Homegrown carrots are a must-have in your garden! Carrot greens and roots are edible; it isn’t easy to imagine any flourishing garden without carrots. These unique root crops, scientifically known as Daucus carota, come in many sweet and distinct varieties. These include Chantenay carrots, Imperator carrots, Nantes, Danvers, and other carrot varieties. The best part of carrots is that these crunchy and edible roots are pretty easy to grow!
Quick facts about carrots
Here are some critical facts you must remember if you want to know how to grow carrots:
- Carrots don’t like to be transplanted. It is advised that you plant them in the garden, exactly where you want them to grow.
- Carrots prefer full sun, but they will grow in partial shade as long as they get a fair amount of direct sunlight to grow. It would be best to sow your carrot seeds about 3 to 5 weeks before your last frost date.
- The more sunlight your carrots get, the faster your harvest.
- Carrots take up to two weeks to germinate but will grow to harvest anywhere between 60-80 days from sowing to harvest.
- Also, the seeds need to be consistently moist when you plant them. So it would be best if you moistened your seeds always, depending on the weather in your area.
- Carrots do not like heavy soil. Heavy soil makes it difficult for a baby carrot to penetrate and thrive. Carrots prefer light, loose soil.
How to grow carrots
Growing carrots is not difficult. If you follow the rules and grow them right, you can be sure to get edible treasures worth your trouble.
You can sow carrots from the top of the harvested carrot root. You can also plant carrots from seeds. However, it is best to grow them from seeds. To grow carrots from seeds, follow these steps;
Prepare your soil
Firstly, you have to prepare your home garden soil. Do not plant inside before the growing season with the hope to transplant the carrots once they start sprouting. Carrots do not like being transplanted.
In preparing your home garden soil, your goal should be to make the soil loose, light, stone-free, and at least 30cm deep.
If your soil is tight and compact, you can improve its porosity by adding organic matter such as light wood shaving (make sure they are not poisonous) and leaf litter to make the soil light.
Ensure that your carrots can grow straight down without any obstructive material like stones or even soil clumps that could interfere with the downward growth of the carrot plant. Rake the soil to a fine tilth to remove stones.
If you cannot remove the stones from your soil, you can use a raised bed or plant in a container. Ensure that the depth is no less than 30cm deep and the soil is light and stone-free.
Do not use clay soil. It is too tight as the carrot seeds will not grow to carrot seedlings because the seeds will find it difficult to penetrate the soil easily. Sandy soil with a lot of organic matter will work fine.
If you do not prepare your soil, you will harvest misshapen carrots. Carrot is a root vegetable, and it grows downwards. When it meets a stone or any obstruction, it will either fork or twist sideways to go around it.
Sow the seeds
Secondly, you have to mark out your seed rows. This will make the cultivation look organized. The seed drill should be about 0.6cm deep. You can use your thumb. The stretch between the tip of your thumb and the base of the fingernail on your thumb should do.
Growing carrot is best from early spring. Ensure that the row spaces between each carrot line are about 15cm apart. After marking out the space between each row of seeds to be planted, sow carrot seeds about 5 to 7cm apart depending on the variety you are growing.
Carrot seeds are usually very tiny. You might end up planting too many seeds in a spot. A great way to have an even spread of the seeds is to mix them in dry sand and sprinkle them sparingly along the rows.
Alternatively, you can use seed tape. The seeds are already spaced on it. The seed tape will naturally decay, ending up as a source of nutrients to your carrot seeds.
After planting, cover the soil but do not press hard. Finally, you can water lightly to drop the soil temperature and keep the seeds moist.
If you are using a container, fill the pot with loose, airy soil and press the soil down gently to make it firm. Do not press too tight as to make it too stiff. The soil moisture must be considered to ensure that your carrot seed penetrates. Spread the seeds thinly on the soil and cover the seeds thinly with soil. Water lightly. Alternatively, you could water the soil before spreading the seeds and more soil over the seeds.
The final step in planting is to label the portion of your garden or the container where you planted the carrots. The label should have the date of the sowing to estimate the probable time of germination. If you are planting more than a variety, it should also have the specific carrot variety listed on the seed packet.
Carrots Care and Protection
Thirdly, space well. Carrots need to be well-spaced to grow big. If you have clumps of seedlings, it would be best to thin them out by pulling out the excess seedling.
A better way to do this is to use a pair of scissors to snip the foliage of seedlings so that you do not damage the roots of neighboring carrots.
However, it would be best to do this on a still day so that the smell does not alert nearby carrot fly larvae.
Also, keep the soil moist, especially during dry weather, to aid germination. This will prevent the crop from bolting to produce seeds before they have even had a chance to grow roots.
Conceivably, one of the most significant steps in caring for your carrots is to protect them from the larvae of a carrot root fly. The hatched larvae of a carrot fly turn to maggots. They are notorious for damaging carrots.
Cover the area of the sown seeds with a fleece or row cover immediately after planting. It would be best to keep the covers in place throughout the crop’s life. Ensure to secure the cover in place.
Another way you can protect your carrots is to plant companion crops such as radish seeds, garlic, onions, and leeks. This will confuse the larvae.
If you are planting your carrots in pots, it would be best to raise the containers from the ground.
Ensure to remove weeds to minimize competition for water and nutrients. Occasional mulching with opaque mulch will prevent the tops of the carrots from turning green.
Finally, harvest your root crops at the end of the growing season. Harvesting carrots is like treasure hunting. It’s always thrilling and full of surprises.
Carrots mature once they reach the size of your thumb. Carrot seedlings also have a nice texture and rich edible carrot green. One way to know when your carrot is ready for harvest is to notice your carrot top poking out of the soil surface.
To get the best of these edible treasures, it would be best to harvest alternate carrots so that the roots left behind can have more space to grow bigger. This way, you get to harvest carrots only as needed.
You can leave the carrots in the ground and gather them later if you live in a mild winter location. Better still, you can dig them up and cover them in a box of damp sand. Ensure to keep the box in a dark and cool place.
Rich, colorful, edible, and very easy to grow! Growing carrots should be on the garden plan of every garden! What are you waiting for? Get that seed packet today to enjoy a fresh carrot every day!