Scrawny undersized carrots

yrdling(U:7B A:9 S:33)June 7, 2009

Hi. I planted two squares of carrots way back in early March (DFW, southern Denton county). We had some cold and wet weather during March, but the carrots sprouted beautifully and have very tall (12 to 18 inch) tops. They sort of flop over on the ground, but they are green and healthy looking.

But ... it is now early June, and the carrots are just tiny fingerlings. The seed packet said 77 days to harvest, but it has been about 90 days already. They are no thicker than a pencil, and only about two inches long.

I have kept them well watered. The soil is well-drained (Mel's mix proportions). My SFG is 14 inches deep so there is plenty of room for the carrots. They get some shade in the late afternoon, but otherwise they get plenty of sun.

What could be holding my carrots back? What can I do to make my carrots grow?

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anniesgranny(6b)

Probably nothing, but you might try thinning them.

"All tops with no roots or small roots is a condition usually caused by planting too close or by not thinning plants. Excessive nitrogen fertilization can also contribute to extensive top growth at the expense of root growth."

I'm noticing the same thing in just one of my garden beds...my beets and carrots have large tops and small roots. My radishes did the same in that bed, so I suspect I put in too much nitrogen fertilizer. Knowing me, I probably forgot I had already fertilized it and so did it again! Another bed (same soil makeup) has larger roots on both the carrots and beets, even though it was planted later. Sometimes you can do too much of a good thing.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 12:25PM
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sethinalbany

I am having the same problem particularly with the root crops I planted a bit on the early side. My SFG is new this year and I am using Mel's Mix made from store-bought compost of several varieties. My first (very early - March) planting of carrots, radishes and beets are all heavy on foliage, and slow to mature. I don't know if it's coincidence, something to do with the moisture or temperature levels, or perhaps some of the compost not being "finished?"

I did a second planting of radishes in late April and those turned out much better. Smaller tops and larger bulbs. My carrots are about 18" high with very little roots. Beets have 8-10" long leaves but the roots are smaller than golf balls.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 10:48PM
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yrdling(U:7B A:9 S:33)

Granny, I planted 16 per square as Mel's book recommends - but - I dropped two or three seeds in each hole and I did not thin them when they started growing. So that may be my main problem. I pulled up a couple of them and found that there are two to three carrots per planting spot. Evidently most of them germinated.

I think I'm going to let these stay in the ground another few weeks and see if they get bigger. Meanwhile, I'm going to try again in some nearby squares where I was growing lettuce, and I'll thin them properly this time.

How much nitrogen in fertilizer is too much? I believe the Miracle Grow I used is 10-10-10.

sethinalbany, I made my SFG mix last year from a couple of different kinds of store-bought compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. I had abundant peppers and okra, but squash and cucumbers didn't grow. I didn't try any root crops last year. I added garden lime to my mix last year and this year as it is supposed to help neutralize the soil and make nutrients more available to the plants.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 9:34AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I fertilize my carrots with a bit of top dresses compost and that's it. I don't think carrots need nitrogen not already presesnt in the ground.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 11:33AM
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jengc(7)

Someone else (I think it was granny) posted a formula for 100% germination of carrots.

Quoted
I spaced them at 1" but I was sort of thinking I should have done 2"."

Who knew they were all going to grow! Although I did have the same rate of germination last year when I glued them to the Kleenex ;-) It's a good thing we love baby carrots.

For those who would like to try this method, here is what I did:

I used Elmer's Glue...the white kind, which is water soluble. I just laid out the 12-inch square sheet of newspaper, grabbed a Sharpie pen and made the dots an inch apart in all directions, then put the dots of glue on the marks. I took a pencil and moistened (licked) the tip and picked up one carrot seed at a time and nudged it into the glue. It only took a few minutes, at the table while having my morning coffee! I let them dry over night before planting. I laid the sheets of seeds on top of the bed (damp ground....water the area before hand) and just barely covered them with some sifted soil. Then I laid boards over them until they began to emerge (check daily after the first week...when you see green remove the boards). After they were up a couple of inches, I could still see some of the newspaper poking out above the surface so I just took a few handfuls of soil and sifted a bit more over the top. I ended up with 336 seeds in a 1'x4' area, but I'd suggest cutting that amount in half. I've also made carrot seed tapes with 2" strips of newspaper, and I glued that seed with slightly farther spacing.
End quote

I have tried this (forgot the board) and I am waiting results. I have seen about 4 sprouts (2 inches apart and did 2 squares) so far. I also did the half carrots in the 6 inch soil. Maybe the seeds and newspaper might give you 100% germination with only one seed.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 4:33PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

Yes, that was me :-)

The carrots really look fine at 1" spacing, but the roots are still rather small. I've pulled a few for sampling, and they are well formed....the "Rainbow" not doing as well as the others. It germinated fine, but the two carrots I pulled to sample were both white, and they were rather tough and tasteless. The Chantenay and Imperator were much nicer. Nantes were the ones that had the poorest germination.

The carrot seed strips that I tried later got messed up when we were trying to put T-posts in the bed for my tomatoes. Some of them germinated, but about half were eaten by something. So much for carrots loving tomatoes! The lettuce on those seed tapes only gave me three plants, one on each 12" section. Again, they were disturbed by the posts being put in. It's worth trying the lettuce again though...if they hadn't been stepped on and buried under a bunch of soil, I think they would have done well. The three that survived are lovely.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 11:51PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

My glued carrot seeds are sprouting now. I haven't counted them, but one square looks pretty well complete and the other is just getting going.

I planted more a couple days ago. This time, I did space them at 2" instead of 1".

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:31AM
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jengc(7)

I was wondering if you could do the newspaper glue thing with all seeds that doesn't need to be planted deep. The carrots I used were the half carrots (forgot the name) and thought they were perfect in my 6 inch soil. We will see! lol

So you can do this with lettuce and carrots. What other veggie can you do this with?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:25AM
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northwest37

You can also do this with Spinach seed but I prefer to use square foot sheets of plywood that have been modified to punch holes in just the right sequence for planting various vegetable seeds. I have three square foot sheets with a handle on one side and small drawer knobs on the other side, arranged in just the right pattern for different seeds. One has 4 drawer knobs for lettuce and parsley, one has nine drawer knobs for spinach and bush beans, and one has 16 drawer knobs for carrots, onions, beets and radishes.

That way you can just punch all the holes at once and put a seed (or two) in each hole. This method makes seed planting very quick and easy for the square food garden.

Larry

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:41AM
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