July 1st is Carrot Day too! It is time to sow the carrots as well as beets, rutabagas, turnips, winter radishes that you want to eat over the winter. The first week of July seems to work fine for carrots for most gardens in the region. You can sow beets and turnips a week or two later with good results, but if you start seeds much later than that, you will run out of growing days to mature the roots. They will still be edible of course, just small. If they are small in the fall, that’s all…because plants and roots grow as large as they are going to get by about the end of October. Plants don’t grow noticeably in the winter months andm because carrots and other roots are biennial plants, in the spring they will just send up flower stalks rather than grow larger roots.
And here is a review of how to start seeds in the summer: The soil is too warm right now for good germination of carrot (and lettuce) seeds so you should shade seedbeds until the seed has germinated. This will take 7-8 days for carrots, 3-5 days for other roots (check daily and take off the cover as soon as the first tiny shoot of green appears). Shading also keeps the seedbed evenly moist for the germination period. Once your seeds are planted and the soil is watered, cover the beds with anything that shades the soil until the first tiny green shoot shows. You can use burlap, old beach towels, newspaper, curtain fabric, shade cloth, but do not use floating row cover (Remay), which is designed to let in light and keep in heat. If the weather continues hot, you might want to add another layer of opaque white plastic (e.g., cut from a compost or chicken feed bag) on top of whatever material you are using to shade the soil. Right now it sounds like July 1 will be partially cloudy and the daytime maximums won’t be too extreme: ideal for seeding those carrots. Check daily for germination and water as needed (usually every 2-3 days).
If you are going to use insect netting or floating row cover to prevent carrot rust fly from laying eggs on the plants, note that this is only effective if the netting is in place before the carrot leaves show above the ground. Adult rust flies are very acute at detecting the scent of the tiniest carrot leaflet so make sure there are no holes in the netting or gaps around the lower edges, which should be held down tightly to the soil (with stones, lengths of scrap wood, etc.). You can put the netting on the bed at sowing time and lay the shade material on top of that until seeds sprout. Or, since carrots take at least a week to germinate, you can cover the seedbed with burlap for the first 6 days, then remove it and put on the insect netting; if it is still hot at that time you can drape shade cloth over the netting for another couple of days.
Regular readers will be familiar with my recommendation to move to insect netting instead of floating row cover fabric, which is flimsy and doesn’t last long (but it does work and if that’s what you have, do use it). The sturdy, knitted monofilament insect nettings now available have a 7-year guarantee, but I suspect they will last longer than that). Look for ProtekNet, available on Salt Spring from Chorus Frog Farm; near Victoria from Russell Nursery on Wain Road; in Duncan at Dinter Nursery (they may have a similar product: Enviromesh) or bug your local nursery to bring in a sturdy insect netting product. The ProtekNet distributor in Canada is Dubois Agrinovation in Montreal www.duboisag.com; they sell it in 100 m rolls (order the 60 gr mesh size). ProtekNet is sold mail order by William Dam Seeds http://www.damseeds.ca and Enviromesh is also carried by Amazon.ca. If you can’t find the product locally or want to save money, get together a group of gardeners and order a 100 m roll from Dubois yourself—they will ship to individuals.
This week marks the 8th anniversary of this newsletter, which I started in 2008 as way to remind gardeners on Salt Spring Island to sow their carrots and other winter harvest crops on time. There are now thousands of readers all over the coast of British Columbia and Washington state: Happy Carrot Day everyone!
About Linda A. Gilkeson, Ph.D.
Linda earned a Ph.D. in Entomology from McGill University in 1986, then moved to British Columbia to work for Applied Bio-Nomics Ltd., a company that produces biological controls. From 1991 to 2002 she worked for the provincial government, promoting programs to reduce and eliminate pesticide use. She was head of the provincial State of Environment Reporting Unit for the next six years, then the Executive Director of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy until the end of 2011. Linda now devotes her time to writing, teaching and consulting.
Linda has co-authored pest management training manuals for the government and organic gardening books for Rodale Press. She has self-published two books: Year Around Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast and West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weed and Disease Control. Her recent book, Backyard Bounty: The Complete Guide to year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, has become a BC best seller.
As a private consultant, Linda is a regular instructor in the Master Gardener programs in BC and is busy year around giving workshops on pest management and organic gardening.
Linda has served as President of the Entomological Society of Canada, the Professional Pest Management Association of BC, the Entomological Society of BC and the Salt Spring Island Garden Club. She was awarded a Queen’s Jubilee medal in 2003 and an outstanding achievement award from the Professional Pest Management Association of BC in 2005.
Follow Linda's work at lindagilkeson.com