to maturity.
    The key to assuring even, sufficient moisture to carrots and other plants is soil that’s rich in organic matter, which enables it to hold moisture, yet drain well. Improve your soil by adding chopped leaves, peat moss or compost, if you can get some. Try to keep the soil evenly moist during periods of irregular rainfall by watering regularly and deeply so that the soil does not dry out. Use mulch to prevent evaporation and run-off of moisture from the soil.
    Carrots Are Covered With Hairy Roots Because Of Too Much Fertilizer
    If harvested carrots are covered with small hairy roots, they may have had too rich a diet. To avoid overfertilization at any stage of their growth mix a slow-acting granular fertilizer into the soil in the spring when you plant. Do not feed the carrots for the rest of the season.

    http://yardener.com/YardenersP.....sofCarrots

  8. 16

    nikki says

    hi, im doing my first carrot garden thins year and was wondering if i planted them into organic soil will they grow and not be deformed lol
    thanks

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