I’ve read that carrots are one of the easiest crops to grow, yet I’ve sowed carrots multiple times this season with dismal results. Only a few plants germinated, and they quickly disappeared. Disheartening performance for a vegetable described by many as “a cinch to grow.”
What am I doing wrong? How can I improve my results?
I first suspected the seeds. Perhaps the seeds were outdated, improperly stored, or simply past their prime? I picked up a fresh envelope at the garden shop and replanted. After several weeks of waiting I rejoiced over a few sprouts.
Carrot sprouts are a favorite of earwigs. Those winners of the ugly bug ball gobble the best and the tastiest at night while most gardeners sleep. I visited the nighttime garden and inspected the surroundings with a flashlight but found no earwigs, at least not the invading hoards described by some garden bloggers. Nevertheless, I created damp rolled paper traps and set them around the garden just in case. After a couple of days I had found no earwigs in the traps.
Why is my carrot germination rate so low? In the stacks of gardening books at the public library I found possible answers. Writers in two vegetable-themed books described their wins and losses. Both counted carrots in the loss column until they tried a new technique for planting, the liberal use of row covers. Simple burlap stretched across the soil where the seeds have been scattered may increase germination rates. One gardener also soaked his seeds for six hours before he planted them.
What if I can increase my yield by adopting a few new planting practices? It makes perfect sense to try, right?
Once again I purchased carrot seeds along with a roll of burlap and a few odds and ends of 1×3 pine. I opted for row cover boxes that would allow the carrots room to grow before I had to uncover them to the harsh realities of the world.
These boxes fit open spaces (not yet planted) in my raised beds so including the dimensions would be of little value. I used my Kreg jig pocket screw system for the joints and knocked these boxes out while Shawn deadheaded the front gardens.
We soaked the seeds for six hours before planting. After scattering we sprinkled fine soil to cover the seeds then installed the burlap cover boxes. For days I watered through the burlap. The covers help retain the moisture.
The soaked seeds sprouted, caught up with and passed the seeds sowed with no pre-treatment. Although we sowed way too many and had to do some thinning I think we have the secret to starting carrots.
A marauding rabbit has now devoured the bean crop, nibbled the lettuce and turned its attention toward the carrot crop. Some of the larger carrots have already disappeared.
Where is Elmer Fudd when you need him? I added sections of 18” garden fencing to thwart Bugs.
I am hoping for a respectable return on my carrot efforts. What joy will be mine as I pick carrots with my granddaughter and enjoy a crunchy munch of a fresh–pulled bunch. At this rate those carrots, if and when they materialize, will have cost at least $10 each.
Is it any wonder that Jesus struck a responsive chord with His listeners as He used an object lesson of a sower scattering seeds (Matthew 13)? Heads nodded as He described four distinct results for the seeds. Solomon, another avid gardener understood that the quantity of seeds scattered does not equal the size of the harvest. He advises:
Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 NASB
In the parable Jesus shared the seed is the Word of God. The Word of God is a prerequisite for faith (see Romans 10:17), and many of us have been sowing that precious seed in a family member or a friend or a co-worker or a neighbor for years with no measurable result.
Don’t give up.
Perhaps it is time for research in the form of seeking God in prayer and asking His advice on the most productive sowing techniques. It is His Word, and He knows more about human hearts than we ever will. Are we willing to follow His lead and try new methods?
Sowing the seed of God’s Word is hard work and often takes a team; more than one person working the garden.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6 NASB
But in the final analysis only God can bring the harvest.