How To Grow Carrots
Scientific Name: Dacus carota
Light: Full Sun (6+hrs)
Soil Type: Fast draining, rich, loose, deep sandy loam
Soil Temperature: 40°+
ph Range: 5.5 – 7.0
Watering: Constantly moist
Plant (Payson): March – May
Planting Method: Seed
Germination (days): 14 – 21
Transplant: Not applicable
Maturity (days): 65 – 85
Common Pests: Carrot Rust Flies, Soft Rot, Root maggots
Common Diseases: Aster yellows
Why grow carrots? They are nutritional powerhouses; they are rich in beta carotene (Vitamin A), manganese, chromium, niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and C, and dietary fiber. If you have ever tasted a home-grown carrot you will know why gardeners grow them.
Carrots are hardy biennials—meaning they do not bloom until their second year. There are numerous ways you can grow the short varieties of carrots in container gardens. But if growing the longer varieties, you will want to grow them in an open garden. As for climate, carrots produce larger yields in cooler areas, but given the large number of varieties available they can be grown in almost any temperature zone. To grow carrots you will need a sandy loamy soil with a sun exposure of six plus hours for optimum growth.
Carrots prefer sun so choose a sunny area of your garden to sow your carrot seeds. If you are going for longer carrot roots you will need deep sandy compost enriched soil to give them adequate room to grow.
Carrot roots grow deep, smooth, and without blemishes in sandy or loamy garden soils. Carrots will grow well in a wide pH (5.5 to 7.0) range. Good water drainage is important when growing carrots. If your soil is dense and clay-like you may want to add sand to ensure proper drainage.
Carrot seeds can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. Sow the carrot seeds directly in the soil, in the spring as soon as you’re able to work the garden soil. You can start your first crop after the threat of frost has passed.
Prepare furrows 10” apart and sow seeds ¼” deep. Cover and water lightly. Continue to water lightly daily until the seedlings emerge. When the seedlings grow to 2” high, thin to 1 inch apart. When the seedlings grow to 6” tall, thin out again to 2” apart. For an extended harvest make successive plantings every 2 weeks.
Hint: Combine carrot and radish seeds and plant them together in the furrows. By doing this you may be able to eliminate having to thin your seedlings. Why this works: radishes germinate and mature in much shorter time frame than carrots–by the time your radishes have been harvested the carrots seedlings will be taking over the furrow.
Mulch to help deter weeds which will compete with the carrots for space and nutrients.
During the first 8 weeks of the growing season, water lightly—this will encourage the roots to grow deeper. Water heavily only if soil dries out as the crop matures–too much water makes the roots crack.
Do not over fertilize when growing carrots. Garden beds that were amended with well-decomposed manure the previous gardening season work the best. Carrots are high potassium feeders and will need an additional boost. However, go easy on fertilizers with a high level of nitrogen. You will get lots of extra leaves, smaller carrots and discolored roots. Check with your local nursery for the best organic options.
Keep your carrot plants weed free, but be careful to not disturb the carrot’s roots when weeding—disturbing the roots can cause the carrots to be misshappened.
Prevention is the first line of defense. For insect-borne diseases or insect pests growing your carrots under cover will prevent insects from laying eggs or eating your carrots. For fungus and bacteria caused diseases, removing the affected plants and rotating your crops and good garden hygiene are your bet choices.
Depending on the variety carrots take approximately four months to grow from seed to a size that can be harvested. Once they reach the desired size, you can harvest anytime that you want. You can check for size by gently removing dirt from the top of the carrot. If you are in a climate with mild winters like we have in Payson you can over winter carrots by leaving them in the ground and harvest as needed. Carrots harvested in cooler months are sweeter tasting. (Word of advice: harvest carrots when the soil is moist to prevent breakage.)
Carrots may be stored in a cool cellar between layers of sand for later use. Carrots may be canned, frozen or dehydrated for later use.
To aid in your gardening success, here are some useful, trusted links for more information on tomatoes. Please remember Payson Community Garden is an organic garden. Some of these sites may contain recommendations for non-organic products. Please see this website or Plant Fair Nursery website for a list of recommended products that meet the organic standards of Payson Community Garden.