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Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to grow carrots in your own home garden!
If you want to grow Carrots, you need to make sure that the ground they are going into is rock free. Check to make sure the soil has a fairly neutral pH and low levels of nitrogen; opt instead for soil rich in potassium and phosphate.
If there are rocks, your carrot plants will find a way to fork around them and you will end up with some funky looking carrots.
Carrots like loose soil, so if you have a spot with loose soil to about a foot deep, sow Carrot seed in there. Aside from rock free soil, they are pretty easy to grow and in about 70 days you can pull up beautiful long carrots.
Aside from classic orange carrots, you can also plant other carrot varieties like yellow or purple carrots for some color variety and some subtly different flavors.
You may also consider mulching the soil and/or using some fertilizer or compost to protect from insects and nourish the carrots and retain soil moisture. Another good layer of protection is some kind of fencing or row covers, which will block deer, rabbits, and other pests like insects who will find the carrots and dig down to eat them.
You can seed them about 1/2 inch apart at a depth of around 10 inches, then thin them once the carrot roots have enough diameter to nibble on.
How to Grow Carrots
Here’s about 10 rows of Carrots that were planted last year. The thicker you can sow them, the less weeds you will get.
You can see I have planted them in a wide bed. When growing carrots, we don’t bother with single rows.
We grow carrots by planting wide beds; the bed is much faster to get seeded. We end up with more carrots doing them this way rather than to grow carrots in a single row.
Germination and Weeding of Carrots
Sowing thickly will also help keep the weeds down between rows as well as between the plants. If you want to distribute the seeds evenly, a good tip is to mix them with some fine sand.
Carrots (or any root vegetable) are a bit of a pain to weed, but well worth it as they taste so good!
They would rather grow in cool weather so they can be seeded as soon as you can work your soil in early Spring.
Remember that Carrots take awhile to germinate, so don’t worry if you cannot see a sign of germination for 10 days or so.
We sometimes seed a few Radish in the rows as well. Radish germinates quickly, so we can tell where the Carrot leaves will come up.
This is very helpful when we are trying to do early weeding.
An early harvest of Carrot thinnings and Lovage. Lovage is a wonderful herb and we have a perennial plant, so it keeps returning every year.
Each Spring, I cut lots of stems so I can dry Lovage, as well as other herbs.
By the time mid-Summer rolls around, we are able to harvest carrots fresh for our dinner table. We grow several rows so that we can keep some over Winter.
I have canned carrots before to eat over winter, but we prefer them fresh or stored in our root cellar.
How to Store Carrots for Winter Use
In the picture above, you can see how we store the Carrots. I take a bucket or a heavy plastic tote like this one down to the garden, and put a layer of soil in. This keeps the carrots fresher than storing them in a refrigerator.
Then I use my gardening pitchfork to carefully pry up soil around the carrots. Don’t try to pull them by hand unless you have very loose soil.
It is very easy to snap the greens off the top and then you are left with the root still stuck in the ground.
After getting the Carrots out of the ground, I trim the greens. Do NOT trim them right down, just leave an inch or so.
Then put a layer of Carrots into the bucket. Add another layer of soil. Then add another layer of Carrots.
Keep going until your storage bucket is full. Make sure the top layer is soil, enough to completely cover the Carrots.
Now they are ready to be stored in the Cold Room or your basement, wherever you can keep the temperature between 32 and 40F.
We do this every Fall and come January, the carrots we get from the Cold Room are just as delicious, firm and sweet as the day we harvested them in September or October.
How to Save Carrot Seed
If you grow an Heirloom type of Carrot, why not leave one or two in the ground over Winter?
The following Spring, you will see some new growth coming from the Carrot tops. Leave the Carrots alone until the Fall. You will see your Carrots start to bloom then flower.
When they are finished flowering, they will produce seeds on the top. Gather these and plant them the following year.
You won’t need to buy Carrot seed the next year – you can start planting your own.
Do this every year with a Carrot or two and you will never need to buy Carrot seed again.
So, grow carrots this year. They are a great source of Vitamin A, which you need for good eye health and most people like them.
Why not plant a row or two this year?
Some Carrot Varieties
- Nantes – cylindrical and sweet with a crisp texture
- Red Core Chantenay – sweet with a unique red color
- Royal Chantenay – a great variety for juicing
- Danvers – a classic heirloom carrot that’s suited for heavy soil and has a rich dark orange color
- Imperator – this variety keeps its sweetness and crunch in storage
- Thumbelina – also called Paris Market, this variety produces round and bite-sized carrots
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originally published 2011; latest update August 2022