Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Plant Organic Carrots

How to plant carrots. We have the most awesome carrots from June to January. The key to an excellent supply of carrots is to plant carrots regularly throughout the season. I like to plant Early Nantes carrots because they are, well, early and we like the size and sweetness. They also do well in cool weather both spring and fall.

My favorite planting method is to use organic pelleted seed and an Earthway seeder with the carrot plate. This is the fastest and most accurate way to plant. You can also use unpelleted seed and the lettuce plate. This plants a heavier population but that just means you will need to leave the carrots in the ground a few more weeks to size up if the population is heavy. You can also plant either type of seed by hand.

I like to put  down a two inch thick strip of finished compost about 6 inches wide that we plant the carrots into about 1/2 inch deep. You can usually get by with two rows side by side about 3 inches apart.

Carrots are light feeders and I don't use any fertilizer other than the compost. If you use too much nitrogen the carrots get hairy. If you want to fertilize with something use kelp meal. The minerals make for scrumptious carrots and build the soil. If you have good compost you get good minerals and a weed free layer.

Carrots can take up to three weeks to emerge from the soil. For the earliest planting, I usually overseed with a light seeding of radishes. This helps protect the carrots and mark the row. The radishes are ready to pick about the time the carrots are coming up. So you get a two for one crop.

There is another approach to planting carrots that I have never used. It is call the "stale bed" method.  You till the bed shallowly several times about 5 days apart to reduce the weed population. Then plant the carrots. Just before the carrots emerge (about 7 days) you use a flame weeder to burn off any tiny weeds that are growing. The carrots then have a head start and you should be able to get by with only a light weeding a couple of weeks later. Carrot emergence is somewhat dependent on the soil temperature, so this method works the best in the summer when the soil temperature is warm.

Delicious crunchy carrots are the hallmark of the summer and fall garden.

Lisa was at Fareway in April buying some organic carrots and the lady at the register asked her if we were the family who grew the amazing carrots at the farmers market. She said they had bought a bag of carrots and ate half of them just getting to the car. That is pretty typical.

Come see us at the farmers market for the best carrots in Rochester.

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