Gardening Vivian | 09 Mar 2010 11:17 pm

How to Grow Organic Carrots, Part Two – Germinating Carrot Seeds

In the first article of this series, we went over a foolproof method for sowing carrot seeds. If you followed those first steps, you should be on your way to growing a healthy crop of delicious organic carrots.

Making sure that as many of the carrots seeds germinate as possible is our next step. Under ideal conditions, which for carrot seeds is around 75 degrees F (22 degrees C), carrot seeds germinate 7-10 days after planting. In the meantime, it’s important to keep them moist, so daily watering is essential. Skipping this step means fewer seeds will germinate, and your crop will not be as robust and energetic as it could be.

One trick that I’ve run across for germinating carrot seeds is to cover the bed with a board, cardboard, old carpeting, or clear plastic for a week until the carrot seeds germinate. I’ve tried this, but I prefer the method I’m describing here. The problem with the board method is if you leave the board on for just a day too long, the seedlings, which will have germinated in the dark, are long and spindly and vulnerable to drying out. I’ve had better luck covering the seeds with fine soil to a greater depth than usually recommended, about three-quarters to a full inch (1-2.5 cm), and watering regularly.

I mentioned the option of adding radish seeds to the seed/soil mixture when sowing carrot seeds. If you’ve done this, the radish seedlings will begin to pop out in just three or four days. By the time the carrot seedlings emerge, the radishes will already be several inches tall.

Carrot seedlings are very fine, with tiny serrated leaves. Be careful when harvesting the radishes and try not to pull out adjacent carrot seedlings along with the radish. Should you accidentally yank a baby carrot, just push it back into the soil; there’s still a good chance it will take hold and produce a nice carrot.

Pull any weed seedling you see at this early stage. You will quickly learn the difference between a weed seedling and a crop seedling. Weeds pull easily when they are young, and if you compare that to some of the monster annual weeds that infest some gardens, you’ll agree with the logic of pulling as many of them as you can when they’re still babies. Please don’t skip this step! Once the carrots get established, they will shade out most weeds.

It’s your job to give them an early advantage in the never-ending competition for space and sunlight. Now you know the all-important second step of germinating carrot seeds. Treat young carrots tenderly, and you will be rewarded later in the season.

John C. Peterson grows carrots, fruits, poultry products and pastured lamb on his Wisconsin homestead. Want to learn more about growing your own food organically? Get your free gift here: Thank-you for your kind attention!

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