I've tried to grow carrots for 2 years in a row with no luck! I'm in South Western Ontario, Canada- about an hour from Detroit, MI. First year, we planted according to pkg directions, sowed directly in the ground sometime in May IIRC. The tops grew so nice and lovely, we couldn't wait to pull them up and eat them. We waited. And waited. And waited. The carrots never got any bigger than the size of my toddler's pinky finger even past harvest!? So then last year I sowed them indoors and planted them as small seedlings in the garden. They got super big, but they were all deformed- more like these bulbous fat things, all gnarly and such, they were not useable at all. What is the secret!? I am determined to have a nice yield of carrots this year, hope I'm not too late to start from seed indoors again, it need be.
Also, I tried potatoes for the first time last year. They had lots of long eyes growing on the spuds I planted- I got one small potato from the project!!?? The sun wasn't the best in that patch on that side of barn, it was the first time we planted anything there, that's the only thing I can guess. We've had tons of success with everything else we tried- tomatoes, squash, melons, watermelons, peppers, beans, berries, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. I just can't seem to figure out the carrots! I'm hoping I'll do fine with potatoes if I just move the plot to a better spot. Thanks!
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
It is possible that your soil needs to be richer. I have never grown Potatoes. but I have grown carrots. they grow well in my experience in rich soil- which means soil that has had enough composted soil and possibly minerals added to it- nice thick black soil. And also carrots gro well in soil that doesn't have a lot of rocks in it that they would have to grow around, and is nice and loose. so essentially build thick beds with good soil and that should help!
Also there are different varieties of carrots so look into the characteristics they offer.
Our first year carrots didn't really grow. They stayed small as you mentioned, and some were deformed. I added more hummos to the soil (compost) to loosen up the clay, and added a bag of sand to that area, and tilled it in well. I also NEVER step anywhere near the carrots. That apparently worked, because we had great, long and thick carrots last year! I imagine potatoes need similarly loose soil so they have room to expand. The more you step near or around the root vegetables, the more compacted the soil will be. Our beets and turnips loved the sand-amended soil too.
You aren't generally supposed to transplant carrots, they will get deformed like that. They like very loose soil, even sandy if it has enough nutrients too. What variety are you growing? Danvers and Chanteney red core have worked for me in my dense soil, they never got that fat (adult's finger width at best for most of them) but got above 6" long. I did have to wait longer than the 90 days the catalog said for fair sized ones, harvested over the following couple months as needed. Oh and thinning them was a pain, it's hard to plant those tiny seeds at proper spacing so I had to ruthlessly go through and pull anything closer than 2" from each other early on, otherwise they're very tiny carrots in the end.
I experimented last year with a couple storebought red potatoes that started sprouting in my pantry, buried them in the garden and watered with everything else. I got a couple of handfuls of little new potatoes in late summer, very yummy. So I planted real seed potatoes this year. Did you hill your potatoes? They tell me every time the plant starts getting tall you pile on dirt but don't cover leaves much. Did you give them lots of water? Lots of compost or manure and nutrients?
Yes, carrots need deep, loose soil. If I want to grow standard (long) carrots, I sift the soil in the section of the bed where I'll be planting. Usually, I'm not willing to bother with that, so I grow sharter carrots, like Danvers half-longs. The shorter carrots generally grow better in heavy soil, so might be worth trying.
For the potatoes, my yields are low compared to other growers I know, but do much better than what you described! How did you plant the potatoes? Did you hill them?
Carrots do need nice, light soil. If you have clay soil like I do you will need to either amend it a lot (as the PPs have mentioned) or grow short carrots in deep containers. I like that you're so determined to grow something that's cheap and readily available at the store (though not nearly as good!) Good for you!
ETA: I also do potatoes in containers, although I'm trying some in the ground for the first time this year. Do you think your potatoes actually failed to grow tubers, or could the tubers have been eaten? How did the plants themselves do? Did they look healthy? The year before last I put mine in a semi-shady spot and the tubers I got were pretty small, though I think the plants were affected by some sort of blight. I would def move them if I were you, and maybe just plant a couple store-bought ones like JamieCathryn mentioned, so you won't be too disgusted if they don't do well.