Growing carrots is something to add to your bucket list.
There’s nothing like pulling a homegrown carrot from the earth, rinsing it with a hose, and eating it in the garden. Nothing beats the flavor of a freshly-picked carrot. Grocery store carrots can’t compare. Here are five tips for growing carrots.
1. Growing carrots from seed means more variety!
Seed vendors offer carrot colors such as purple, white, red, yellow and of course orange. Home gardeners can also choose from many shapes and sizes. Nantes varieties are sweet, crisp, full-flavored, and easy for the home gardener to grow. Imperator varieties have less flavor, but store well. (This is the variety commonly found in grocery stores.) Chantenay varieties are good all-purpose carrots that can handle heavy soils.
2.Take advantage of the long planting season for growing carrots.
Carrots can be planted from August through April where I live in zone 9b. Check local planting guides for when you can plant. Choose an area with sandy well-drained soil that is free from stones and fresh manure. Rake and smooth the bed carefully before planting. Thinly sow seeds ¼ – ½ inch deep. Plant carrots every 3 weeks for a continual harvest.
3. Carrots need consistent moisture to sprout and grow.
After planting, soil must be kept moist for 10 days. Spray lightly twice a day in very sunny weather. Seeds will not germinate if they dry out. Once seeds have sprouted, regular watering helps them grow quickly and continuously. Watch the video below for a quick tip for germinating carrot seeds.
4. Be sure to thin seedlings.
2 weeks after the plants germinate, thin any carrots that touch each other. Use scissors to cut off plants to be thinned rather than pulling them by hand. In another 2 weeks, thin carrots to 2 or 3 inches apart. Thinning the carrots ensures each carrot has enough room to reach mature size.
5. Make the most of your harvest.
Leave carrots in the ground until ready to eat, but harvest carrots before the heat of the summer if you live in very hot places like Arizona. (The heat can turn them bitter.) A tip to remember — the shorter variety carrots are best eaten fresh, while longer carrots are more suited to storing. Carrots store best if you clip the foliage, leaving about 1 inch of stem. When you are ready to use them, scrub but don’t peel! Most of the vitamins are in the skin or close to the surface.