HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY GROW CARROTS
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFULLY GROWING CARROTS
Growing your own food is definitely a learning curve. Although carrots take little effort once you get them in the right soil, there are a few things to consider before planting these popular vegetables.
Plus, carrots are a fun vegetable to grow with children. They grow quickly and most children enjoy the taste of this vegetable. Learning how to grow carrots is easy, which makes is a perfect vegetable to grow for those just learning how to garden!
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARROTS
There are so many varieties of carrots out there, however they fall into 4 different types, based on their shape and size.
Danvers – This type is what you think of when visualize a carrot. They are usually orange, with a large top and pointed tip.
Nantes – This type has a cylindrical body that is the same from the top to the tip. The carrot greens are sparse and the flesh of the carrot is very sweet.
Imperator – These are commercial carrots and what you will find in the store. They are a higher sugar content than Danvers and the carrot greens are fast growing and full.
Chantenay – This carrot variety grows well in rocky soils and containers. It has full foliage that grows quickly. This type must be harvested early or it will become “woody” in flavor.
Ball or Mini – Minis are just that, mini! They look similar to radishes and grow well in containers as they only get 3”-4” long.
SOIL PREPARATION AND PLANTING
Soil is the most important aspect to consider when planting carrots. Carrots need soft, sandy soil to grow to full length. Till your soil up to 15” in order to allow room for carrot growth. Clay type soils may need to be amended.
They prefer a soil pH of 6.0-6.8 (slightly acidic), well drained and partially sandy. Carrots love potassium, which can be added with some wood ash if needed.
When planting carrot seeds, be sure to plant them directly into the soil. Carrots do not transplant well. Carrot seeds need to be planted about 1/8” deep, in rows about a foot apart. Water your carrot seeds frequently but do not flood them, as the tiny seeds can wash away and large amounts of water can compact soil.
Carrots should be planted in the spring and the fall. These should be planted 3 weeks before the last expected frost.
Carrots love full sun. However, they aren’t able to handle the heat. If you are planting in the summer, be sure to plant them in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Summer carrots won’t be as sweet as carrots grown in the spring or fall.
GERMINATION RATE AND THINNING
On average, carrots tend to take about 14-21 days to germinate. Carrots like the soil temperature to be between a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to plant your seeds when temperature average about 70 degrees outside.
Once carrot seeds have sprouted, you will need to thin out your carrots as growing carrots too close together can stunt their growth, and you’ll end up with a bunch of tiny carrots.
Thin your carrots as directed on your seed packet or as researched by the variety. A good rule of thumb is to keep a couple inches between each carrot.
COMPANION PLANTING WITH CARROTS
Many plants do well planting carrots.
The best companion plants include: peas, brassicas, tomatoes, lettuce, radish, chives, onions, peppers and beans.
Do not carrots near: potatoes, dill and parsnips.
PESTS AND DISEASE
Growing carrots is a great choice for beginners because there are very few problems with pests. However, it’s always important to know about potential issues.
The most common diseases include: Alternaria blight, and cercospora blight. Both of these diseases are caused by overcrowding and too much water on the leaves. Be sure there is enough air flow between plants.
The most common pests include: carrot rust flies and wire worms. Both pests tend to be kept at bay by crop rotation every few years. Companion herbs can also help deter pests.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR YOUR CARROTS TO GROW AND WHEN DO YOU HARVEST?
Carrots can take anywhere from 70-80 days to grow to maturity. You’ll know carrots are ready to be harvested because the tops of the carrots will be ¾” to 1” in diameter and many times will pop out of the soil (although not always).
Be sure to use a spade to harvest carrots. Many times, if you try and pull them up by hand, your carrots will break in half.
Plant many carrots and harvest in small batches as most carrot varieties taste great if left in the ground. This will allow you to have fresh carrots throughout the season.
Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables right out of the ground. They are also a great option to preserve. Carrots can be stored in a basement or cellar in large crates of cool sand. This helps them maintain their crunch throughout the winter as if you just took them out of the ground.
Carrots can also be frozen. Be sure to blanch carrots before freezing.
We eat everything we are able to fresh, then preserve the rest by canning carrots! Carrots do not have acidity levels high enough for water bath canning, so be sure to use a pressure canner.
You can also dry the carrot greens for teas and pesto! They are delicious too!
Learning how to grow carrots is a great way for beginner gardeners to be successful in the garden. Although there is a lot of information involved, carrots really are easy to grow and so fun to pull out of the ground! Be sure to add these vegetables to your spring and fall garden this year!