One cannot imagine a vegetable garden without carrots. Carrots that are grown in a garden have a wonderful texture and are full of flavor. Carrots can grow in many climates and need little care. Therefore, Growing carrots is very easy.
In this article, I will walk you through the entire process for growing carrots. Starting from choosing the right variety, site and soil preparation, planting indoors and outdoors, growing carrots in containers, care to harvest, we will cover everything.
A Quick Guide on Carrot Plant
|Botanical Name||Daucus carota|
|Mature Size||Root size-six inches, leaf spread up to eight inches and can grow 1 foot high|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to light shade|
|Soil Type||A loose, well-draining, sandy soil|
|Soil pH||6.0–6.8 (neutral pH)|
|Native Area||Europe, Southwestern Asia|
|Specialty||Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A|
Let us begin with the carrot growing guide!!
Step 1) Choosing the Right Variety of Carrots
The classic carrot types are-
New cultivars include round, bite-size, or finger-length carrots for handy snacking.
You can select from early types (55 days to maturity) and late types (80 days). For fun and variety, try white, yellow, crimson, or purplish carrots.
Step 2) Site and Soil for Growing Carrots
Deep, sandy loam soil is best for growing carrots. If you have heavier soil, plant short cultivars. Or plant in a raised bed or raised ridge.
Carrots grow best with half a day of sun and will tolerate growing in light shade.
Steps for Site and Soil Preparation for Growing Carrots
- Work in 10 pounds of compost per 100 square feet to provide a balance of nutrients.
- Too much nitrogen produces soft, fork-rooted, poor-tasting carrots with rough skins.
- Rake the bed thoroughly and remove all stones and lumps to ensure that you create a fine seedbed.
Carrots are susceptible to soilborne problems, including carrot weevils, fungal leaf blight, root-knot nematodes, and white mold. To reduce the severity of these problems, don’t replant carrots in the same spot every year; rotate their position in the garden.
Step 3) Planting Carrots
a) When to Plant Carrots.
Plant an early crop as soon as the soil temperature reaches 45°F and the soil is dry enough to work. Then sow a fall crop, for both fresh eating and storage, in summer; harvest it just before the first frost.
Gardeners in mild-summer areas can have a constant carrot supply by sowing seed every three weeks until 45 days before the first frost. In areas with hot summers, stick with spring and fall crops: carrots harvested in midsummer heat are likely to be bitter and resinous.
If carrot rust flies are a problem in your area, delay planting until summer. (You can plant in spring if you cover your carrot bed with floating row cover immediately after planting and leave the cover in place until harvest).
b) How much to Plant
At each seeding, plant 20 to 40 carrots per person for fresh eating. One-half ounce of carrot seeds, which averages 10,000 seeds, will plant about 300 feet of row.
c) Planting Carrots Outdoors
Tiny carrot seeds need moisture to germinate but are easily washed away. Plant right after a heavy rain or after a good watering so the seeds can remain safely in place in already-moist soil.
Carrot seed takes 7 to 20 days to germinate with a germination rate of 50 to 70 percent. Because carrots are so slow to come up, mix in radish or quick-maturing lettuce seeds to mark the rows. Thinning and harvesting the radishes and lettuce also will help keep the soil loose.
d) Thinning Carrots
When the carrot seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin them to 1 inch apart. Thin two weeks later, to 3 to 4 inches apart. An easy way to do your first thinning is to use a rake, as shown on the opposite page.
Step 4) Seasonal Care
Apply parasitic nematodes to soil: If you had past problems with carrot rust flies or carrot weevils, drench the soil with parasitic nematodes before planting.
Cover seedbeds with floating row cover: If you’ve had past problems with aster yellows (spread by leafhoppers) or carrot rust flies, cover your crop with row cover from seeding until harvest.
Keep soil moist: Seedlings dry out and die easily. They also cannot poke through a soil crust. Water gently whenever the soil surface is dry.
Apply mulch: After seedlings emerge, mulch around them with 5 to 8 inches of grass clippings or hay. Gently hand-pull or clip off weeds that come up near the seedlings.
Thin seedlings: Thin seedlings when they are 2 inches tall, and again two weeks later, to ensure good air circulation around plants and to allow room for roots to enlarge.
Hill up soil around the base of plants: Exposure to light will make carrots bitter and cause the tops of the roots to turn green. Push up 2 inches of soil or mulch around plants to keep roots covered.
Water carefully: Once carrots have been thinned, cut back on water; too much can cause the roots to crack. If the soil dries out completely, gradually remoisten it over a period of several days. A sudden drenching can cause the roots to split.
Plant fall crops: Seed fall crops 85 to 100 days before the first expected fall frost.
Mulch late carrots: Freezing soil can crack and ruin roots. Apply 8 to 12 inches of mulch to keep soil from freezing.
Cultivate soil: If you’ve had past problems with wire-worms, cultivate next year’s carrot patch weekly four to six times in the fall to unearth and destroy wireworms.
Clean up: Remove all crop residues after harvest; destroy pest-ridden or diseased residues.
