Q: We are trying to grow carrots in our garden. I prepare the soil well and the other vegetables do great except the carrots. The carrots are very short and many have 2 or 3 short roots. What am I doing wrong?
A: You may be preparing the soil well enough for most vegetables but your carrots are proving that more work is needed. Twisted, short or split roots are a sign that the carrots encountered stones or clods of clay. Next time, dig a trench in your garden twelve inches wide and as long as you care to excavate. Mix native soil, soil conditioner and gritty sand at a 1:1:1 rate and fill the trench with it before planting the seed.
You can plant carrot seed in mid-August and harvest a fall crop. To keep the soil moist at all times, soak the soil and cover the row with a board after planting. Lift the board each day to see if seedlings have emerged and remove it when you first notice them. Thin seedlings to one plant every two inches. A few should be eating size by mid-October but you can leave the plants in the garden, eating a few each week, until severe cold arrives. Try a second planting in mid-February next year.
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