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Carrots are some of the most easy-to-grow and rewarding vegetables that you can grow in your yard or balcony or any raised-bed vegetable garden. They are particularly friendly to first-time gardeners who would like something to test the waters with. Carrots are quite low maintenance and a highly rewarding vegetable grow. If you are looking to learn how to grow carrots the easy way, this article tells you everything you need to know.
Benefits Of Growing Carrots
Here are some reasons why you should choose to grow carrots:
1. They Can Be Grown in All Zones
Carrots can be grown in many different types of climates if the timing is chosen correctly. If they are planted around 40 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, they thrive well and give great-tasting produce. In fact, the light frost in colder climates makes them even sweeter!
2. They Can Be Harvested at All Sizes
You need not wait for the carrots you plant to reach their full mature size before harvesting. Carrots that are harvested when they are tender also taste sweet. You could also wait for a full four months for them to mature fully and reach their final size.
3. They are Easy To Grow
Although they take a little while to germinate, carrots are very easy to grow for first-timers as they are low maintenance. You can plant them for a period of three weeks continuously to get a steady harvest.
4. They Can Be Grown Anywhere
Whether you are growing it on your farm, in your yard, or a planter on your balcony, carrots are easy to grow and give great results.
5. They are Healthy
Carrots are packed with nutrition. They can be eaten raw or cooked with several dishes.
6. There are Lots of Varieties to Choose From
There are over a dozen popular varieties of carrots that can be grown easily in the garden. They come with their own set of qualities such as taste, color, and size.
Varieties Of Carrots
Although the local supermarkets only stock the most commercially produced varieties, carrots come in different colors and types. Here are some varieties you can grow in your garden:
The type frequently seen in supermarkets, imperators are sweeter than other varieties due to their high sugar content. Imperators also have lush foliage that grows faster compared to others. Imperators are also similar to the Danvers and are orange in color.
This carrot variety derives its name from the place of origin- Danvers, Massachusetts. Danvers is long and skinny and is typically orange in color, but they can also be found in other colors. They grow well in most types of soils, including clay soil.
Nantes are popular for their shape. Unlike the imperator varieties, they are not tapered; instead, they are uniformly cylindrical throughout their length. These carrots are named after the region in France where they are grown. It is a low-maintenance plant to grow and gives a crunchy sweet taste.
Farmers choose Chantenays for their resilience. They do well in less-than-ideal soil conditions and are quite low maintenance. The carrots grow to about 6 to 7 inches in length and need to be harvested soon after maturity, beyond which they lose their taste.
5. Mini Carrots
If you are looking for a carrot variety ideal for your patio planters, these are perfect for your cause. The mini carrots are much smaller than all other varieties and sweeter as well.
Easy Ways To Plant Carrots
Carrots are one of the simplest plants to grow because of their low maintenance and the ease with which they can be grown. Here are the steps to follow to grow them successfully:
1. Preparing the Planting Bed
Whether you choose to grow on a raised bed or a container, preparing the soil remains the same. What you will need is a planting mix from the gardening store to grow your carrots. At this point, the question of how deep do carrots grow would pop up in your mind. Since they can grow up to 6 inches long or more, ensure your bed is at least 12 inches deep. Sprinkle some bone meal into the soil as it is high in phosphorous. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers or compost as they promote foliage growth and not the roots.
2. Sowing the Seeds
Carrot seeds are tiny, and each seed produces only one carrot. Therefore be cautious when you plant carrot seeds as it is easy to add too many seeds into the soil mistakenly. You can either mix the seeds into a handful of soil and sprinkle it all around or push individual seeds into the soil with your finger.
3. Protect the Seeds
Freshly sowed seeds must be protected from erosion by covering the bed with floating row covers for a few days until you start seeing the sprout. The covers also protect it from the cold.
4. Watering and Weeding
Soon after planting the seeds, water them through a fine spray. Continue spraying regularly, and do not let the moisture in the soil dry out. Once the roots begin to grown, water more often remove weeds by hand as they compete for water and nutrients.
5. Spread Out the Seedlings
If you find that the seedlings are too closely spaced, gently lift them out of the soil and spread them out with at least 1 inch of space in between.
How Long Does it Take For Carrots to Grow
Depending on the variety of carrots you have bought, they will be ready for harvest in about two to three months from the time they are planted. One of the first signs that they are ready for harvest is their tops protruding through the soil.
