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If you love to grow your own vegetables, then you should consider making carrots a part of your garden. The good thing about rearing these plants in your garden is that they are flavorful plus full of texture.
What’s even better about these root vegetables is that they are long-lasting and can adapt and survive in different climates.
Quick Facts About Carrots
- Botanical name: Daucus Carota
- Type of plant: Vegetable
- Soil type and pH: Loamy and sandy; neutral pH, slightly acidic
- Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade
- Size: 6-inch root, 9-inch spread, 1-foot foliage height
- Bloom time: Spring, which is its 2nd growing season
- Flower color: White
- Hardiness zones: Zones 3 to 10
- Native area/s: Southwestern Asia and Europe
A Short Overview of Carrots
Generally, carrots (Daucus Carota) are recognized for being easy to grow. The only thing that you have to make sure of is that you plant them in sandy and loose soil during the cooler parts of their entire growing season. This is usually between the early spring and fall as the carrot is capable of tolerating frost.
It would take around two to four months for them to mature. This duration will depend greatly on your chosen variety as well as the conditions in your locality. To enjoy a bountiful and continuous harvest once the fall comes, it is highly recommended to plant carrots during the summer and spring seasons.
You may also want to check out the companions for carrots article.
Popular Carrot Varieties
You may have come across plenty of carrot varieties when shopping for one at the supermarket or grocery. Note, though, that once you decide to plant this vegetable, you will discover that there are actually more varieties that you can choose from. This is specifically true once you start to shop for seed packets.
Depending on its type or variety, you can enjoy the different colors of carrots. You can find those in the shades of eggplant purple, vibrant orange, golden yellow, and ruby red. Regardless of your selected type or variety, you will surely enjoy having a good collection of tasty homegrown carrots.
The Imperator is the most common carrot variety that you can see in supermarkets and grocery store. This type is known for having a higher amount of sugar compared to other varieties of carrots. It also tends to stand out due to its fast-growing foliage.
The Nantes got its name from where this carrot grows and survives the best, which is a region in France. This type is not tapered, making it different from the Imperator.
You will notice that it is perfectly cylindrical starting from the top down to the bottom. It is a low-maintenance crop that you will surely enjoy for its crunch and sweetness.
You can also cultivate Danvers carrots, the variety that was initially developed and cultivated in Danvers, Massachusetts. This carrot boasts of its long and skinny structure, which allows it to grow and survive in different soil conditions, like clay soil. This variety often comes in orange but there’s also a chance that you will encounter other colors of it.
This variety is ideal for you in case the condition of the soil in your area is not that perfect for a garden. In such a case, you can just grab the carrot seedlings from the Chantenay variety.
Chantenay has the advantage of growing and surviving well even in heavy soil. It can reach around 6-to 7-inch long. This type of carrot has to be harvested at the right time to prevent it from losing its natural taste and flavor.
Some baby carrots available in supermarkets and grocery store are actually shaved-down versions of full-sized ones. Despite that, you can still find actual mini carrot varieties.
Some of these carrots are as small as radishes. Fortunately, they are sweeter compared to the others. The tiny sizes of the mini carrots make them perfect for containers that you can integrate into the garden in your patio.
How to Plant and Grow Carrots?
Determine the perfect time for planting carrot seeds
The first thing that you should learn when it comes to growing carrots is when is the perfect time to cultivate them. One fact about carrots is that you can expect them to survive when the weather is cold. That said, start to sow the carrot seeds or planting its seedlings once you notice that the soil is already workable during the spring.
You can even do it around 2-3 weeks before the last frost date. It is then advisable to do succession planting every two weeks or so throughout the entire season. If you live in an area with a warm climate, it would be better for you to grow carrots during the fall through winter.
Select the perfect site
It is also crucial to look for the perfect location for your carrots. Look for an area where it can receive around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. Note that they can also survive with a bit of shade.
Make sure that you pick sandy, loose, and well-drained soil for your carrots. The reason is that these plants may mature slowly and produce rough roots if you force them to survive in soil conditions that are kind of heavy. The best thing to do is to make your carrots grow in raised bed gardens that have fluffy soil.