Step 5) When to Harvest Carrots
- Begin harvesting carrots as soon as they are big enough to eat; their flavor develops more fully as they mature.
- With spring crops, pull the roots only as needed. However, don’t leave your crop in the ground too long. Carrots left unharvested more than three weeks after they mature tend to be woody.
- Leave fall crops in the ground until they are mature. Harvest them all at once, on a day when the ground is moist and the air is dry. (Water the bed to moisten the soil if it’s dry.)
- Hand-pull the crop.
- If the roots don’t pull out easily, carefully loosen the earth around them with a trowel before hand-pulling.
Step 6) How to Store Carrots?
Store carrots for fresh eating in plastic bags in the refrigerator; they will last from three weeks up to three months.
To store fall-crop carrots, twist off the tops and place the roots, so that they don’t touch, in boxes between layers of moist sand or peat moss. Top them with a thick layer of straw. Carrots stored this way in a humid, cool place will last up to four months.
Step 7) Extending the Season
Extend your carrot harvest by mulching late plantings with 8 to 12 inches of grass clippings or hay before the ground freezes. Stick in a tall stake as a marker so you can find the crop when it is covered by snow.
Step 8) How to Grow Carrots in Containers?
Small finger-size carrots and ball-shaped types grow well in containers. Some to consider are-
- ‘Lady Finger’, tender
- 3.5 inch ‘Little Finger’
- ‘Tiny Sweet’, just 3 inches long
- Ball-shaped ‘Planet’ or Thumbelina’
Plant carrot seeds in light-weight soil mix in an 8 to 12-inch deep container. Place it in a sunny area. Thin the seedlings at least 2 inches apart.
Step 9) Propagating Carrots
Saving seeds from carrots isn’t easy to do. Carrots are biennials, producing seed in the second year. You must overwinter plants for seed under mulch, or dig up and store the roots for replanting the second spring.
To further complicate things, carrots cross-pollinate freely with other carrot cultivars and with the common weed called Queen Anne’s lace. Commercial carrot seed producers separate their cultivars by at least one mile to prevent cross-pollination.
Step 10) Solving Carrot Problems
To identify problems on your carrots, scan the list of symptoms to find the description that most closely matches what you see in your garden. Then look across the table below for the cause and recommended solutions. If roots are damaged, there may be little you can do except search out undamaged portions to harvest.
In the future, take preventive steps, like covering your plants with floating row cover to keep pests away.
|1||Seedlings fail to appear||Crusted soil, Seedling diseases, High temperatures|| Crusted soil Carrot seedlings can’t break through a surface soil crust. Seedling diseases Replant seeds 0.25 inches deep and keep the soil moist. In heavy soils, plant radishes in carrot rows to break up the crust.|
Cold, wet soils favor disease development. Reseed in well-drained soil when temperatures are warmer. Shade seedbeds for midsummer crops with burlap (remove at first sign of germination) or floating row cover (this can remain in place all season).
|2||Tan or dark spots on leaves; spots may be ringed with yellow||Fungal Leaf Blight||Leaves only are infected; roots are edible. If the infection is severe, spray copper. Destroy crop debris at end of the season.|
Plan to rotate crops, leaving at least 3 years between carrot-family plants. In the future, plant leaf blight—tolerant cultivars.
|3||Stunted, light yellow Aster yellows leaves; woody roots with tufts of white side roots||Aster yellows||Slightly affected plants may be edible. Leafhoppers spread this disease. There is no cure. Therefore pull and destroy affected plants.|
Control leafhopper problems by spraying neem, insecticidal soap, or pyrethrins in the evening.
|4||Winding tunnels in upper Carrot weevils part of roots, crown, and lower stems||Carrot weevils||Roots are usually ruined. If you can find any undamaged parts, they are edible. Drenching soil with parasitic nematodes may give some control.|
|5||Distorted roots with many forks, galls, and tufts of side roots||Root-knot, nematodes||Roots are edible though blemished, but will not keep in storage. In the future, practice at least a 2-year rotation with nonsusceptible plants (lettuce, onion. radish).|
In warm regions, solarizing the soil may reduce nematodes enough to allow good carrot crops.
|6||Tunnels filled with brown crumby materials in roots; white maggots in roots||Carrot rust flies||Undamaged parts of roots are edible, but they cannot be stored because maggots continue to feed in storage.|
Drenching soil with parasitic nematodes may give some control. Cover subsequent crops with floating row cover from seeding through harvest.
|7||Roots twisted around each other||Overcrowding||Roots, though deformed, are edible and will store well. For the next crop, plan to thin seedlings as soon as plants are established, leaving 1″-3″ gap between plants in the row.|
|8||Roots watery, dark brown, and rotted with cottony white mold||White mold (Sclerotinia)||Dig and destroy infected roots. Destroy all crop after harvest.|
In the future, practice a 2-year rotation with cottony white mold nonsusceptible crops (beet, corn, onion, spinach). Plant in raised beds to ensure good drainage.