Further to the carrot comment..

One day I’ll achieve carrot germination like this (below)…

If you haven’t tried, you’ll have no idea how difficult this is.  It requires consistent moisture for about three weeks running (not to mention good, fresh seed).  That’s impossible in an Aussie spring.  A week of cool, damp weather will be followed by sunny blasts with drying winds, and what had looked like dark, rich, humussy soil converts to blowing desert dust in a few hours.

After years of frustrated attempts, I decided this year to get in early, and beat the Jekyll-and-Hyde weather systems of spring by sowing carrot seed in late winter.  My theory, which I’ve already deleted several times from this post as I realise just how seriously unfounded it is, was that seed that takes forever to germinate in normal spring/early summer temps (like carrot and parsley), is going to be proportionally less effected by lower temperatures than fast germinating seed.  A ridiculous assertion, but one I feel inclined to hang onto.  Anyway, I just made the winter sowing date – on the 29th August.  The pic on the right shows the new-borns on the 18th September. The result wasn’t a perfect row, but was as good as I’ve ever done, and that without virtually any watering. I’m munching on one of the grown-ups as I write.

I also used what’s known in the UK as horticultural fleece, which is like a superfine doona that allows water and air through, but slows down surface drying (and also protects from attacking insects and a few degrees of frost, but neither of those were a concern).  I don’t know of a single retail supplier in Australia, but Sage Horticultural – a wholesale supplier – sells it via mail order, as white spun polypropylene.

Any other hints for the carrot germination obsessive?


By the way, the pic of the perfect row of young carrots above was taken in a tiny private vegetable garden in Bibury, in the Cotswolds, UK.  This was the view across the river, from that very garden..


  1. Hi Michael,

    You probably don’t remember me, but I met you at Leafmore Garden Club’s winter school in Toowoomba a few (4 or 5?) years ago. Had a chat about perennials, Dan Pearson etc over lunch.

    Well, to cut a long a long story short my focus these days is squarely on edibles. Carrots are a favourite of mine, and the best advice I can offer in addition to what you’re already doing (fresh seed, consistent moisture etc) is to start with a nice fine seed bed, and throw an offcut of shadecloth over the sowing until germination occurs. I use 50%. It’s ugly, but it works. And use a mister zozzle to provide the moisture – the seed washes away too easily otherwise. Late summer sowing also tends to be more succesful in my experience.

    Just returned from a trip to Tassie courtesy Blooming Tasmania. What a place! Absolutely loved it and was impressed by the quality of the gardens. I’m guessing you’ve been to Wychwood – it well and truly exceeded my expectations.

    Only came across your site a month or so ago, and I’m enjoying it. Thanks for sharing your stories and photos!



    1. Thanks Justin for the carrot advice. As it happens, I just stumbled on another reader who couldn’t believe I had any problems germinating carrots. I’d very clearly gone down in his estimation, but that’s unavoidable, given my habit for self-disclosure. He reckons that its a virtual hedge of carrots, every time. I’m in full sun ALL day and exposed to winds, while he’s deep among the trees. That, at least, was my defence.

      I’ve never been to Wychwood. I’ve heard heaps about it, and seen loads of pics, but have never been. Gotta get down there.

      And I do remember you. I was surprised (in my outrageous naievete) to find someone in Q’land who had their finger on the pulse of perennial movements worldwide – which only makes me more disappointed that you’ve gone edibles only.. Maybe that’s where I’ll end up myself.

    2. I wouldn’t say edibles only. Our philosophy is “beauty and bread” (from a John Muir quote), so the garden’s an evolving combo of edibles, ornamentals and ornamental edibles. I still have lots of perennials that are trying to come to grips with floods one year, drought the next. And grasses – Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ and Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ have just about been the pick of the bunch!

  2. If I had that view I wouldn’t plant a thing except my bottom in a comfy garden chair and just look longingly around me!

    1. Likewise, though I can’t imagine that there’s anything left to long for, with a view like that

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