How to Grow Carrots in your Home GardenHow to Grow Carrots in your Home Garden
Carrots are fun and easy to grow. If you take the time to prepare a bed with rich, loose soil, you’ll be rewarded with a bumper crop of carrots.
Carrots Growing Guide
Carrots do best in raised beds filled with well-draining, fertile topsoil that contains plenty of organic matter. Remove rocks and debris from past crops to clear the path for maturing carrots and prevent misshapen roots. If you have clay soil, double-dig your carrot bed to loosen and aerate the soil, and plant Nantes, Chantenay, or ball type carrots, because their shorter roots grow well even in heavier soils.
Space about 2 to 4 inches apart in rows that are 12 to 20 inches apart. When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them to 4 to 6 inches apart. Seeds can take up to 14 days to germinate, be sure to keep them moist during this period.
Carrots need consistent soil moisture from the time you plant until harvest. Seedlings stressed by low moisture grow slowly and produce lower yields. Dry soil causes carrots to develop uneven surfaces, yet too much moisture encourages small, hairy-looking roots to form. If your carrot bed happens to dry out, remoisten the soil over a period of days because sudden saturation causes carrots to split. Use organic mulch around your carrots to retain moisture.
If your soil has lots of organic matter in it, your carrots won’t need anything extra. However, sandy soils leach nutrients and dry out easily, so you should fertilize carrot seedlings monthly with fish emulsion fertilizer and retain soil moisture by surrounding the seedlings with an organic mulch.
Carrots do very well planted in an area where legumes (beans, peas) were before, because of the extra nitrogen that these plants leave behind. Carrots increase carbohydrate (sugar) storage and develop the best root color, shape, and length if grown when days are warm (59 °F to 70 °F) and nights are cool (45 °F). When storing carrots, don’t expose them to ethylene gas, which is given off by fruit such as apples and pears. Ethylene triggers a bitter taste in carrots.
White maggots or tunnels filled with brown, crumbly material are the work of carrot rust flies.
Dark, yellow-bordered spots on leaves signal fungal leaf blight. Stunted, light yellow leaves and woody roots with tufts of white side roots are signs of aster yellows.
Harvest carrots as soon as they’re big enough to eat. Hand-pull carrots to avoid damaging their roots. Extend their storage life by cutting off all but 1 inch of the leaves and stem. Store carrots in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, or layer them in a box with damp sand and store them in a cool room or root cellar.