This is a repost of the post I wrote yesterday, but Blogger ate. If they put it back up I'll delete this one.
Earlier this spring I did a very unscientific experiment on the best way to germinate carrot seeds. Well the results are in.
The first set of carrots was sown using and takeoff of Granny's method. I cut toilet paper into three foot lengths each 3/4" wide. Then every inch I put down a dab of glue and put on a seed. Then I hung them up in the nursery to dry (where my laundry lines are). Granny does them in blocks, but I like strips because I find them easier to cover with soil. I tried blocks one year and it was just too much work (I don't have a pile of nicely sifted dirt or compost). These were covered by burlap and watered every afternoon.
The next set shown above are the ones that were directly sown in the bed, but then covered with burlap. They have pretty good germination, but there are gaps and seeds that are too close together and had to be thinned out with difficulty (two carrots together are hard to thin).
The next set are the ones that were directly sown and then covered by boards to germinate. They were checked everyday to see if the boards needed to come off. These had the same sowing issues. No matter how hard you try to put one seed in the line, it just doesn't happen. The germination wasn't quite as good and some damped off after they came up. But it wasn't bad.
The last set was a weird one. I took a 1 1/2" wide strip of TP and put a seed in the middle and folded it over. I then wet it down and covered it in an inch wide strip of plastic wrap. Then I rolled it up. I waited a few days for it to start to germinate inside and unrolled it outside. The plastic wrap did its job of holding the TP together. But separating the two once it was unrolled was really hard. The TP kept falling apart as you would expect. But it worked. Above is the result. Germination was very good. There was one 8" section out of a 15' row that got killed by damping off but it wasn't too bad.
Though the last option made the plants earlier to germinate (by about a week and a half). They really aren't that much larger than the others. They have one more true leaf. Carrots don't grow very fast when it is freezing out. I expect that they would mature only a few days earlier than the others. So the effort isn't worth it. The board vs burlap doesn't change the germination time. I figured the burlap would be faster since the ground can warm up faster, but it really wasn't. One day or two isn't really an issue. But with the burlap there was no damping off as there was with the board. And obviously that matters to me as I've had a lot of damping off issues this year in the garden. I never had seedlings damp off in my last garden, but this one has other fungi in the soil. So for me it will be burlap. But if I need to germinate carrots while I'm not here, boards would be better as I don't have to water everyday. As long as I know they won't germinate before I get home it will work. Boards are much easier.
The TP strips work great and give nice even germination. I even found that it doesn't matter if the TP is on top of the seed or underneath. Both seemed to work. I'm wondering if germination was better than the non TP ones. It is hard to tell, but it might be. Does the TP provide more even moisture to the seed? Maybe. Just make sure that TP is totally covered or the air will wick all the moisture away from the seed.