Carrots have come a long ways from the wild carrot Daucus carota. Breeders have focused on developing a carrot with better flavor and color. We now have carrots in all shapes and sizes and a color range from yellows to oranges and burgundy. Most modern carrots have a very small central core, are sweet, crunchy and packed with nutrients.
Where to Grow Carrots:
Carrots love a deep, loose sandy loam with great drainage in a sunny site. They also require consistent moisture. If you have less than desirable soil conditions such as clay and shallow topsoil, you can still grow great carrots by using a raised bed system. If your soil is not free of stones, roots or clay lumps your carrots will grow crooked and twisted. Carrots are a root crop and like soil lower in nitrogen, and higher in phosphorous and potassium. If you plan to add manure to your soil, do so in the fall as it tends to cause carrots to fork. Do not grow your carrots next to dill either, they are not good garden buddies.
When to Grow Carrots:
Carrots are a cool weather crop and do not like very hot temperatures. Hot weather causes them to become woody so in hot areas grow them in the fall or spring. They can take a few frosts, actually becoming sweeter and tastier.
How to Plant Carrots:
Always direct sow your carrot seeds into your garden, starting about 3 weeks before your last frost. Plant single rows about a foot apart and space seeds about 1 inch apart. Carrots seeds are very tiny and mixing them with a bit of sand may help. Using loose, airy soil cover the seeds about 1/2 inch deep. Once planted spray with a fine mist daily to keep moist. You must also be patient as carrot seeds are slow to germinate often taking 2 weeks or more.
How to Grow Carrots:
Once your carrots have germinated and are about 2 inches tall you must thin them out to within 1/2 inch of each other. To prevent damaging the small seedlings use scissors to snip them off. You will later thin them a second time, about 3 inches apart, pulling up the crowed tiny carrots which are tasty and sweet. Keep your rows well weeded and supply a constant level of water. Carrots are quite trouble free but can be bothered by the carrot rust fly. Practicing crop rotation in your veggie patch and using floating row covers can help avoid this problem.
How to Harvest Carrots:
Gently pull your carrots up by their tops, giving a little wiggle to loosen the dirt. If they are stubborn, take a digging fork and loosen the soil along the carrot row. Cut the green stems off right away as your carrots will store better without their tops. You can store your carrots in a root cellar or in the fridge for quite a long time.
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(Photos by Pixabay)