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Well-thinned carrots, growing well!

Touchon carrots

Checking in on the fairly massive time investment we made in thinning 800′ of late-planted Touchon carrots—and it’s paying off! Not that there was any doubt that thinning works, it’s just so…tedious. After laying down carrot seed thick (in other words, after using the Earthway seeder), we spent hours removing thousands of extra seedlings. Because these guys went in so late, I wanted to give ’em every shot at making the best of good weather and sizing up while they could. Now, the effect of 1″ (2.5 cm) spacing really shows. We still kept them pretty tight, thinning a few short stretches to 2″ (5 cm) for comparison, but mostly did them like this, aiming/hoping for a big yield of fairly slender full-size carrots towards the end of October. You can see, second from right, a little one that escaped. It may seem obvious, I’ve found appropriate spacing is easy to overlook or downplay. When you’ve actually seen the massive difference it usually makes, it’s hard to ignore! Think better seeder. :)



  1. Oh the tedium of thinning carrots! We use a Jang seeder, but since we can’t get consistent germination I usually just dump thousands of seeds like you and then thin them later. I’d really like to try a new plan for next year, much off season planning to get this carrot thing better.
    Thanks for the post!
    Eric & Annabel

  2. eric: Yeah, the germination thing. That’s exactly why I still use the Earthway for carrots. An approach I heard about and have been meaning to try for years is using the Earthway and cutting the seed with something same-sized and inert. Like, get the cheapest possible carrot seed and bake it. Then experiment with different ratios of viable to dead seed. I think I’d start with 30:70, 20:80, and a little 10-90. There’s probably even time to try it out this season! Asking around online might turn up someone who’s already perfected this, because I did read about it somewhere.

  3. Great post. I had never thought I could plant carrot seeds in Oct. but I’m going to go out and try this weekend and keep my fingers crossed for winter carrots. Carrots are one of my faves and use them in lots of recipes. How wonderful it will be to pick from my own backyard this winter as opposed to store bought. Yes, living in California has its advantages with mild winters.  Thanks for the great info. I will be back

  4. Hi Mike, Eric and others
    I’m really keen on that tip about cutting the carrot seed with some dead carrot seed.  You could consider setting aside 10 or 15 carrots each season to go to seed, do they flower in their second or first year? I can’t recall.  Another method I remember is to chop the top off of a carrot you are using in the kitchen and place the top half on some wet kitchen paper, it will develop roots from the bottom and start to shoot again, when you transplant it out it will definitely flower.  The last time I collected fresh carrot seed (nearly 10 years ago now) I remember getting quite a bit from a few flowers.  Would have to possibly be the cheapest source in my mind.
    Now I just need one of those bloomin’ seeders.

  5. Here’s my simple system:  Get a good seed guide, or just read the back of the seed pack.  It will tell you how many feet of row a given amount of seed will plant.  Mix the seed into some fine sand or dust.  I usually put a packet of seed into a quart of fine river sand.  Fine.  Next, I punch big holes into a canning lid/flat.  Screw that onto the quart jar, and go to the garden.  When your row is prepared, marked out for correct distance, and ready, tip the jar upside down, and let the sand/seed spill onto the ground as you walk the row.  With a little judgment and good eye, you can make the sand come out right.  If you hit the end of the row and still have sand left, turn around and go back over until the sand/seed has run out.

    Results: Nearly perfect distribution every time.  Not mechanical, and not ‘precise’ but very effective – and cheap. 

    • Sounds great! Any way to dilute the seed should be cool. I’ve also hand-seeded carrot with a little hand-shake Minisem seeder, where you can continuously adjust the size of the opening to exactly what you like, and that works great for carrots and tiny herb and flower seed, once you get a little practice. ONLY THING, hand-shaking and pouring tend to take a while, and you usually have to go back and cover the seed drill afterwards, a second step. Advantage with a walking seeder is, you can get 500′ or 1000′ or however much you seeding done in one pass, seed and cover, and on to the next thing. I can be lazy! :)

  6. For a number of years now we have used pelleted carrot seed, available from Johnny’s in the US and William Dam in Ontario. The little BB-sized clay pellets make spacing the carrots quite easy, and germination is very good. We do lots of carrots in our market garden and this has reduced thinning by maybe 80%

  7. Eating one raw carrot a day preferably in the morning can bind to endotoxin in the gut and improve your health. Try to add some vinegar and a little bit of olive oil to make it tasty.

  8. Many say they do not eat organic products that are safe, that do not meet the health situation, but really have no idea that the origins of any vegetable, fruit, etc.. was that, organic., I feel good and my family when we eat organic vegetables. greetings.

  9. Web Host Tutor

    These carrots are very well thinned out for maximum growth for the stalks that are left!!
    This shows the importance of how carrots should be thinned.
    Another great post :) Thanks finyfarm.

  10. Chloe

    I find this blog to be inspiring at least. I’m starting to grow veggies in the spring. God I would love it if it wasn’t a complete failure…lol. But I have 3 years worth of composted chicken droppings! So someone send a nubie a clue here…after the burlap or garden cloth to help those carrot seeds to germinate do you need to expose those seedlings to full sun gradually? and what about watering during that period if there is one. Also also carrot greens can you cook them? I know a lot of greens from various veggies are edible and good…Don’t know about carrots. I plan at the least to give them over to my chicken and let them have a hay day with them. They may eat it, but will definitely scratch it up and thus shred it and begin my composting process for the next years compost (and it will make them happy)

    • Hey Chloe, it’s easy! Water in your carrots before covering them. The cover then takes care of keeping the bed wet, so you shouldn’t have to water again until germination. Check back starting in about 7 days. You’re looking for tiny, hair-thin little green seedlings to start popping up. Once they start, they may all come up immediately, or it could take a day or two for a nice even line to appear, so decide if you want to wait, if so, check back daily for that day or two until you like what you see! Then, off comes the cover and you should be set.

      The seedlings don’t need to be hardened off to adjust for the full sun. But if you start carrots in mid-summer, when the sun is high and hot, after uncovering, you’ll probably have to water them daily for a couple of days at least, so they won’t dry out. You should recognize when they’re off and running, they’ll kinda start to look…sturdier, in a tiny way, after a bit of full-sun exposure.

      As for the greens, I still have never eaten them. They taste kinda bitter and…not so good raw. But people do eat them. It’s like, two camps. Try searching for “cooking with carrot greens” and you’ll see what I mean. Apparently, there’s a lot you can do with ’em besides feed them to rabbits! (In my bit of experience, chickens don’t really like carrot greens!)

      Hope that helps!

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