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 Out…Really.
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.
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.)