The carrots-under-burlap germination method is now 3 for 4, with this fine performance: solid rows and almost no weeds! The third attempt failed miserably with three different varieties, mainly due to underwatering (the extra drying effect of a very windy week wasn’t given proper respect) combined with using the Earthway seeder’s light carrot plate, which puts down much less seed (what a bad idea, I fall for the allure of little or no thinning every few plantings…). Anyhow, it was back to the regular seed plate and proper checking and watering, and now, a new 800′ of Nelson and Touchon is on its way (although, something’s been munching on carrot seedlings lately). Never dull! :)
8 thoughts on “Burlap method strikes again!”
I’m as yet to manage sowing properly. Perhaps my clumsiness can be helped with one of the mentioned carrot plates – never heard of them before.
A terrific idea — so glad the experiment worked for you.
adekun: The carrot plate is off the Earthway Precision Seeder, an inexpensive, mostly imprecise but only-one-of-its-kind seeder that from what I gather is widely relied on in market gardens and nurseries in North America. I’ve been meaning to do a post on it, it’s really a cornerstone bit of garden gear for me. I have two, you can see ’em on the cart. There are 11 seed plates with different sizes and spacings of holes for different types of seed.
In any case, if you’re not doing long rows, just hand seed heavily, cover very lightly but firmly, and make sure the soil is always moist and doesn’t form a hard crust until germination. I did this with great results in Year 1. Covering to increase heat (or moderate it, if it’s really scorching) and to maintain moisture (mulch with anything easily removed: plastic, burlap) speeds things up to maybe a week in warm weather, otherwise carrots can take forever (2-3 weeks)!
Also, you may be losing emerged seedlings before you notice ’em, if you have a pest that’s munching them. This year, with later plantings, something’s really going to town, demolishing the seed leaves. You see tiny, leafless stems for about a day until they dry up and disappear, the whole demolition process is easy to miss! I’m looking into WEEVILS as I probably now have to…do something. It’s happened in years before, but nowhere near as seriously, it used to be only an annoyance, an insect tithe! Well, hope that helps! (Good to see your garden pics are back on your blog, when I started reading a while ago, you’d just left on a trip…)
Dawn: Thanks, the burlap works…unfortunately, after germination, it can be the BUGS’ turn (see above). Oh well, all part of the game! I WILL have a steady carrot supply… :)
Thanks for the lengthy reply and ideas. I too have had a few run-ins with Weevils. On inspecting a droopy onion, I would have the whole stem come away in my hand. They are crafty, as the plants seem okay for a few days. By then, they have already moved onto the next few. The only time I bought and used a potion was to treat the compost bin which they had turned into a nookie farm.
I think for me patience is the key with carrots. I spent ages thinning them out, it was a real waste of time. Nice to see the germination speeded up – any ideas for the roots?
I too really love my Earthway seeder! Especially for seed as tiny as carrots, it’s a real time saver.
Mike: If you are having an increasing problem with something eating the roots of the carrots, have you considered the carrot fly? This is really a frustrating pest, if it’s what you’ve got.
I’ve seen two approaches to the carrot fly, the first and most common is to keep the carrots covered with a a mesh or screen so the flies can’t land on them to lay their eggs. The second, that I read about on the Salt Springs Seeds website (http://www.saltspringseeds.com) but seems to have since been taken down, is to grow the carrots in an enclosed bed that can be periodically flooded with water, in order to kill the fly. Dan Jason at Salt Spring Seeds reported good results with the later approach.
Patrick: In my case, it’s not the roots, it’s the leaves and stems. It’s similar to caterpillar damage on, say, parsley, except on a smaller scale… Whatever’s munching, assuming it’s all one thing, is getting tiny emerged seedlings, and also coming along later, at up to an inch or two (2.5-5cm) in height, and eating off the leaves. Even on the tiniest seedlings, you can even see partially eaten seed leaves. Weevils are a likely candidate. Still haven’t fully investigated, like, come out at night with a lamp…
Below is a copy of a letter I’m sending to the names at the end and I would like more people to copy this letter and send it as well……
We have to protect our farms and reject the secret Farm Bill!
NO” to a Secret Farm Bill
I am writing to you as a concerned citizen and a supporter of Environmental Working Group. I am outraged that a new farm bill that shortchanges healthy food priorities while offering up a huge giveaway to corporate mega-farms may be attached to the deficit reduction plan being debated by the Super Committee.
Reducing the deficit has nothing to do with writing in generous new subsidies for mega-farms, and the Super Committee has no business writing our food and farm policies without hearing from us, your constituents.
I urge you to reject the Secret Farm Bill proposal crafted behind closed doors by the Agriculture Committees’ leaders so that we can have an open debate.
I don’t want a bill that offers up even more money for the biggest farms at a time of record profits; that shortchanges healthy, organic food; that kicks families off food stamps during a lasting recession; and that cuts millions of acres out of conservation programs. And neither should you!
Let Congress write a farm bill next year, in the open, so we can get a bill we can all support. Say NO to the Ag Committees’ secret farm bill.
Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
Senate Minority Leader
Senate Majority Leader