Carrots are one of those vegetables that gardeners often fail with. There are a few simple things to understand about this crop and once you deal with those, carrots are no more difficult to grow than any other vegetable.
So what’s the secret?
The real secret to growing great carrots is to double-dig the garden soil. A deep, well composted soil will grow a terrific carrot. Raised garden beds will also grow great carrots if you take the time to make super soil in those beds.
When to Plant
Sow every week from the last frost date in your area until mid-summer to avoid the bad weather that is sure to knock out some of your crop.
Where to Plant
In full sun in your best soils. The more organic matter, the better.
How to Plant
Sow carrot seed very thinly in the row. Some gardeners mix radish seed into the carrot seed so they’ll tell where the row is.
Soil temperatures should be at least 15-16C before sowing carrot seed and seed should be sown so there are 3 to 4 seeds per 2-3 cm of row. Rows should be 40-45 cm apart.
Sow by laying the seed on the surface and then covering the seed very lightly with .6 cm of soil. Tamp the row down gently to make sure the seed is in contact with the ground. If you bury this seed deeply, you’ll never see carrots. Water with a fine nozzle to soak the ground and keep damp until germination.
Care & Maintenance
If you overfeed them, you’ll likely get roots with a LOT of small feeder roots. (Remember the feeding rules with root crops!) It looks like the carrot has grown a head of hair. And cracked carrots are caused by too much water at harvest time or allowing the carrot to get too old before harvesting.
Most of the problems are in the soil. If you compact the soil around the neck of the carrot (walking in the row too close to the carrot will quickly do this) then your carrot is likely going to “fork” or grow extra roots. If your soil is compacted, then you’ll wind up with stunted or misshapen carrots. Carrots do not like having to drive themselves down into the soil – think of them as lazy vegetables. If the soil is right, they’ll grow long and straight. If not, you get terrible looking crops.
Sudden weather changes, late frosts or cold seasons will cause really rough looking carrots. If you let them dry out or give them way too much water, you’ll find they’ll look ugly.
If you have a clayish soil, do not let the soil crust over or the carrot seedlings won’t be able to penetrate the crust.
If you see “green shoulders” on some carrots, it is a good idea to very gently hoe up some soil around the shoulders to prevent or reduce this.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm