How to Grow Carrots

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Learn how to grow carrots with this helpful guide. Sweet, delicate carrots that can’t be found in supermarkets are among a home gardener’s greatest culinary rewards. By growing varieties suited to your soil, you can grow carrots in spring and fall, and the fall carrots can be left in the ground for harvesting in early winter. Includes tips on saving seeds for your next harvest, and pest and disease prevention tips.

Types of Carrots to Try

Nantes are fast and easy to grow, and adapt to a range of climates and soils.
Chantenay carrots develop stocky roots that become sweeter as the soil cools in the fall.
Miniature carrots have small, shallow roots that are often quite sweet. They’re good for heavy clay soil.
Imperator carrots are long and need deep, sandy soil to thrive.
Danvers carrots make great juice, and the sturdy roots store well, too.

For more details, see our chart with descriptions of each type, cultural tips and varieties.

When to Plant Carrots

In the spring, sow carrot seeds in fertile, well-worked soil about two weeks before your last frost date. In cool climates, continue planting every three weeks until midsummer.

In summer, begin sowing seeds for fall and winter carrots 10 to 12 weeks before your average first fall frost. (To find your frost dates, click here and search for “frost dates.”) Many gardeners plant carrots after their spring peas are finished.

How to Grow Carrots

Prepare the planting bed by loosening the soil to at least 12 inches deep. Thoroughly mix in a 1-inch layer of mature compost or a half-inch layer of vermicompost (carrots love what earthworms leave behind).

Sow your seeds about a quarter inch deep and 2 inches apart, in rows spaced at least 10 inches apart; carrots do well in double or triple rows. Thin seedlings to 4 to 6 inches apart, depending on the variety’s mature size.

Harvesting and Storage Carrots

Pull or dig spring-sown carrots when roots reach mature size and show rich color. Taste improves as carrots mature, but do not leave mature carrots in warm soil any longer than necessary (many critters like carrots). Summer-sown carrots that mature in cool fall soil can be left in the ground longer, but should be dug before the ground freezes to preserve their quality. Remove tops to prevent moisture loss, rinse clean, and store in a refrigerator or cold root cellar. Most varieties keep for several months in the fridge. Carrots also may be canned, pickled, dried or frozen.

Saving Carrot Seeds

Carrots are biennial and therefore won’t flower and make seed until their second year. In cold climates, open-pollinated carrots kept in cold storage through winter can be replanted in early spring for seed production purposes. When the seed clusters have ripened to brown, collect them in a paper bag. Then allow them to dry for another week indoors before crushing the clusters and gathering the seeds. Discard the smallest seeds. Store the largest seeds in a cool, dry place for up to three years.

Source: Mother Earth News

 

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