Dear readers, I need your advice. For the first time, we are encountering some kind of rot on some of our carrots. Is there a solution?

We went to the garden yesterday to harvest some bounty as a hostess gift for friends who invited us to dinner. I pulled out one carrot that broke off about 2 inches below the crown; the core was mushy. Clearly rotten. The next couple carrots were just fine. Beautiful, in fact.

But I pulled about a dozen carrots, and half of them were rotten. A quick Internet search offered several potential causes.

I took the two seemingly likeliest blights to the website of UC-Davis, which I respect for its agricultural and horticultural expertise.

Nematodes is a word that makes me shudder. Sounds way creepy. Which UC-Davis quickly underscored: “Plant-parasitic nematodes live in soil and plant tissues and feed on plants by puncturing cell walls and sucking the cell contents with a needlelike mouthpart called a stylet.”

That doesn’t seem to be the problem. Plus, I thought nematodes were more of a tomato problem. My tomatoes are fine, however.

Then I wondered if the abundant rain was the root of my root problem. We were joking last night about being in the midst of a monsoon season, an endless cycle of heat and too much rain.

Here’s what UC-Davis offered up.

“Pectobacterium carotovora is a common soilborne bacterium that attacks a wide range of fruits and vegetables. The bacterium enters carrots through various kinds of wounds. In the field, soft rot is most often associated with warm temperatures and standing water resulting from poor drainage, low areas, or leaky irrigation pipes.”

This seems like the most likely culprit. Does it mean I should harvest the entire carrot crop, discard what’s rotten, and try to salvage the rest? Will it only worsen if I don’t pull up the crop? It doesn’t seem to be affecting the neighboring parsnips at all.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

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