Planning to start growing crops in your garden? Well, chances are you may have thought about planting carrots, the loveable orange vegetable which is a staple to diets everywhere. Thankfully, carrots are an easy crop to grow and are a perfect addition to any garden vegetable patch.
In this article, we will break down the best time to plant carrots, how to care for your carrots, and how to make sure you are growing your carrots correctly. So grab your shovels, trowels and watering cans and get ready to grow some carrots.
When to Sow your Seeds
Carrots are best planted during the season of Spring, but seeds can be sown anytime between early spring and August, although it is better to sow outdoor carrots in between the months of April and July for the best results.
Carrots aren’t best suited to high temperatures, so it’s not recommended that you plant them in a greenhouse during summer. If you do have to use a greenhouse however, our guide may help you with adequate setup.
If you are planting outside during the earlier months of the season, it is highly recommended that you use a cloche to keep your carrots at the right temperature.
How to Sow Carrot Seeds
Carrots can be prone to a pest known as carrot flies, which are attracted to the roots of the plant. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent this, but planting carrots during the earlier months of the season can help avoid the first wave of fruit flies.
Soil is also a significant factor affecting the yield and growth of your carrots, as they require lighter, fertile soil that has great drainage. Its also essential that they are planted around 2cm apart and 2cm deep, in small rows to get the best results, preferably in a spot that will soak in a lot of sunlight. If you want to go the extra mile, prepare your patch earlier by adding manure pre-emptively as carrots don’t thrive as well in freshly manured soil.
Carrots can be paired with a multitude of other plants, which you can read in our guide here.
Growing your Carrots
Carrots don’t require as much maintenance as other crops, but it is best to keep your carrots lightly watered. Carrots need soft soil and a crust on the top layer can prevent germination and growth, which water or fine compost can prevent.
After around 3 weeks, you will start to notice stems, and these can require thinning if there is excess foliage blocking out sunlight. It is important these are pulled lightly.
This is to prevent disturbance to the root, but also to prevent carrot flies. Crushing the leaves can attract the dreaded pest, so it’s important to thin them on a windy day and remove the leaves far from your crops.
When is the Best Time to Harvest Carrots?
After 12 – 16 weeks from when you initially planted your carrots, you will notice the stems have grown significantly. It’s around this time that you will want to harvest, picking them before the temperature increases. Be careful teasing them out, or use a fork to lift them out if you are struggling with heavy soil.
The larger carrots get the more flavors will start to diminish, so make sure you are picking them when they are around the size of your index finger (about 1.5 inches in diameter). If you have carrots that aren’t worth harvesting, you can leave them be and they will drop seeds for next year.
How to Store Carrots
Once you’ve harvested carrots it’s unlikely that you will eat them all in one sitting, so you will need to store them correctly.
Start by giving them a good clean, using cold water to rub off any dirt or soil. Then cut off around half an inch from the top and seal them away in an airtight container.
The Best Carrot Options
There are a plethora of carrot varieties to choose from, some of which will grow differently and have certain resistances, so make sure to pick the type that is best suited for your garden.
The Imperator varieties of carrots are an excellent choice for those who want a carrot that packs good flavor, is easy to grow, and looks like a normal carrot.
Flyaway F1 Carrots
If you are worried about or struggle with carrot flies, then the flyaway carrot and its round, cylindrical body can be your best bet. It’s bred to be resistant to the pest and isn’t difficult to grow.
Parisian Heirloom Carrots
Those who are looking to plant in rocky soil or in small containers will find a lot of good in planting these carrots. Small and round, they are perfect for compact gardens or indoor farmers.
Carrots are fantastic in any garden and deserve a place in the patch of any budding gardener, thanks to their easy maintenance and accessibility. A simple bit of care and good timing can yield you a nice, homegrown vegetable for your meals throughout summer.