Growing Carrots

500x333 Growing carrots: carnival blend heirloom carrots

One of the biggest rewards of growing carrots yourself is being able to choose varieties that have intense carrot flavor, special sweetness, or interesting shapes or colors. Carrots are one of the most popular root vegetables - they are delicious when little, and get even tastier as they grow. Many people intentionally plant carrot seeds too close together so they can harvest and eat the thinnings.

The most common problem people encounter in growing carrots seems to be poor germination. I get a lot of questions about this. Usually the problem isn't actually poor germination itself (as in, “bad seed”), but rather that seeds start to germinate, and then dry out and die before they break the surface.

Sprouting seeds can also die if the soil is too hard to push though, or if they get watered with too much force and become exposed on the surface.

Watering with soaker hoses, fine-spray sprinkers or a fine mist by hand are all better during germination than heavy overhead watering.

Soil Preparation

Let’s back up a bit and talk about soil in general. Carrots, having such long, straight taproots, need to be planted in a fine seedbed that is very loose, friable and stone-free down at least a foot (two is better). 

Read more about growing carrots:

Growing Carrots:
The Bare Facts

Start Indoors: carrots don’t transplant well. Direct-seed in ground 2-3 weeks before last frost.

Plant Seeds: ¼” deep (or on surface, covered with 1/4" fine compost), 3” apart (or closer, then thin).  

Transplant: don’t. Direct seed instead.

Thin: to 2” apart when 2” tall, to 3” apart when 3” tall. Crowding causes forking.

Days to Maturity: 70-80 days to harvest

Type of soil: deep, loose, stone-free

Nutrition: a LOT of compost, a teeny bit of phosphorus and potassium, no added nitrogen

Harvest: loosen gently with fork near row, pull carrots gently. Harvest on time or roots will crack

Special Info: choose shorter, stumpier varieties if you have stony or clay soil 

  • Planting Carrots
    Covers planting times, depth and spacing, and techniques to maximize use of space. Planting carrots differs depending on whether you grow in rows or beds.

  • Harvesting Carrots
    Carrots must be harvested correctly in order to store well. Learn when to harvest, and how to harvest them without damage.

  • Storing Carrots
    It doesn't help to grow a great crop of carrots if you lose them all through improper storage. Learn how to prep carrots for long-term storage, and several different ways to keep your carrots edible for several months (or years!).

  • Carrot Diseases and Pests
    The most common carrot diseases and pests, and how to prevent them in the organic vegetable garden.

And one of the most fascinating websites you'll ever find devoted to only one vegetable is the World Carrot Museum, a labor of love by a devoted Englishman named John, and a tremendous resource of carrot lore. 

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