August 13, 2012

Starting Fall and Winter Carrots, in the heat!

It is August and it is time to start fall and winter plantings of carrots and other crops. Most of my other crops are started from transplants, carrots are a different story. Carrots are hard to get to germinate, especially in hot and dry weather. This year we are very familiar with hot and dry! I plant our carrots in beds that we cover later in the year with our movable high tunnels. This way we can better utilize our high tunnels. Currently the movable high tunnels have tomatoes planted under them. We will be moving the tunnels off the tomatoes and over the carrots around Thanksgiving time, depending on the weather. So, I have to use extra measures to ensure germination. Here is the process. First we till up the beds and add any soil amendments. We rake the beds out smooth and lay out the two runs of drip lines per beds. Photobucket Photobucket Next we plant two rows of carrots for each run of drip tape. We use an Earthway planter with a the heavy carrot plate. I have tried the light carrot plate and I wasn't happy with the result. I wish there was a medium plate. After we plant, we turn on the drip and soak the beds. Next we cover the beds with row cover. Photobucket Once we put the row cover down, I wet it down. Then I come back and wet it down every day 2 to 5 times a day. Just to keep it moist and cool. For the next planting, I am going to use misters on a timer. Photobucket I start checking under the row cover on day 4 to see for carrot germination. Usually there is none. On the end of day 5 to the start of day 6 it is time to flame weed. Flame weeding is basically using a propane burner to burn and kill the weeds before the carrots come up. However, one has to remember that the carrots are germinating under the soil surface. I use a burner that hooks up to a 20 pound grill bottle. Photobucket Here is a before weeding picture. All the green are weeds, not carrots. Photobucket Photobucket Here is the after flaming the beds. Photobucket After flaming, we return the drip lines and soak the beds down. Depending on the weather, one can return the row cover or not. It has been cooler, so I chose not to cover. Photobucket On the morning of day 7, here is what I saw. SUCCESS! Photobucket Now on day 9, I have 4 rows of carrots growing. Sorry I don't have a picture. You can see the carrots growing the whole length of the bed. It does take time however the pay off is wonderful sweet and crunchy winter carrots! Carrots