6) Sowing carrots in a small furrow

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In this tip there is general info:

  • Introduction
  • A)# Best sowing time for summer carrots or winter carots.
  • B)# What garden soil is best for carrots and sowing distances.
  • C)# Sow carrots next to onions (to hold back onion flies an carrot flies).
  • D)# Loosening the garden soil prior to sowing.
  • E)# Making a sowing furrow.
  • F)# 7 Ways of sowing carrots.
  • G)# Which sowing method is best.
  • H)# Strewing a thin layer of garden earth on the seeds.
  • I)# Covering the furrow against drying out or flushing seeds away.
  • J)# Thinning out winter carrots.
  • K)# Info about the carrot fly on the internet.
  • L)#  Harvesting and storing winter carrots.

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Introduction

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One can sow carrots in a shallow furrow or in a small plant bed.

Reasons:

  • The soil in the furrow or the plant bed is at a lower level, so less drying out. Watering once or twice a week in dry periods is enough.
  • You can water the plants or seeds in the furrow or plant bed.  The soil next to the furrow or bed remains dry. So less weed growing there.
  • The furrow or bed marks the seeding place. So no mark sticks needed.

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  • More info about sowing summer carrots in tip  34   and    37  .  Summer carrot seeds fall one by one out of a “shift fall tray” (seed drop tray) with 1 fall tube.
    • At tip 34, the seeds fall through mat holes on flat garden soil and can roll away.
    • At tip 37, seeds fall through mat holes (or holes in a ruler) in sowing holes and do not roll away.
  • More info about sowing winter carrots in tip   38   .
    • The carrot seeds fall one by one out of a “shift fall tray” (seed drop tray) with 3 fall tubes. In this way you can sow 3 seeds in a group on the garden soil. A nylon string with knots is used to mark the desired sowing positions. But……. you can sow by hand, so without the special tray, 2 groups or a short row of seeds at each knot.

To sow easily, you better follow the procedures described in tip    37    or  38  .

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A)# Sowing time

A1) Summer carrots. 

Concerning the sowing time of summer carrots, use the info on the seed sachet. When you want to sow very early in the season you can use    tip 20    . Thereby summer carrots are sown indoors in a tray with sowing soil. This can be done from early winter or mid winter on (December, January). After some weeks the soil block(s) with small carrot plants with roots are shoved into the garden soil under a tunnel greenhouse. This is done at non freezing weather. You can repeat this procedure during winter and early spring.

From early spring (March) on, you can sow summer carrots in the garden soil each week (or each 2 weeks or each month). Sow a short row or a small plant bed of summer carrots in the garden soil. Sow at non freezing weather. In early spring (March and April) you better sow in the garden soil under a (tunnel) greenhouse. Later on you can sow carrots in the open air, so not under a greenhouse. In late summer you can sow summer carrots under a tunnel greenhouse again.

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A2) Winter carrots. 

Sow in early to mid spring (March, April) 1 short row of winter carrots. At early sown carrots there is a higher risk of attack by the maggots of the carrot fly.

Sow the rest of the winter carrots at mid to late spring (May). My experience: the “later sown” carrot seeds produce the best vegetables.  See below.

These winter carrots have been sown in mid June (end of spring) and harvested at the end of October (mid fall). Carrots are not attacked by carrot flies or other plant diseases. The carrots are not very large, but that’s no problem. Heap of carrots is on paving stones of 30 cm (12 inch) square.

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History:  The winter carrots sown in March and April grew well. But in June the foliage of the plants turned from green to yellow and brown. See 2 carrot plants between onion plants on the photo below.

Carrots were small and there was much attack of carrot flie maggots. Despite of onions that were growing next to carrot plants.

In mid June all carrot plants were removed, the soil was loosened and new winter carrots were sown. This sowing was in new rows and in old rows (at places were the old carrots grew). All new carrot plants grew well and the harvest was good. See the heap of carrots on the photo above.

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B)# Soil and sowings

Carrots need loose soil to get straight carrots.  The plants like ground that has been manured 1 year ago (before the last crop). After that crop, there is still enough nutrition left in the soil for carrots. So no fresh manure desired. You can still mix some compost through the soil just before sowing.

  • For winter carrots you can make a furrow of about 3 to 4 inch wide. Distance between the groups of seeds in the furrow is about 10 centimeter (4 inch).
  • Summer carrots can be sown in a furrow. Distance between the seeds is about 2.5 to 3 centimeters (1 to 1.2 inch).
  • Sowing summer carrots on a small plant bed is very easy too. Distance between seeds is 3 centimeters (1.2 inch).

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C)# Carrot flies and onion flies

You can sow 1 row of carrots (C) next to 1 row of onions (O). Like this:  OCOCOCOC…

This can reduce the attack by carrot flies and/or onion flies. Instead of carrots you can sow a row of beetroots net to a row of onions.

When you sow summer carrots on small plant beds, you can sow or plant 1 row of onions next to the plant beds.

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D)# Loosing soil

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Fix an elastic string (or a nylon string with knots at fixed distances) to get a straight row. Info about these strings in tip 2  nrs 4 and 64.    Make a shallow furrow using a hoe.

Loose the soil deeply; put a scoop in the soil and pull the scoop + soil about 2 inches aside (in lengthwise direction of the furrow). Take out the scoop and repeat the action about 2 inches further away in the furrow. Continue until the end of the furrow.  Then spread the soil over the furrow to get an equal depth in the furrow.

Remark: You can use a garden fork or spade to loose the soil. That works well too.

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E)# Making a \__/ shaped furrow

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Make a furrow using a furrow board or a scoop or empty margarine boxes or something like that. Info about the furrow boards in   Tip 2  , nr 2. Use a watering can with a fine shower head and water the soil in the furrow. Wait for the water to drop in the soil.

When you want to sow summer carrots, see  tip 37   for more information.

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F)# Sowing

There are many ways of sowing carrots:

  • Spread the seeds by hand. Thin out later.
  • Strew the seeds in a white tray. Use tweezers to pick each seed and lay it in the furrow. When needed, thin out later.
  • Strew the seeds in a white tray. Use a moist small cocktail stick to pick each seed and lay it in the furrow. When needed, thin out later.
  • Use a “sowing box” as described in tip 3. When needed, thin out later.
  • Use a “seed shift tray” (seed slide tray) as described in tip 3. When needed, thin out later.
  • Sow winter carrots using a “shift fall tray” (slide drop tray) with 3 tubes. Use a nylon string with knots to sow at fixed distances.   See tip   38   .
  • Sow summer carrots using a “shift fall tray” (slide drop tray) with 1 tube and a mat or “spacing rule”. See tip    34    and    37  .

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G)# What sowing procedure is easiest

G1) Winter carrots

Sowing winter carrots goes well in a furrow when using a string with knots at fixed distances (one knot each 10 centimeters, 4 inch). At each knot you can spread the winter carrot seeds by hand.

Or, even better, sow 2 groups of seeds at each knot. Zie photos above. The yellow circles indicate these groups. After thinning out later, you can end up with 2 big winter carrots each 10 centimeters (4 inch).

You don’t know which seeds will grow into plants (and which not). When sowing many seeds, 1 or more carrot plants will sprout at (almost) all groups. Thinning out later is needed. This “hand” sowing procedure is very useful and  my favourite way of sowing winter carrots.

Sowing with the shift fall tray with 3 tubes, as described in tip   38   ,takes more time than spreading seeds by hand. With this tool you can sow few seeds per sowing spot, so less thinning out later. But some spots can have no carrot plants (when all seeds did not germinate). Replanting carrot plants from full groups is needed then (but is not so easy).

My experience: sowing 2 groups of winter carrot seeds by hand at each knot is easiest.

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G2) Summer carrots

Sowing summer carrots goes well (best) when using a shift fall tray (seed drop tray) with one tube.

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Also use a sowing stick and a mat or a placemat or a ruler to make sowing holes before sowing.  Description in tip    37   .

When sowing 3 seeds at each spot, 0,1,2 or 3 carrot plants will shoot up. Thinning out later can be necessary.

Sowing carrots using a shift fall tray (seed drop tray) with 1 tube is much faster and easier than using tweezers or a moist cocktail stick for picking the seeds. Sowing by hand or using a “sowing box” goes well too, but is not as handy. I prefer sowing using a shift fall tray.

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H)# Strewing soil on

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Choose an empty spot in the garden.  Shove away the dry top layer.  Take some moist garden earth and crumble it over the carrot seeds.

