How to grow Carrots

 

Abigal Gordon's Home Grown Carrots

 


 

 

Planting Carrots

Fertilizer and Soil

Common Varieties

Carrot Pests and Disease

Harvest and Storage

Carrot Recipes

Additional References

 

 

The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields

Carrots, a hardy crop that can be planted in the garden in early spring. Carrots require larger amounts of moisture than other popular garden vegetables, they are not tolerant of drought. Prolonged hot weather in their later stages will retard growth and generally result in an undesirable strong flavor as well as a coarse undesirable fibrous texture At the other extreme, prolonged temperatures below 50 degrees F tend to make the roots longer, more slender and paler in color than expected. The best temperature for highest quality roots is between 60 and 70 degrees F.

Planting Carrots

Direct seed carrots into a well-prepared soil early in the spring. Suggested planting depth is 1/4 inch deep in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches or more apart depending on the method of cultivation used. It is important to avoid crusting of the soil around the seed-bed. Covering the seed with vermiculite or fine compost and keeping the soil evenly moist until the seedlings have emerged will help prevent this problem.




 

The soil should be worked enough to remove any physical obstruction to root development

When the carrots have sprouted, thin them out so the plants are approximately 3-4 inches apart to avoid overcrowding. . When the tops of the carrots grow thicker, thin them to about two to three inches apart. Some seed companies are now offering pelletized seed, making the seeds easier to plant and thin.

 

 

 
After plants are established, mulches will help conserve moisture and prevent excessive weed growth. Cultivation, if necessary, should be shallow in order to avoid root injury. Carrots require an evenly-distributed and plentiful soil moisture supply throughout the growing season. However, avoid too much moisture towards the end of the season as this will cause roots to crack.
 

Watch for the appearance of orange crowns at the soil level as the plants mature. If this occurs, mulch with soil or compost as the sunlight will turn them green. Carrots that are exposed to the sun turn green and bitter-tasting. To keep them orange and sweet, make sure the roots stay completely covered with soil.

Like most vegetables, carrots need at least 1 inch of water weekly during the growing season. Always soak the soil thoroughly when watering. this helps to promote good root development, but not excessively ,so as to avoid rot. Inexpensive Water timer systems are available.

To prolong the harvest, you can make succession plantings every two weeks until the temperature hits about 80F, then, when temperatures cool in autumn, plant another crop for winter harvesting.

 
Good garden companions when planting carrots are Peas, lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage, tomatoes, Bush beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, peppers, red radishes. Sage planted with carrots will enhance the carrots growth.  Avoid planting carrots in proximity of Pole beans, strawberries, and especially Dill as it stunts their growth.
 
See: Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

 

 

Fertilizer and Soil

Carrot plants thrive in deep, loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Avoid stony, cloddy or trash-laden soils as they increase the incidence of root defects. Because raised-beds usually have loose soil and receive little compaction from foot traffic, they are an ideal location to grow carrots. Carrots grown on heavy soils may produce considerable leaf growth and forked roots.

Be certain to track the soil pH    5.5 - 7.5 is best for carrots

Carrots need lots of potassium. Boost your soil's supply by sprinkling wood ashes over the planting area before you sow the seeds.
 

Avoid manure and other fertilizers high in nitrogen; they'll encourage top growth at the expense of good root development. If your carrots turn out with a branch or two, it means they're getting too much nitrogen.

Root crops- such as onions, beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips- need the support of soil that's rich in potassium and phosphorus. Root Crops Alive! is packed with these essential nutrients in the right balance needed by root crops. Unlike greensand-based fertilizers, the potassium in Root Crops Alive! is plant-based, so root crops benefit immediately. [From Gardens Alive! ]
 

See: The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields

 

Common Carrot Varieties

Hundreds of carrot varieties exist, There are four primary groups
Imperator ,Nantes ,Danvers ,Chantenay  {Carrot Seeds}

The following are my personal favorites, you of course may prefer to scan any of the many online nurseries and seed catalogs.

 
Traditional Varieties   Novelty Varieties
Nantes Pushing its deep orange shoulders up to the surface days and even weeks sooner than most others, Nantes is an exceptionally sweet variety just made for slicing! The 6- to 7-inch roots are firm, straight, and not tapered, with inconspicuous cores - 62 Days

Baby Little Finger Heirlooms An extra sweet, tiny Nantes type gourmet carrot only 3 1/2" long and 5/8" thick with smooth skin and small cores

Oxheart Carrot   Hardy Biennial Introduced from France prior to 1884, this broad-shouldered, robust carrot thrives in heavy soils. An excellent keeper with great taste. up to one-pound roots. Reselected and improved strain. Planting Depth: 3/8" Soil Temp. for Germ.: 50-80F Days to Germ.: 7-14 Plant Spacing: 1"-3" Days to Maturity: 65-75

Touchon Heirloom Carrot One of the finest of the Nantes-type carrots, the best for eating out of hand sweet and tender, free from hard fiber.

  White Satin Carrots A Ghostly white Carrot with Extra Crunch! Just as sweet and nutritious as its orange cousins.

Organic Yellowstone Carrot This solid yellow Danvers-type variety has broad, square shoulders, pointed tip and large tops. Carefully selected for a uniform shape. Nearly as sweet as traditional orange carrots, with a mild, pleasing flavor. Vigorous and widely adaptable. Planting Depth: 3/8' Soil Temp for Germ.: 55-75F Plant Spacing: 1-3" Days to Maturity: 70-75

Kesar Red Carrots, tasty , hardy.

