Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Carrot Seed Tape

This is a winter gardening project I've wanted to do for the past three years and I've finally gotten around to it. I found it in a self-published binder/book called Gardening in the Mountain West by retired Cooperative Extension agent Barbara Hyde. As soon as I read it, I realized it would be a great solution to carrot seeding. I hate thinning plants generally and I find thinning carrots particularly challenging because I always end up seeding them too thickly -- darned tiny seeds.  I never seemed to be able to pinch them off properly either, and I would end up yanking some out and messing with the survivors' roots, which can lead to forked roots. I'm determined to grow lovely, straight carrots this year.

The process, in a nutshell:

Unroll a long sheet of single-ply toilet paper.

Make a flour and water paste (mine was about the consistency of heavy cream.)

Pour carrot seeds into a bowl.

Use a toothpick dipped into the paste to pick up a carrot seed and deposit it onto the paper.

Repeat, spacing the carrots out the recommended distance (one inch, for my variety, at least.)

Allow to dry thoroughly, roll up, label and store (I'm going to put them in a paper lunch sack for another month or so.)

When it comes time to plant, make a trench, lay in the toilet paper and cover to the recommended depth. Paper and paste disintegrates and you have a nice neat row of properly spaced carrots.

In reality, it's not possible to pick up one carrot seed and you have to be careful not to let the paste drip into the bowl of seeds. I figured out a system eventually, picking up a small clump of seeds and wiping them on my index finger to separate them out, then using the paste-dipped toothpick to lift each separate seed and wipe it gently onto the toilet paper.

I can't wait to see how these plant out. I'll report back with pictures.

Oh, and definitely do not attempt this project if you have a cat and she is awake.

Edited to add: I ended up making 50 linear feet of tape (couldn't bring myself to waste the seed that I poured too liberally then splattered with flour paste) -- once the dog figured out that my crouching over the toilet paper was not a play bow, and once the cat went back to sleep. I'm thinking this  will make succession seeding of carrots crazy easy -- just tear off four or five feet every week or two and plant!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this helpful information. I'm definitely going to use it since my carrot seed went bust! I think I planted too deeply. I'll be a new follower.