Success with carrots

What unthinned carrots and parsnips look like...
Have you thinned your carrot seedlings yet? This is the single most important thing you can do to have carrots with beautiful, straight and "normal" roots.

Unfortunately, thinning carrots is on my list of gardening tasks that I really don't like! That's because it's quite tedious.

I used to grow carrots in blocks, meaning I would broadcast the seeds over at least half of one of my raised beds. This worked pretty well except for the fact that it was an absolute nightmare to thin. You wouldn't believe how long it would take me to sort it all out and space the seedlings about 3 inches apart in all directions.

Thinned carrot seedlings.
A few years ago, my husband Bill came to the rescue for me. He said, "Since you know you want the carrots 3 inches apart, why don't you plant individual rows that are 3 inches apart? Then when it comes time to thin them, you only have to thin the carrots within each row?"

Well, duh. Why didn't I think of that?! It is so much easier and doesn't take me long to do at all.

I should also mention that I grow a row of parsnips in the same bed since they have the same cultural requirements as carrots. Thinning parsnips is just as important as thinning carrots, and I use the same spacing of 3 inches in between plants.

Another thing that's really important to growing healthy carrots (and parsnips) is fertilizer. Since they're a root crop, the nutrient they need the most is phosphorus because that's helps with root development.

Before I planted my carrot seeds, I worked some blood meal into the top few inches of soil because it's high in phosphorus. Another fertilizer I've used for the same purpose is "Root Crops Alive!" from Gardens Alive! since it's also high in phosphorus. Both blood meal and Root Crops Alive! work well crops like onions, garlic, potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips and beets.

Just that one application at the start of the season should be sufficient. Before long, we should be nibbling on sweet, homegrown carrots! Mm-mmm.