Prepare the soil
Make sure to do the necessary soil preparation for their healthy and proper growth. Your goal is to make the root grow without any obstruction; otherwise, it can cause misshapen and stunted crops.
Prepare the soil in your garden with these gardening tips:
- Till down to twelve inches – Ensure that no stones, soil clumps, and rocks will impede the growth of carrots.
- Do not amend the soil using a material rich in nitrogen – Some examples of these materials are fertilizers and manure that may only make the plants fork and produce some side roots. Use old coffee grounds for the soil amendment instead.
- Plant the carrots in a raised bed – This is highly recommended in case the ground soil is too rocky or composed of heavy clay. The depth should also be around 12 inches that you have to fill up with loamy and airy soil.
Make sure that there is proper support, depth, and space
Correct spacing is also crucial in ensuring that you will be harvesting healthy crops soon. Note, though, that the process is not that easy. It even needs a lot of thinning.
One of the most helpful carrot gardening tips is to plant the seed around one-fourth inch below the soil’s surface. Ensure that they are as even as possible and around two to three inches apart.
Keep in mind that while it’s okay for some carrot seedlings to sprout around half an inch apart, they need around a 3-inch space in between them as soon as they start growing.
To ensure that you do not hurt the remaining roots of your carrots, snip or pinch of their seedlings at the soil line. Also, remember that while carrots do not require a lot of support, they do not like to be disturbed or transplanted so avoid that as much as possible.
Actual Steps in Planting Carrots
- Sow seeds directly in your garden bed or any other place you intend to grow them – Again, you need to avoid disturbing their roots, so sow seeds, instead of transplanting. As a guide, they should be at a depth of one-fourth inch.
- Distribute the carrot seeds evenly to prevent them from growing together – If possible, utilize a seed sower. You may also want to thin vigorously to guarantee proper spacing.
- Water frequently to retain the soil’s moisture – For the small seeds of your carrot to germinate, it is crucial to make sure that the soil does not develop a hard crust over the surface. Use one layer or so of fine compost or vermiculite to cover the top and prevent the formation of crust.
- Wait for the successful germination – Note that in some cases, the germination process of the seeds is slow. It takes around two to three weeks before the seeds can show signs that they are thriving. That said, avoid panicking in case you were unable to see the roots immediately during the germination stage.
Growing Carrots in Containers or Pots
The typical soil requirement of carrots is loose and well-drained as it tends to deform and fork in case it deals with even a bit of resistance, like hard soil or rock in your garden. In the absence of loose soil, you may want to cultivate carrots in a pot or container. Just use a premixed potting soil, one designed for potted vegetables.
The best carrot varieties that are perfect for pots and containers are the small round ones or the short finger types. Carrots that have roots capable of maturing and growing to around two to three inches long can also survive containers and pots well.
For this method to work, choose a container or pot made of any material that has a diameter of around 12 to 24 inches. It also needs to have a minimum depth of 12 inches. Choose a pot with several drainage holes, too.
One more thing you should remember when growing and cultivating carrots in containers or pots is that they need a higher amount of water compared to crops grown and cultivated in the ground. In that case, watering the pot or container deeply once every week is a must.
Proper Carrot Care
Once you have already successfully planted the carrot seed, it is time to take the necessary steps toward caring for them. These plants actually need the following to guarantee their health.
Yes, the roots of carrots naturally grow underground but they still need light to survive. Their foliage specifically needs full sun to partial shade for the quick growth of their carrots. This light is also necessary for the carrots to develop their sugars.
As mentioned earlier, you need to supply your carrot plants with loose and well-draining soil. Never let clumps and rocks appear in the soil as those may only trigger the splitting and deformity of the plant’s roots. Also, note that carrots are fond of soils that are slightly acidic, usually with a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.8.
Your carrots need a minimum of one-inch water weekly. You may also want to try mulching as it can help in conserving water while retaining the cool temperature of the soil.
Humidity and Temperature
The biennial carrots typically grow and survive as annuals in every climate and zone. Despite that fact, it is crucial to remember that they tend to grow at their best and produce the tastiest crops if their environment has average nighttime temperatures of around 55 degrees F and daytime temperature of 75 degrees. F.
The use of a supplemental fertilizer may be essential in case you are using soil that does not have a lot of organic matter. You have to apply this around two weeks after you notice the plants’ tops emerging.
