Carrots have to be, hands down, one of the most delightful veggies to grow in the kitchen garden! While planting and waiting on carrots to mature does take some patience, they are oh so worth it!
There is nothing like harvesting fresh carrots from the soil. It is such a delight for kids and adults to pull these beautiful veggies out of the dirt, wash them off, and enjoy. Plus, the taste of homegrown carrots is much better than grocery store carrots.
Let’s explore some commonly asked questions to help you get started growing carrots the right way in your garden this season.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GROW CARROTS?
Carrots grow best in the cool season when the temperature is a high of 75 during the day. This is spring and fall in the Central Texas area—you know, the time of year you actually love being outside.
My favorite time to grow carrots is in the fall time as we head into cooler weather. Mid to late September is a great time to put out those carrot seeds. Carrots can handle frosts. In fact, cold weather actually improves their flavor.
If planting in the spring time, February and very early March are the best times to sow your carrot seeds.
WHAT KIND OF SOIL DO CARROTS NEED TO GROW IN?
Carrots need good quality soil that drains well. A great soil mix is 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 good quality compost, and 1/3 fill sand (not playground sand).
Mix in 1/2″ composted manure within the top 6″ of the soil mix. Composted cow manure, chicken manure, rabbit manure, or worm castings work great. If you’re opposed to using manures, then add compost such as leaf mold. It’s important that the soil is not heavy clay and that it doesn’t have a lot of big pieces of rock or mulch in it. The goal is to be able to easily stick your whole finger into the soil without too much resistance. Lastly, carrots do best with at least 9″ of soil depth to grow in.
HOW DO YOU PLANT CARROTS?
Carrots require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, so make sure to plant them in a nice, sunny location.
After your soil is prepared, sow the carrot seeds 1/4″ deep in rows that are 4″-6″ apart.
Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. Covering the area with a strip of burlap cloth can help lock in the moisture. Simply water over the burlap to keep your bed moist and remove the cover once the carrots have sprouted.
Plant a succession of more carrot seeds after two or three weeks to have continuous harvests.
HOW DO YOU THIN CARROTS?
You’ll most likely need to thin your carrots about two weeks after they’ve sprouted or when the greens above the ground are about 1″-2″ tall. Thin the carrots so that they’re 2″-3″ apart from each other.
The best way to do this is by using a pair of sharp scissors to cut the green tops of those carrots too close to a neighbor at soil level. Thinning your carrots allows for the remaining roots to grow properly under the soil.
HOW DO YOU WATER CARROTS?
Keep the soil moist as the carrots are germinating. Once the carrots are growing their first leafy tops, you’ll only need to water once the top 1″ of soil is dry. Water slowly and deeply to allow water to reach the bottom of the carrot roots. Drip irrigation is best, but you can also water slowly by hand.
DO CARROTS NEED TO BE FERTILIZED?
Fertilize carrots with an organic phosphorus- and potassium-rich fertilizer when the leafy green tops are about 4″ tall. Fertilizers come with three numbers to represent their N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium). The second number (P) is what we are looking for here. This number needs to be in higher ratio than N, the first number.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN CARROTS ARE READY TO HARVEST?
Depending on the variety, carrots are generally ready to harvest anywhere from 60-90 days after sowing the seeds. Most carrots are ready to harvest when the shoulder of the carrot (the part that meets the soil line) is 1/2″-1″ in diameter. A really good sign your carrots are ready to harvest is when the shoulders push themselves above ground.
To pull a carrot up, first moisten the soil and gently loosen the soil around the base of the carrot. Then grab the carrot top near the neck and gently pull up. This is the best time to include the kids, but if you want to harvest all those carrots yourself and not share, I won’t tell!
HOW DO YOU STORE CARROTS?
Wash off your carrots and cut off their leafy tops, leaving about 1″ of green stem. Let the carrots air dry in a cool place and then put them in a perforated bag in the refrigerator drawer. A Ziploc bag with a few holes poked through the sides works great to store carrots.
Need a little help with your growing space?
If you’re feeling nervous or impatient while your first batch of carrots are growing, just remind yourself how incredible it will be to pull them from the ground and enjoy your own homegrown carrots!
We’d love to help with a virtual consultation to get you ready to grow your own carrots and other favorite plants.
HAPPY CARROT GROWING!
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