In our house, carrots are a big deal. We love all root vegetables, but carrots are the most popular. The good thing is that root vegetables are pretty easy to grow. As long as your soil is loose and not compacted, they should do well. They really aren’t even that picky about fertilizer and prefer soil that isn’t necessarily as rich as what you would want for your tomatoes. The problem is that the seeds are tiny. We’re talking really small. Since you want your carrots spaced about 2 inches apart, you can drive yourself crazy bent over your garden bed trying to get them planted.
My favorite way to deal with that problem is with seed tapes. You can buy them at your local garden center with the seeds, or you can make your own. As you might imagine, that’s the way I go. We like a variety of carrots. This year I’m planting Red Core Chantenay, Berlicum and Cosmic Purple. All those colors are fun and add extra nutrients to our diet. Making seed tapes is easy. My kids, ages 7 and 10, even help.
You need single ply toilet paper. You want something that is going to pretty much dissolve when wet. Next you need glue. I use good old Elmers, because it is water soluble. You can also make a paste of flour and water if you don’t have glue. Then the seeds of your choice. Since I do this for carrots, beets, parsnips and turnips, we have a lot of seeds.
Lay your toilet paper out on the table to whatever length you want. My beds are 4 feet wide, so my tapes are just under 4 feet long. Dot the paper with the glue at the intervals desired for your seeds. In the case of carrots, I tend to make 4 dots per sheet of tp. Place the seeds one at a time onto the glue and allow to dry. It’s best if you can hang the tapes over something to dry. I’ve used my clothes drying rack. If you leave them on the table, they’ll stick. It isn’t a huge deal, but you may lose a few seeds along the way. Make sure they are completely dry, label and roll up until planting.
I love that I can do this in the middle of a snow storm and just put them away until spring. My daughter thinks it’s a fun project to help me with. My table will hold 8 tapes at a time. That is over 800 seeds perfectly spaced and ready to put in the garden.
At planting time, prepare your beds as you normally would. Make sure you get down deep. Then push aside the top inch of soil and lay out your tapes. This is not something you can do on a windy day. As you arrange them, put a handful of soil over one end. On the other side of the bed, straighten the tapes out and cover them completely with the soil you pushed aside. Water your seeds well and keep them wet. They will take a bit to sprout, so don’t despair. Keep them damp and they will come up. You get bonus points if you replant more carrots in July when these are ready. Enjoy your carrots!
Submitted by Heather Smith, who can also be found at Heather’s Homemaking.