When Should You Plant Carrots
If you wonder how early can I plant carrots like many other gardeners, keep in mind that it should be done considering when you need the harvest. Here are some tips:
- To harvest your carrots in summer, sow the seeds in your garden about 3 to 5 weeks before the last date of frost in spring.
- To harvest continuously throughout summer, plant a new round of seeds every three weeks throughout the last part of spring.
- To harvest your crop in the fall, start sowing the seeds in the middle or towards the end of summer. Your seed sowing dates should be around 10 weeks before the first frost of the fall.
Caring Tips For Carrots
Keep these tips in mind to care for your carrots:
1. Proper Sunlight
Carrots need plenty of sunlight to grow and mature, although they are mostly underground. Ensure they are planted in a place that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
2. Soil Type
Carrots thrive well in loose, well-drained soils. Excess stones and rocks in the soil will cause the carrots to deform or split. They can also be cultivated in raised beds with soft soil. The pH of the soil needs to be in the range of 6.0 to 6.8.
Carrots need plenty of water to grow. Water them by filling up the soil and becoming slightly dry before the next watering sessions.
4. Temperature and Humidity
Carrots are quite resilient and can be grown in all zones across the country. The ideal temperature to grow them ranges between 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer climates, they are often planted as fall or winter crops.
Adding a bit of organic matter such as compost and manure is enough to grow them. Once the carrot tops start showing, any low-nitrogen and high-phosphorus vegetable fertilizer can support the root growth.
How And When To Harvest Carrots
Carrot harvesting procedure:
- Carrots can be harvested whenever they reach your desired maturity and size. The smaller they are, the better they taste.
- When growing carrots in hot weather such as spring or earlier, harvest them when they are ready before the daytime temperature starts getting hot. Otherwise, the carrots start becoming fibrous.
- Frost encourages the plants to store more energy in the form of sugars. Therefore harvesting after one or two frosts will make them sweeter.
- After the first hard frost, cover them with an 18-inch layer of shredded leaves and dry grass to preserve carrots.
Common Pests and Diseases That Affects Carrots
Like all plants, carrots are affected by a range of pests and diseases. Here are a few:
1. Carrot Rust Flies
Carrot rust flies lay eggs around the top of the carrot in the surrounding soil. The larva of the flies hatches and eats into the carrots leaving behind rust-colored tunnels in the root.
Cold weather and damp conditions promote the growth of fungus. Seedlings often fail because of some of the fungi that attack the roots.
3. Black Root Rot
Black root rot is a fungal attack on the carrots when they are stored. It is triggered by high temperature, humidity, and the symptoms start to show in dark brown patches on the skin.
4. Bacterial Leaf Blight
Bacterial leaf blight affects the leaves of carrot plants. They appear as yellow spots that turn black and brittle. The disease is transmitted through insects and irrigation water.
Wireworms are active all year round and attack the roots, stem, and leaves of the plant. They eat through the roots without leaving behind a distinct cavity, unlike slugs.
6. Flea Beetle
Flea beetles concern seedlings and small plants as they leave behind holes in the leaves that affect plant growth. They are more active during spring and summer.
Slugs are mollusks that resemble snails without a shell. They eat the seedlings and even kill them completely. Slug infestation can be seen in the form of slimy trails left behind.
8. White Mold
White mold is a fungus attack that affects the plants while growing and also in storage. The surface of affected carrots becomes soft and fluffy with a white mycelia growth.
Here are some carrots growing FAQs:
1. Is It Possible To Grow Carrots from Carrot Tops?
The carrot tops- the plant on the top can be planted and grown to make pretty house plants. However, it’s important to remember that the carrot, a taproot, cannot be re-grown once removed from the plant. Growing carrot tops is often confused with growing carrots. They are not the same.
2. How Much Sunlight Is Needed for Growing Carrot?
Carrot plants love sunlight and need plenty of it to grow. While they can also tolerate some shade during the day, they need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
3. How Many Carrots Can Be Obtained From One Seed?
One seed will only produce one carrot. Therefore count your seeds before your plant them, especially when growing them in small planters.
Carrots are versatile vegetables that can be grown in all types of climates. They are simple and easy to grow and require very little maintenance. Carrots give a good yield and are a fantastic vegetable variety for first-time gardeners.