You can use any quality vegetable fertilizer. However, note that since you are growing carrots for their roots, avoid the excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers as such only support their foliage.
It is highly recommended to keep the packets of seeds around throughout the harvest period. Avoid completely relying on the noted maturity days, though, as those are average predictions.
If possible, watch out for signs that the carrots are already ready for harvest. One of these signs is when the topmost parts of the roots appear above the soil line.
Also, depending on your chosen carrot variety, harvesting is possible once the exposed crown’s diameter already reaches a minimum of one-half inch. For a proper harvest, loosen the soil surrounding the root carefully. Pull them but be gentle when doing so to prevent breakage.
If what you decided to grow is a spring crop that you intend to get harvested for the summer, monitor your plants. The reason is that the extremely high temperatures may only result in them bolting.
For a planned fall harvest, your carrots may need some light frosts to improve their sweet taste.
Common Carrot Plant Diseases and Pests to Watch Out For
Part of caring for your carrot is constantly monitoring its health. Among the things you should watch out for are pests and diseases that may infest the plant, including the following:
Carrot Rust Fly
This is the biggest and most harmful pest that may affect your carrot . The pest tends to lay eggs in the soil close to the top of the carrot. Upon hatching, expect the larvae to penetrate deep down, thereby affecting the roots.
Once there, the carrot rust fly may feed through the roots and produce tunnels in there. To deal with this pest, rotate the area where you plant your carrots every year. Another alternative is growing your carrots beneath a row cover – one example of which is a garden fabric.
Aphids, Flea Beetles, and Leafhoppers
These insects may munch on the leaves of your carrots, causing them to be misshapen and get deformed. You can deal with them by getting your garden hose to spray them with a strong surge of water. If the infestation is severe, use neem oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of them.
Nematodes are microscopic worms that may create problems in the future as they can cause the roots to be badly deformed. The good news is that there are ways to kill them and get rid of them – one of which is solarization, which involves soil heating.
If the nematodes affect a specific spot, rotating to a new crop and planting the carrots somewhere else can help.
Aster Yellow Disease
This common carrot disease can trigger discolored and shortened tops as well as hairy roots. The problem with this disease is that it tends to spread as pests feed from one plant to another.
To prevent this disease, make sure to manage and get rid of weeds. It also helps to create a control plan that can help you manage and prevent pests, like leafhoppers. Also, be on the lookout for this disease as it is capable of overwintering.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do carrots take to grow?
It takes around 75 to 80 days for your carrots to grow and become ready for harvest. The length of time will differ based on your chosen carrot variety, though. Some varieties even allow you to enjoy harvested carrots in between 50 to 75 days.
How do you grow carrots successfully?
Just like other plants, carrots have specific needs. The most basic requirements that will increase their chance of growing successfully are adequate water, cool weather, and loose and well-drained soil. By meeting such needs, you have a higher chance of growing crunchy and sweet carrots.
What month do you grow carrots?
The best month to grow carrots varies based on your location and your preferred time of harvest. Typically, though, most gardeners plant seeds from September to October, resulting in a winter harvest.
A lot of Southern states can only grow carrots at that time as the summer is too hot for such crops. Note, though, that some states that are part of the West-coast region can plant and harvest carrots later in the year.
How do you grow carrots from seeds?
You can grow carrots from seed by planting seedlings grown in the nursery. The most common technique is directly sowing the seed to your garden. Start the process right after noticing the workability of the soil during the spring season.
Also, take note that the germination process may take around 10 to 21 days. You may also have to wait around 50 to 75 days before the planted seeds become ready for harvest.
Is pruning necessary?
Pruning carrot is necessary for preventing the roots from being deformed. To do this, ensure that the area is free of weeds while the carrot is still in its growing phase. In case thinning is necessary again in the future, you may want to use the small carrots in your salads.
Once you have completed the thinning process, you can expect your carrots to have far enough space once again. That said, you have an assurance that they will not rub each other once they mature, leading to undisturbed growth.
You will never really regret growing carrots in your home or garden. It is a wise move as it can give you easy access to freshly harvested carrots whenever you need them plus you have an assurance that they taste good.