Carrots are among the most popular garden plants. They are not only delicious, but also easy to grow. Even the most beginner gardeners know how to grow carrots, either in the garden or indoor containers. Once you get a steady supply of carrots, you can use them to make stews, soup, stir-fries, cake, juices, garnishes, and side dishes. You can even just boil or roast them with garlic, butter, or herbs.
Growing carrots is easy because they are pest-resistant, resilient, and have high tolerance toward frost. This handy guide will help you growing carrots at home.
Table of Contents
1. Common Types of Carrots
Carrots have tons of varieties, and not all of them are orange. There are others that have red, yellow, and even purple colors. Some are long and thin, while others are shorter, stouter, or thicker. Here are several common types of carrots you can consider for your garden:
- Scarlet Nantes
Scarlet Nantes is the most popular carrot variety, with straight, medium-sized body. This carrot has bright orange color and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. You can eat it fresh or cooked.
- Bolero Nantes
Bolero Nantes is a carrot type that yields abundant harvest results. This carrot is resilient, especially toward Powdery Mildew and Alternaria Blight.
- Cosmic Purple
Cosmic Purple is actually a type of Nantes, but it has bright purple color. The inside of this carrot is still orange.
Babette is a “baby carrot” variety, which means that it is grown to be harvested when still small.
Chantenay carrots were popular among home gardeners before the coming of Nantes. Chantenay carrots are stouter and more tapered than Nantes. They are sturdy and can grow on rocky or even clay soil.
Imperator carrots are heavily tapered and curved, with thin bodies. They grow on light sandy soil, but the shorter ones can grow on rocky soil. An Imperator type called Atomic Red retains the redness even when cooked.
These carrots are not the only types, but you can start your research from here before buying the seeds you want.
2. Preparations for Planting Carrots
Planting carrots require good preparations, such as in soil and timing. Here are several preparations you must do before planting the seeds:
- Determine the best planting season
Carrots grow in two to four months after planting, and they love bright light. Therefore, prepare your soil to plant at the last spring frost or early summer.
- Remove soil obstructions
There are carrots that can grow on rocky soil, but too many obstructions can cause ugly or twisted shapes. You should remove all the large stones and rocks. Don’t forget to tilt the soil deeply to give the carrots enough room for growing.
- Water soil
Your carrots need well-watered soil before planting. Make sure to water the tilted soil deeply right before planting.
- Prepare organic fertilizer
You should add a thin layer of organic fertilizer between every hole. However, you don’t need to add manure or rotten compost on the soil before planting. It will cause the carrots to develop side roots.
The ideal depth and distance of seed holes are ¼ inch deep and one inch away between each hole. Check if the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.8.
3. How to Plant Carrots
Carrot seeds are easy to get from any gardening supply stores. You can plant four in one hole. Once you prepare the soil, you can plant the seeds in these steps:
- Put seeds in holes properly
When putting seeds in a hole, make sure you bury them with moist, tilted soil. Cover the hole, but don’t tap them too firmly. The seeds must be “justly buried”, so they can grow more easily through the soil.
- Give organic fertilizer
Aged manure is not recommended for newly-planted carrots, but you can dig soil every three meters of row and out ½ cup of organic fertilizer.
- Mulch the plants
Regular mulching is important to keep the weed out of your carrots. Mulch is also important to prevent “baked roots” from direct sunlight.
When you see carrots grow out of the soil, create a slightly higher mound for them. This is because carrots grow upward, and low soil can cause green shoulders.
4. Caring for Carrot Plants
Carrot plant needs regular watering, mulching, and weeding to grow healthily. You must also thin the carrots regularly, starting from when they are one inch tall above the soil. Thinning is important to prevent the plants from competing for nutrition. Use scissors to do it neatly.
Water the carrot regularly once a week. Ideally, carrots need one inch of watering per week, and a little bit more if the soil is rocky (or if you live in a hot region). Don’t let the soil get cracked before watering. Use balanced fertilizer every five weeks to keep them healthy.
5. Harvesting the Carrots
Harvesting carrots depends on the varieties and the sizes you want. You can harvest carrots two to four months after the first planting, but you can harvest earlier for “baby carrots”. You can also look at the size; a medium-sized carrot with ½ inch of diameter is usually ready for harvest. Some types of carrots become hard and woody when they are too old, so harvesting early is better.
The best time to harvest carrots is in the morning, before the soil becomes too hot. If you live in a four-season country, try harvesting carrots after several touches of frost. The carrots are sweeter this way because they store energy in the form of sugar. To prevent damages, cover your carrots with shredded leaves (around 18 inches thick) after the first frost.
Once you harvest carrots, cut the tops immediately and scrap all the dirt. Dry them naturally and put them in airtight container or bag before putting them in the fridge. This way, your carrots will stay fresh longer and not wilting too fast. Many people in countries with cold winter store freshly harvested carrots in a large, closed tub full of moist sand.
Planting carrot is an easy task that everyone can do. Knowing how to grow carrots will give you fresh vegetables for all seasons. You can even save money by cutting carrots from your grocery shopping list.