Guide to Growing Carrots Successfully
Carrots can be proper fussy little things, germination we find is the most difficult part but once they have germinated and they are netted to protect them they are an easy and staple crop that people love… especially when sold bunched with the greens still on.

The secret to being able to successfully germinate carrots we think is all about the bed prep and the early weeding. Here is a handy guide to successful carrot growing…

 

Carrot Spacing and Planning:

We tend to seed a beds worth of carrots every week through the season to allow for a steady supply of fresh carrots. This is obviously controlled by if you have enough beds to do this but one bed for us (15m x 0.75m) is enough for one week of our CSA veg box scheme and enough for a farmers market each week.

We grow carrots on an intensive spacing in our beds putting 6 rows across our 75cm wide beds, which is around 12cm between rows. These are seeded with the Jang Seeder which is an absolute time saver when it comes to seeding carrots. You could save even more time when using a multiple row Jang Seeder too.

Our setup for the Jang Seeder for carrots that are not-pelleted is the X-24 roller and the gear ratio has the 11 cog at the front, and the 13 cog at the rear. We put the brush nice and low to the roller ensuring there is enough room for seeds to leave in the roller but not so much room that they pile out. If you haven’t already we recommend removing the felt on the curved piece of metal, with non pelleted seeds we find that the felt just contributes to the clogging of the hopper.


Bed Prep for Carrot Growing:

With our rotations we ensure we have 7-10 days (weather dependant) between successions of carrots, this means we have 7-10 days to make sure a bed is weed free. Removing as much competition as possible from carrot beds really helps with germination as they hate the competition of weeds.

1. If the bed didn’t have anything in it before we normally would have it tarped so we remove that tarp and then clear the bed or anything with a rake. Especially removing any large rocks or stones.

2. If the bed did not receive a fresh coating of compost this year we will pass through it with the broadfork to ensure a nice even deep rooting space. We will then apply some organic chicken manure pellets to the bed and hoe these in with a stirrup hoe, it helps to do this around midday on a hot dry day as then any weeds that were there will get removed too.

3. After hoe-ing off the bed we will flame weed it. Using a propane or butane gas flame weeder we will go over the whole bed fairly quickly to burn off any young emerging roots. To be clear we aren’t setting fire to these plants or expecting to burn the whole plant, however the heat shock from the flame weeder should kill of the young weed.

4. Next day we will water the bed and cover with a fleece or row cover - this will help maintain the moisture and warmth to help any remaining weeds grow…

5. You are then ready to seed your bed with carrot seeds using the Jang Seeder. Also, have some beetroot seeds to hand. At the end of your carrot bed, pop a few beets seeds in. These will act as a timing indicator as they always germinate just before carrots do.

6. Watch carefully after 4 or 5 days and check regularly to see if the beet seeds have germinated, as soon as they do you will need to flame weed the bed again. Take extra care to cover the whole bed, and do not worry at this stage you will not damage the carrot seeds.

7. Depending on the season either keep the fleece row cover on, or if it is the summer then replace it with a netted cover that is fine enough to keep away Carrot Root Fly. It is important to have the carrots netted from the beginning.

 

Watering Your Carrots for Successful Germination:

It is super important to keep your carrot beds nice and watered throughout the first two weeks after seeding. It is important that the top and seed layer of compost retains moisture throughout this period, drying out will slow down or stop germination. We recommend installing a watering system on a timer for 20 mins twice a day (early morning and evening) to ensure stress-free germination.

After that, putting your carrots on the same watering cycle as the surrounding veg plants is fine, especially in no-dig / minimum till beds.


Weeding Your Carrots:

The above guide will aid you keeping weeds away for the germination period, however carrots are one of the crops with the longest time in the ground and so inevitably weeds will form in the bed after germination. Therefore we diarise and follow the below timetable for weeding:


14 days after seeding, pass through the bed with the Terrateck Tine Harrow (also known as a flex tine weeder). This adjustable tine tool will move around the carrot seedlings not effecting them, but will disrupt any small weed emergence. Again it is best to do this in the middle of the day when soil is drier and this is why we wait until day 14 as this will avoid the period when we are keeping the soil wet throughout germination.


30 days after seeding, making sure that the carrots are around 10cm high we will pass through the bed on each row with the Double Wheel Hoe and Biodisc attachment. The biodisc attachment will disrupt weeds between rows and the other part of the disc will mound up the row. We find this tool to be an absolute game changer and it really helps us keep the beds weed-free and the carrot orange tops happy and hidden in these early stages from the pests.

After this stage anything that does appear shouldn’t out compete the carrots, although we will keep an eye as any flowering seeds could cause problems for future germination.. So we will pull these by hand when passing if it occurs.

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That’s our process for germinating carrots here at Fanfield Farm. We know from the outside this can seem like a lengthy process, but it is much shorter when in the swing of it than hand weeding the beds throughout. We use an old fashioned big diary on the farm and when writing the crop plan we diarise all the other activities for bed prep and weeding. Once in the swing of it, we find this process to work great and have the best fresh carrot bunches available throughout the growing season.






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