For years, I thought I just didn't know how to grow carrots. They didn't germinate or grow well, so I was sure that I didn't have a green thumb in the carrot patch.

For years, I thought I just didn't know how to grow carrots. They didn't germinate or grow well, so I was sure that I didn't have a green thumb in the carrot patch.

Then, over a period of time, and with some research, I learned a few things about growing them. I've talked to a lot of people who say they don't have success with carrots, so if that includes you, here are a few things I've learned.

Carrots like sandy loam soil, and 60- to 70-degree temperatures. They are not drought tolerant. So, right there, we have some challenges for growing them in the Rogue Valley. To compensate, you might consider raised beds filled with loose soil rich in humus, rather than subjecting them to clay soil, which they hate.

Also, clay or rocky soil will cause them to fork and split.

In Oregon, carrots grow best along the coast, and in the Columbia and Snake River valleys. So, because they prefer cooler temperatures, they are most successfully grown in early spring and in the fall in the Rogue Valley.

For a spring crop, it will help to choose varieties that have a short growing season. Mokum, Parano, Nelson and Ya Ya are a few suggestions. For fall, planted in August, my favorite, by far, is Bolero, because I can "store" the carrots right in the soil without pulling them well into the winter months. If truly cold weather — enough to freeze the soil — threatens, cover them with leaves or straw.

Another secret I learned is that carrot seeds have a very hard seed coat. Soaking them overnight before planting helps germination. Then, drain the water off, spread them on a paper towel to dry the surface, and they will be easier to handle.

To plant the seed, after preparing a smooth seed bed, I use my index and middle fingers to make shallow holes in the soil — about a half-inch deep. I do not plant in rows, but in a band, with about two inches between the holes, in either direction. This way, I don't need to worry about thinning, and the carrots will shade out virtually all the weeds. Drop one or two seeds into each hole, and cover with sand or sifted potting soil.

Cover the seedbed with burlap or newspaper. It must never dry out, or the seeds will not germinate. Uncover them after they sprout. Keep well-watered during the growing season.

People often ask how to grow those "baby" carrots you find in the grocery store. You may be surprised to learn that they aren't baby carrots at all, but regular carrots that have been chopped and whittled to look small. That technique was developed to use the misshapen and less beautiful carrots.

Coming up: Master Gardener Myrl Bishop will teach a class on the more than 50 perennial vines suitable for the Rogue Valley, and their care. The class will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road in Central Point. The cost is $5. Call 541-776-7371.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at diggit1225@gmail.com.