Who doesn’t love to crunch a sweet carrot? Even the ancient Greeks appreciated this easy-to-grow root vegetable. While the orange root is the most familiar part of the carrot, in the middle ages the frilly foliage was an important ingredient in flower bouquets and corsages. Now carrots are prized for being high in vitamin A and their versatility in recipes.
How to Grow Carrots
There are plenty of different kinds of carrots to plant to stretch your carrot creativity. Look for carrots in different colors – including red, white, purple and yellow – and different shapes, too. If you’ve had difficulty growing perfectly straight and long carrots, plant round varieties instead. Carrots are a hardy root vegetable that can be planted in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked.
- Plan to plant carrot seeds when the soil warms to 45 degrees. Amend the soil with compost or well-aged manure so it’s light and fluffy. Be sure to remove any rocks, roots or other debris to make it easy for the taproot to grow straight down. If the soil is too compacted, the carrots will be short and misshapen.
- Carrots can be planted in the vegetable bed, but they can also be grown in large patio containers, too. Smaller carrot types work best for containers.
- A soaker hose placed through the garden will help keep soil moist and assure carrots receive adequate water.
- Carrot seeds are tiny and they take time to germinate. To keep track of the rows, drop radish seeds along the row during planting.
- Plant carrot seeds ½ to 1-inch deep, several inches apart in the row, with rows at least 14 inches apart. An alternative method is to buy pre-measured seed tape or make your own. Seed tape is placed in a shallow trench and the paper decomposes as the seeds germinate.
- For a steady supply of carrots, plan successive plantings every few weeks until mid-July. Once carrots germinate, mulch the bed with straw, untreated grass clippings or dry leaves. Mulching helps conserve soil moisture and reduces the need for weeding.
- If the carrots are too close together, thin the plants so they’re about 2 inches apart in the rows.
- Keep carrots watered and don’t allow the seeds to dry out or the soil to get crusty.
- For the best quality carrots, sidedress the plants between 4 and 5 weeks. Apply a well-balanced fertilizer on both sides of the carrot rows 6-8 inches from the plant. Rake the fertilizer into the soil and water after application.
- The best tasting carrots are those that are young and slender. Pull carrots when the roots are 1-1 ½ inches in diameter at the top; remove the greenery as soon as possible, place carrots in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable bin in the refrigerator.
Plant carrots with these companions:
- Early potatoes
Materials for Success
- Soil thermometer
- Soaker hose
- High-quality compost and manure
- Light weight mulch
- Radish seeds
- Well-balanced dry fertilizer
To learn more about growing carrots or about growing your own edible vegetable garden, contact the pros at Nick’s Garden Center.