Dry-gardening carrots requires patiently waiting until the weather
stabilizes before tilling and sowing. To avoid even a little bit of
soil compaction, I try to sprout the seed without irrigation but
always fear that hot weather will frustrate my efforts. So I till
and plant too soon. And then heavy rain comes and compacts my
perfectly fluffed-up soil. But the looser and finer the earth
remains during their first six growing weeks, the more perfectly the
roots will develop.
_Sowing date:_ April at Elkton.
_Spacing: _Allocate 4 feet of width to a single row of carrot seed.
When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin to 1 inch apart.
Then thin every other carrot when the roots are [f]3/8 to [f]1/2
inch in diameter and eat the thinnings. A few weeks later, when the
carrots are about 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter, make a final thinning
to 1 foot apart.
_Irrigation:_ Not necessary. Foliar feeding every few weeks will
make much larger roots. Without any help they should grow to several
pounds each.
_Varieties:_ Choosing the right variety is very important. Nantes
and other delicate, juicy types lack enough fiber to hold together
when they get very large. These split prematurely. I've had my best
results with Danvers types. I'd also try Royal Chantenay (PEA),
Fakkel Mix (TSC), Stokes "Processor" types, and Topweight (ABL). Be
prepared to experiment with variety. The roots will not be quite as
tender as heavily watered Nantes types but are a lot better than
you'd think. Huge carrots are excellent in soups and we cheerfully
grate them into salads. Something about accumulating sunshine all
summer makes the roots incredibly sweet.

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