This year’s early-season carrots struggled through an infestation of Asiatic Garden Beetles, a nocturnal garden pest that needed to be painstakingly removed from the soil during thinning and weeding. The early crop took a bit longer than expected to mature, but the beetle-busting efforts paid off with truly lovely carrots.
When our late-season carrots got off to a rocky start, we began to worry. We seeded an area vacated by fava beans on July 7th. Germination was good, the seedlings began growing, but then they all died. All except a few that had been in the shade of the mature carrots at the ends of the rows. We’re not certain, but it may be that the seedlings became too dry at a critical period and quickly withered in the mid-July sun. They were replanted and the second carrot crop now appears to be on its way to greatness. But for my part, I’d like to document a few carrot lessons we’ve learned this year.
1. Favor varieties with short growing seasons. Two crops divides the season into mid-April to mid-July and mid-July to mid-October, giving a generous 91 days for maturity. Yet, carrots grown in the peripheries of the season take longer than the predicted 75 days.
2. Plant the rows close together. The carrots shared a bed with salad turnips this year, dividing one 6′ x 9′ planting bed into two beds 3′ wide. We planted five rows 6 inches apart and the spacing was excellent.
3. Sow plenty of seed. Carrots take their time germinating (1-3 weeks), so they don’t allow much opportunity to infill seed bare spots without paying a heavy price in lost time.
4. Keep the newly-seeded soil moist. We used shade cloth after re-seeding in July and left it in place until the seedlings had a good roothold (at about 2" tall). This may be less of a problem for the early crop.
5. Lightly thin the seedlings each week. Successive thinning doesn’t take long, and it results in the best seedlings surviving to maturity at the ideal spacing of around 1 inch apart.