Carrots in Dry Soil

digit(ID/WA)October 9, 2007

Good Morning Everyone!

I harvested most of my carrots last week and there was good and bad in the experience. The good was that the June 13th gel planting technique worked!! The plants were a little too crowded - largest Nantes carrots started in the cornstarch gel were about 6 inches. As I've noted earlier, the June 27th planting in gel failed - so I'm concluding that a carrot seed started in a bead of cornstarch gel anywhere from mid-April to early June has a good chance at life!

However . . . after years of intending to grow giant Kuroda carrots, my effort this season was a dismal failure. I hadn't intended to put so many eggs in one basket with the Kuroda but wanted to mostly concentrate on Nelson Nantes as a dependable and tasty "little guy." But, Johnny's didn't have my Nelson carrot pellets and back-ordered until June. Then, they neither sent them to me nor notified me they weren't.

Kuroda needed to come thru but I'd guess 10 out of 12 carrots split. Looking back, I should have picked up plenty of Scarlet Nantes seed at the garden center in June and planted MANY more feet in the gel in my first try - - shoot!

An Arizona Cooperative Ext website on carrot water requirements shows that they need right at 1" of water weekly up to full maturity. Of course, while they are tiny and early in the growing season, their requirements are less. Actually, they state it as .15 inches/day.

My efforts to put 1.5" of water on the gardens each week looks like it should be very adequate but one needs to realize that I have very rocky soil and only run the sprinklers twice each week. I think this is a crop which would GREATLY benefit from more frequent waterings even if less water is applied each time.

Here seems to be the path for my future success - - forget the huge, long-season carrots!


I bet my few-in-number parsnips are okay!

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

As IÂm writing this IÂm eating a candied carrot I pulled a half an hour ago! YUM!

IÂm sticking to my Royal Chantenay (Harris - pelleted), which are getting better and better every year as my soil slowly improves. TheyÂre short and fat. This year mine are still under 5" and up to about 1½" in diameter, but my brotherÂs, back in Illinois, get up to about 6", and, believe it or not, up to about 3" in diameterÂand theyÂre still just as sweet and tender as the smaller ones. (They donÂt split.) And he keeps them all winter in dry sand in a COLD building. So far I havenÂt gotten all that many, so I just keep them in the fridge when I pull them. While I was just waiting for a piece of baked "fried" chicken to heat up, I very coarsely shredded one of them, cooked it for about 2 minutes, poured off the tiny bit of water in the pot, let the rest of the moisture evaporate, and then added a little bit of brown sugar, honey, and butterÂandÂYUM! Crunchy and sweet! But theyÂre already incredibly sweet all by themselves tooÂand wonderful raw. I almost never eat raw store bought carrots!

I pulled some beets too, but they need to go in the pressure cooker to peel them easily. Hope to get around to it later today. My beets are getting bigger and better every year too, but I didnÂt thin them enough this year, so they didnÂt get as big as they might have. I MUST get better at thinning!

My veggies get watered at least an inch a week, but I donÂt know exactly how much Âcause I just do it whenever something looks like it needs it! And theyÂre still growing in pretty clayey clay. Next year will be the first time IÂve had a "useable" quantity of homegrown compost, so that should help quite a bitÂand I WILL thin.

And IÂve been sitting on my hands waiting to dig the first of the parsnips until after weÂve had a good freezeÂwhich IÂm not all that anxious forÂexcept for the parsnips! As with everything else, thereÂs not a whole lot of them, but the tops are sure looking good this year, and IÂm expecting great things. With the parsnips IÂm gonna just dig them as I want them again, and leave the rest of them in the ground covered with leaves over winter.

Happy root crops,

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 1:29PM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

Unlike my deep rooted perennials, my veggies get a little water every day (inline drippers on a timer). I found the problem with watering veggies, especially newly sown or planted veggies, only once a week, is that the surface soil will dry out and that's where the roots are. Even though I mulch heavily with newspaper and manure on top of that, the exposed soil in the rows can dry out in a day with those lovely hot bone dry winds that come through.

20 years ago I gave up on long carrots and planted Nantes Little Finger. They were good, reliable and sweet. In more recent years I switched to Nantes Scarlet which are reliable, easy to find and I like the taste. I don't think any homegrown carrot get cooked around here.
But, after 20 years of dumping alot of manure in the garden, the soil is very soft down at least 6 or 8 inches, so maybe it's time to try a longer carrot.

I just use non-pelleted seed - seems to work OK.

