Friday, February 20, 2009

Stick and carrot

Okay, here are the results of the carrot/cold frame experiment. (Warning: It is not pretty. You might need to avert your eyes.)

This is "Amarillo," a yellow carrot, so I think the color is right. However, they were small and not especially tasty (they were supposed to be sweet, according to the catalog). I planted in September and harvested in February, so they had plenty of time to get bigger and tastier. They were thinned to 1-1.5 inches apart.

So help me out, carrot people. What happened?

Too little light? Too little water? Soil not fluffy enough with compost? All three?

Post 'em!


  1. Susan,

    I know nothing about carrots and/or vegie gardening...but am here to learn.


  2. Well, they're cute.

    Sorry i cant help. not much experience growing cold frame carrots.

  3. Susan, I've never grown carrots in a cold frame. Sometimes, mine look like that even during summer. I saw some good info about cold frames here:

    It's written by our NW garden guru Ed Hume (I posted recently about visiting his garden). it's mentioned there that
    round or little finger carrots grow well in cold frames..
    Good luck!

  4. I have the same problem, never luck with carrots. My mother and Skeeter grow them though. Not sure the trick, if I ever find out I will for sure share it.

  5. I'm not a carrot expert either, grew my first ones this year. But I'm going to take a guess based on some of my reading. I've read that too much nitrogen will produce top growth at the expense of root development. Nitrogen also makes the roots hairy. And I must say that your tops look better than my tops ;) So, there's my free advice, and you know what that's worth!

  6. Hi Susan,

    I've found I've had to grow carrots in pure compost to get any results at all. However, all the allotment 'old hands' surrounding my plot seem to have no trouble at all with just sowing them straight in the ground.

    Mind you - I'm still picking mine this year and very they are tasty too

  7. Hm, I have not had the best luck with carrots either, especially overwintered ones. Root crops probably take more soil nutrients than leaf ones, I imagine, so could it be a nutrient deficiency issue? Dunno, sorry! Hope you figure it out. Carrots fresh from the garden are like nothing else, as I can attest from pulling them at my folks' place!

  8. Thanks for the input everyone. I'm guessing it had something to do with not enough light and water. I'll be curious to see how the carrots turn out this summer, when there is not shade from the cold frame walls, and when they get steady water from the drip irrigation system...

  9. I'm going to try to help. I went to lubbock once when I lived in southern NM. They grow onions in the area I lived through winter and I think that shows you could grow a root crop through a lubbock winter in a cold frame. Meaning there's enough sunlight-energy to produce a carrot.

    I tried to grow carrots this year in a planter box of pure compost. All I got were little, smaller than yours. I don't think its the compost. Possibly too much nitrogen, as carrots don't need so much as it all goes to their tops.

    But I have this idea that carrots really require well-drained soil. If your soil is anything like mine was in NM, it was clay/clay&loam mix. I think carrots like SAND. If you mix up your bed with quite a bit of sand, you may get much better results. Top dress with compost. That should be all the nutrients you need for awhile. Also, stay near a neutral PH.

    Grow those babies in the winter! You probably know this site, but I'll give it anyway- has links:

  10. I'm impressed by your amazing efforts, whether they work out or not. It's wonderful to be a bystander and learn from your successes & mistakes:)

  11. I read somewhere that frosts actually sweeten carrots, so maybe if they were in the coldframe, they didn't get the sweetening effects of frost??

  12. Poor carrots. At least they're somewhat straight. I get these gnarled multi-stemmed things in my garden. Not right now of course. Just seeds going on now.

  13. Susan, I haven't tried your cold-frame experiment here in Montana, but several things others have said, put together, might explain the problems.

    First, carrots are light feeders and don't need (or want) much nitrogen. Second, they do need very well-drained soil, especially in cooler months. It's easy to over-water greenhouse and cold-frame vegies in cool weather, causing various problems.

    Finally, I wonder if they're just immature, despite the time they spent in the ground. (Cooler weather--less light--less growth.) They look like mine do when they're not yet ready to pull. Did you leave some in the ground? Pull a couple in a month and see how they are.

    Breathlessly awaiting updates--


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