 

Seed & Nursery Catalogs

 

Thompson & Morgan

Burpees

Hirts

Ferry Morse

Park Seed

DirectGardening.com

 
 
 

 

Common Pests
 

Nematodes - microscopic worms which live in the soil and feed on the host plants roots preventing the the plants from taking up the nutrients they need to grow . Some forms of nematodes are highly beneficial , while others can wreak total destruction .  Predator Nematodes are effective against destructive nematodes.

See Also: Oregon State University - Carrot Nematode

 

Aphids  Several aphid species are pests of carrots.  Most aphid damage is caused to young carrots when aphids feed on tender growing plant tissue. Carrot leaves will often become yellow and wilt and the distorted growth of roots and shoots often results  Aphids have many natural enemies such as lady beetles , green lacewing larvae, and parasitic wasps that also help to control aphids.

Worms - Wireworms, Celery worm

Carrot Rust Fly maggots damage plants by eating the small fibrous roots and by tunneling in larger roots. A rust-colored material develops in the tunnels, giving the insect its name. Affected plants may become yellow, stunted, and die. Usually the plant tops continue to look healthy. Maggots often continue to feed in stored carrots. Disease organisms may enter the feeding tunnels and cause them to rot.  Bioneem has proven effective against this pest
 

 

Carrot Weevil

The carrot Weevil adult is a dark-brown snout beetle about 6 mm long  It over winters in plant debris in and about carrot fields that were infested the previous year.

They feed on foliage, chewing out  notches, damage is usually not severe.
 

Sharpshooter Natural Insecticide Citric acid destroys the wax coating of the insect's respiratory system. When applied directly, the insect suffocates. Sharpshooter is biodegradable. Persons with known citrus allergies may be affected. Do not spray on red mature fruits.  Effective on most insects including aphids, beetles, caterpillars, cutworms, earwigs, flies, gnats, lacebugs, leafhoppers, loopers, mites, moths, snails/slugs, mosquitoes, whiteflies

Hot Pepper Wax repels bugs from your plants, fruits and flowers.  100% natural spray uses pepper extract and wax to effectively discourage pests. Helps to reduce stress on cuttings.

See Pest Control  for more extensive data





Disease

 

Alternaria leaf spot is a fungal disease caused by Alternaria dauci. It overwinters in diseased debris in the soil and it may be spread on or in contaminated seed ,or by the wind. The disease usually start on older leaf margins causing dark spots with yellow borders to develop. Spots on the leaf stems will elongate and kill the entire leaf. Infection most commonly occurs during the cooler portions of the growing season when the leaf moisture does not dissipate as quickly.
 

Safer's Defender Garden Fungicide: 500mL Concentrate  sulphur-based fungicide which controls the most common surface-infecting fungal problems such as powdery mildew, black spot, apple scab and rust. Defender actually defends the plants by covering them with a protective coating.

 

Asters yellows is caused by a bacteria that overwinters in perennial weeds and is transmitted to the plant by leafhoppers. Infected plants have yellowish dwarfed leaves that are usually arranged in a tight rosette. Older leaves often develop reddish margins and eventually break off from the rest of the plant. The disease also reduces the size and quality of the roots. The carrots are malformed and develop many hairy secondary roots. Infected roots are tough, off-flavor and lighter in color. There is no control for asters yellows once a plant becomes infected. Therefore, growers must prevent the disease by controlling leafhoppers.

 

Black Root rot of carrots ia a  post-harvest problem, although soil is the source of the pathogen. Black, irregular areas are seen on the roots. Physical injury predisposes carrots to infection, but disease can be minimized by washing soil from them, cooling them as quickly as possible to at least 45o, and by rinsing them in chlorinated water before placing them in bags.
 

Cercospora leaf spot is caused by a fungus , it affects all foliar parts of the plant but not the roots. Infection usually first occurs on young leaves in the margins. Lesions are small and round with a tan to back center and an indefinite yellow halo. Many spots on one leaf can cause withering and death. Infection of the leaf stalks results in pale centered, elliptical tan lesions. Disease development is favored under warm and humid weather.

 

Powdery Mildew - The surface of affected leaves are covered by a white mass of the fungus, which has a powdery texture. Symptoms may also be found on petioles. Treat with Garlic GP: Vegetablel Fungicide

See Also: Management of Carrot Leaf Diseases Ontario ministry of Agriculture

              Plant Pathology Carrots




Harvesting

Generally you begin harvesting carrots when they turn bright orange - 60 to 80 days after planting, depending on the variety, but they are also harvested as soon as they are at a usable size, such as baby carrots.

I prefer to wet the bed, uh ... the ground that is, with water first, making the carrots easier to pull.

 Cut the leaves off as soon as carrots are out of the ground; as long as they're attached, they'll keep growing and drawing moisture and nourishment from the roots.

Carrots destined for storage must be handled carefully during and after harvest to avoid bruising and breaking the skin.

See: Root Cellaring : Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables


Carrots can be left in the ground and covered with mulch until early-mid winter as long as they don't freeze. When kept at just above freezing, they  become sweeter and keep quite nicely until harvest. Some growers cover their carrots at the onset of winter with a cold frame to prevent the snow from piling up  on the carrots.
 

Additional References

Carrots Love Tomatoes : Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

Rodale's Garden Problem Solver : Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs

Burpee : The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically

 

Carrots - Cornell University

Carrots - Iowa State University

Carrots - University of California

Carrots - University of Minnesota

Carrots in Michigan - Michigan State University

Growing Carrots and Other Root Vegetables - University of Minnesota

 

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Hydroponics Gardening

Companion Gardening

Composting

Control Garden Pests

 

 

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