Or put some moist garden earth in a plastic flower pot with bottom holes. Hold the flower pot above the seeds. Shake the flower pot to have the earth strewing on the seeds. Form a layer of about 0.5 to 1 centimeter (1/4 to 1/2 inch) thick above the seeds. Now the seeds can germinate under good conditions (lying on moist soil, covered by a crumbled layer of moist garden earth).

When you want to sow summer carrots, see  tip 37   for more information.

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I)# Covering

I1) Covering after sowing

At warm and dry weather after sowing, the soil in the furrow can dry out and germination stops. When there are heavy showers after sowing, soil can get too wet or seeds can flush away (aside) in the furrow.

  • Right after sowing you can cover the furrows using wooden boards or small pieces of corrugated plate or so.
  • You can lay the coverage on small laths. In this way the furrow is rather airy. That is good at wet, rainy, moist weather after sowing.
  • Lay bricks on the coverage against blowing away.

  • Or lay the boards or pieces of plate right on the garden soil over the furrow (from side to side). Do this at warm, dry weather.
  • Shove or scatter garden earth against the sides and on the sides of the plates or boards. Narrow openings and splits are closed this way. The seeds and the garden soil in the furrow do not dry out so fast. So better germination at warm dry weather.
  • When putting earth on, you don’t have to put small bricks on against blowing away.

  • Remove the boards or plates when plants are visible.
  • Water the plants at dry weather.

  • After sowing in a planting bed, you can cover the bed with a wooden stepping board (or something like that).
  • Remove the board when plants are visible.
  • Water the plants at dry weather.

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I2) Covering after resowing

  • When you resow winter carrot seeds at spots where no plants shot up;
    • sow seeds on moist loose garden soil,
    • scatter moist garden earth on the seeds,
    • put plastic flowerpots (upside down) on the scattered garden earth on the sowing spots,
    • shove garden soil against the flower pots to prevent blowing away,
    • remove the flower pots when the plants have shot up.

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J)# Thinning carrots

J1) Winter carrots

When sowing winter carrots as shown in G1), you get 2 groups of small carrot plants (or 1 group when only few seeds have germinated) each 10 centimeters (4 inch). The distance between these two groups is a few centimeters (1 to 2 inch).

  • Thin out when carrot plants are about 5 to 10 centimeter (2 to 4 inch) high.
  • Pull the smallest carrot plants per group out of the soil. Or use scissors to cut these plants just above the soil.
  • Continue until 1 (big) carrot plant is left in each group. From now on there are 2 carrot plants each 10 centimeters (4 inch) (Or 1 carrot plant when only plants in one group have shot up).
  • Water the plants right after thinning.

Let the winter carrots grow up. Two winter carrot plants with a few centimeters (1 -2 inch) distance in between will both grow up to big plants. In autumn, you can harvest 2 big winter carrots. At 1 plant per 10 centimeter (4 inch), you can grow a bigger winter carrot.

J2) Summer carrots

Summer carrots (when sown 2 or 3 seeds per sowing hole) need thinning out too. For each position of a sowing hole, let one plant grow up.

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K)# Carrot fly

On   Royal Horticultural Society   you find an article about the carrot fly.

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L)# Harvest and storage of winter carrots

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This photo shows the harvest of 3 rows (4 meters each) of winter carrots in my allotment garden. One heap with big winter carrots and one small plastic tray with small ones. All together 16 kilogram. The carrots have been sown in May (mid spring). The heap is spread on paving stones of 30 cm (12 inch) square.

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Store the big carrots in (plastic) boxes with dry sand. Mak a layer of sand, layer of carrots, layer of sand, layer of carrots etcetera. Surplus carrots can be put in a bucket. Small carrots in a tray.

More info at chapter F)#  of  tip  15) Storage tips   .

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Strew dry garden sand or masonry sand over and between the carrots.

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Put lids on the boxes. And a flower pot dish or so on the bucket. And a lid or another plastic box on the box. Covers are needed to keep cats away from the dry sand. Cats like to ……. in dry sand.

Store the boxes with carrots outdoors under a roof or in a cool barn or garage. At freezing weather, put the boxes with carrots from outdoors into a barn or garage. And outdoors again at no freezing weather.

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