Way back in April, I mentioned in a post that I was trying a different method to get better germination in my carrot seeds. A Master Gardener colleague, Rhonda Elliott, came up with this method and I was anxious to give it a try. I had intended to blog about this much sooner but I got busy and, well, you know how that goes.
Rhonda suggests planting the carrot seeds like you normally would, covering them with a little bit of soil, watering them in and then -- here's the unusual part -- covering each row with a board for one week. The board prevents the soil from forming a crust on the surface, which is something that can make it very difficult for the delicate seedlings to push through. The seeds will germinate about a week after the board is removed.
The top photo shows the bed after I'd planted the carrot and parsnips seeds in it in early April. Since both crops need the same care, I always grow them together. While the boards were on the bed, I had moved the soaker hoses out of the way since they wouldn't be needed just yet. There were also hoops over the bed at that time because I covered the bed with netting for the first few weeks to prevent birds from nibbling those tender, new seedlings. The netting has since been removed.
The bottom photo shows how the bed looked last week. As you can see, Rhonda's method was a roaring success.
I thinned the seedlings a few weeks ago and they are growing nicely. Which reminds me, if you haven't thinned yours yet, march on out to the garden and do it now! (sorry, I just sounded like your mom, didn't I?) But this is so important. If you don't thin them, the roots will not develop properly and you will be very disappointed with the results.
I mentioned this carrot-seeding method in my April 1st column. If you didn't see it or want to write a note to yourself to try this method next year, here it is: Cool-season crops can be stored through fall, winter. And just in case you're wondering, I'm growing 'Royal Chantenay' carrots this year.