I've got all my beets pickled (those the kids didn't swipe while I was peeling them). I thought I might have waited too late because some were really huge - but they were all very tender after boiling. Just the basic boring, but reliable as heck Detroit Dark Reds.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 3:01PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

I used the cornstarch gel method for my second crop of lettuce and spinach and it worked fantastically! I'll be trying it for sure on the carrots next year. And making trying the Royal Chantenay. I had Touchon this year, but it was not very sweet. The dogs loved em, and I used them in salads, but not on their own.

Skybird, I love candied carrots too! My mother used to make them as a standard with her Swiss Steak recipe. One of my favorite meals.

Recently, I found this twist - and it's really good:

Melt butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced carrots. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook over medium low, shakng pan from time to time. Carrots should steam in their own moisture, but not brown. Cook 15-20 minutes.

The recipe called for 2 TBLS unsalted butter to 1.5lbs of carrots, but I think it's a "you can tell" thing. The recipe also calls for dill, chives, chervil or tarragon to be added, but we skip the herbs.

These will be crispy and soooo sweet! We love this recipe.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 3:22PM
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I'm glad you read the post, Skybird, because I learned something new about pelleted carrot seed this year. It doesn't last very long.

Pelleted seed purchased a year prior has been used without remarkable reduction of germination percentages. Two year old seeds turned out to be duds.

Use up those pellets and stand by suspiciously to see if they are going to come up the way you expect. Or, put them in some wet paper towels before the season is set to commence.

I know I've sung the praises of pelleted seed for a few years now. This was an unfortunate oversight on my part, sorry.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 5:19PM
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Does anyone have a good description of how to use cornstarch for seed starting? I've never heard of this and there are few descriptions of it on the net. Mostly I've found using cornstarch to make seed tapes.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 6:56PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I read all the posts, DigitÂjust donÂt have time or energy to answer them half the time anymore these days! (IÂm still not able to sleep since my "adventure" in the mountains!)

But IÂm glad you said that about the pelleted seed! I used my year-old seed this spring, and couldnÂt tell any difference in germination from last year, so I was planning to use it again next spring. Maybe I better plan to buy some more! ThatÂs interesting that youÂve found it to loose its viability quickly. I was kinda thinking that the "coating" on the seeds might help make it last longer than normal!

Alice, when you "steam" the carrots in butter, do you not add brown sugar and/or honey just before eating them? I have to try that. It sounds good! Though, mine are so sweet this year IÂve eaten a couple more of them raw this afternoonÂand I might start taking raw ones along on trips with me too.

My mother used to always make carrot salad with shredded carrots and raisins and Miracle Whip when I was a kid, and I never make that with store bought carrots, but I think this year I just might need to make a batch of that too.

And to think I hated veggies when I was a kid!


    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 7:00PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Here's a link to the original thread on "fluid seeding," Amaryllis, and here's (unclickable) links to the two subsequent threads too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fluid Seeding Thread

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 7:28PM
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I'll make them clickable for you:
First link
Second link

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 12:27AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Thanks for that, BP. I know how to do it now, but it doesn't come naturally yet, and I just didn't have the energy for it!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 12:51AM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Sorry to hear that your adventure, as you put it, is keeping you up at night Skybird. That's not what you expect of a vacation.

And, no, no sweetners are added to this recipe. Somehow cooking them like this brings out so much of the already present sugars, you don't need any more.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 10:31AM
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Skybird, you need more "comfort food."

I have grown Sugarsnax for a long time and they are pretty darn good. My understanding is that they are a Nantes/Imperator hybrid. Most are usually fairly decent carrots but not much of a sure thing as the smaller Nantes varieties are.

Oddly, the garden soil that is most deeply cultivated (spading fork - 11 inches) is not better at growing carrots than the shallow cultivated ground (rototiller - 6 inches). I think it has to do with the surface being able to hold moisture. The deeply cultivated ground has a great deal of pea gravel in it. The rototilled ground has rocks.

I was surprised one year after I'd planted a bed of Sugarsnax farthest from my sprinkers in the rototilled garden. By harvest time, there were quite a few good carrots!

The situation was that altho' my sprinklers didn't do a very good job watering that bed, the kid who ran the sprinklers in the neighbor's hay field usually got it wet. Of course, his sprinklers weren't very close either but watering took place often enuf (and that may be the key) that they grew fairly well in terribly rocky soil and didn't split much.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 11:41AM
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