One of those extremely adaptable garden crops is the carrot. This simple-to-grow crop can be made into various mouthwatering recipes and offers many health advantages. For example, beta carotene is abundant in carrots, and a serving size of half a cup would give you four times your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A.
Carrots are root veggies and indigenous to Europe and southwestern Asia. This vegetable can be eaten both raw and cooked. Carrot seeds would take 10 to 21 days to germinate if planted in the spring. And this crop can be harvested 50 to 75 days after being planted.
So how can you tell when your carrots are ready for harvesting? Are there any particular indicators to watch for? In this piece, we’ll go over these queries and attempt to provide answers by addressing some of the questions raised most frequently in this context.
Carrot cultivation can be both simple and complex. You may see undersized or malformed carrots if you don’t meet this vegetable’s basic needs. In other words, gravelly soil, a small growing area, and insufficient hydration might prevent carrots from growing to their full potential. Therefore, you must adhere to the fundamental conditions necessary for the vegetable to grow and prosper.
Here are a few easy methods to help you grow and take care of carrots efficiently.
Choose a location with well-drained soil, six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily, and a little afternoon shade if you want to grow healthy carrots. Carrots can also be grown in raised beds with supple soil.
Water-draining soil is necessary for carrot growth. Soil that is loose and sandy-loamy is best for growing this veggie. The optimal pH range for the soil is also between 6.0 and 6.8.
Carrots need 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted light exposure to develop healthily. However, some shade should also be there to protect this veggie from the sultry afternoon sun.
Carrots should not be grown in a crowded place. Once the seedlings are about an inch long, it is best to space them three to four inches apart. That way, your carrots will have enough area to grow well.
Provide your carrots with at least one inch of water per week during the growing stage. Then, as the roots expand, you can progressively cut back on watering by about two inches.
Growing healthy carrots need soil that is rich in organic materials. Therefore, it is advised to cover the sprouts with manure during the germination phase lightly. After that, you can continue fertilizing your carrots with organic vegetable fertilizer. Having said that, avoid fertilizing your crop excessively with nitrogen since this promotes the growth of the foliage, not the root.
How to Tell When Carrots Ready to Harvest?
Growing any root crop, including carrots, might resemble a guessing game. You did hear correctly. Root crops can’t be checked for maturity because they grow below the soil layer. The hardest aspect then becomes determining when to harvest these crops. But a solution exists.
Depending on your carrot type, the harvesting time would vary. It implies that the maturation times for different varieties of carrots would vary. We will discuss it in the subsequent section. For the time being, remember that this root vegetable typically takes 50 to 75 days to ripen appropriately.
Here are some tips to help you estimate the time to harvest your carrots.
1. See the Label of the Packet
If purchasing from a local garden store or online, you will probably get your carrot seeds in a labeled packet. One of the best ways to estimate the right time to harvest this vegetable is to check the seed packet. It should be written when it would be the right time to harvest the carrots.
2. Check the Top of the Carrots
Another way to estimate if your carrots are ready to be harvested is to check their tops. So, look at the top part of the carrots to see if they have filled out to the expected diameter. Carrot plants are ready to be harvested if you can see a bit of carrot root above the solid, with their diameter ranging between finger-sized to about 1 1/2 inches.
3. The Lift and Taste Test
To check the development of the roots, you may occasionally need to pluck off one or two carrot plants. If you are satisfied with their size, go ahead and harvest the rest of the lot. A mature carrot’s flavor can also indicate when the crop is ready to be harvested. Keep in mind that when eaten raw, fully matured carrots taste sweet.
However, if you are not satisfied, eat the plucked carrot and leave the lot to mature a bit more.
Note: It’s wise to harvest some carrots before they fully ripen, but not too soon. Removing the baby carrots from the rows allows you to create space for the other carrots to grow appropriately. So, when the carrot leaves are 1 to 2 inches tall, you can harvest some of them.
4. Count the Days After Cultivating the Seeds
As we have stated before, carrots usually take 50-75 days to mature from the day you plant them. This vegetable needs these many days to increase in size and flavor. So, you can calculate the days after you plant the carrot seeds and harvest them once the crops reach their 50th day.
It is important to note that carrots will continue to grow in size after the days specified above. However, their flavor and quality will continue to decline. Therefore, it implies that it is not advisable to leave ripe carrots underground for an extended period.
You May Read Also: When and How to Harvest Garlic?
Timeline of Different Varieties of Carrots
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the size of a carrot at maturity might vary significantly depending on the variety you choose to grow.
Always keep in mind that there is no ideal carrot size. Carrots will keep on growing if you do not pull them out. However, overripe carrots taste bad.
Here is a list of carrots and their maturity timeline to give you a reference.
|Carrot Types||Time Taken to Mature (Average in Days)|
How to Harvest Carrots?
After you are sure that your carrots have reached the right time to be harvested, it is time to adopt the best way to harvest them.
Whenever we think of harvesting carrots, we imagine pulling the veggie by its foliage. This is not entirely wrong but done in a wrong way would leave you with a handful of foliage and not the actual vegetable.
So what is the right way to harvest carrots?
Start by using a garden fork or small shovel to break up the soil around the carrots. You can dig or extract the carrots once the soil is sufficiently loosened. After that, trim the carrot’s green tops by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. The carrots can then be cooked or stored after being rinsed.
Note: It is ideal for harvesting carrots in the morning when the plants are fresh and not affected by the day’s temperature. Additionally, wait at least two to three days before harvesting your carrot patches if you have just watered them. It is vital, especially if you intend to store the carrots. It is important since too much moisture during storage could cause the roots to rot.
Bonus Read: The 5 Best Organic Garden Fertilizers
How to Store Extra Carrots?
This thought always crosses your mind when you have a good quantity of carrots in your possession. If properly stored, newly harvested carrots can be kept for up to 6 months. Additionally, there are many ways to store this vegetable. You can use any technique that suits your needs, such as submerging them in water or chilling them.
Follow the steps below to ensure that your newly harvested carrots are stored properly.
Cut the Tops
Cut the carrots’ green heads once they have been harvested. However, you can keep a stem that is approximately 1 inch long. Doing this can prevent the carrots from drying out quickly while storing them.
Wash the Carrots
This step will depend on how long you want to store your carrots.
If you are looking forward to storing this veggie for around a month, you can clean them and dry them up before storing them in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge.
But if the storage is aimed for a longer period, refrain from washing the carrots. A little dirt and the added moisture will help keep the carrots in good condition. Instead, you can store your carrots in a cool basement or root cellar. This storage method could keep the carrots in good shape for 4-6 months. Yet, occasional checking of the vegetable is recommended.
Freezing is another good option, especially if you do not have a root cellar or cool basement. Make sure you rinse the carrots properly before freezing them.
Store them in Water in the Refrigerator
Another alternative option is to store unwashed carrots in a plastic container, jar, or sealed packet, completely submerged under cold water. Remember to change the water if it gets cloudy or muddy every 3-4 days. This method will keep carrots crispy and fresh for up to 4 weeks.
Storing Carrots in Sand
The winter season is a good time to use this strategy. For this method, you need sand, a little water (to moisten the sand), a box, and freshly harvested carrots.
Follow the steps below to store carrots in sand.
- Dampen the sand but do not make it overtly watery
- Layer a crate or a wooden box with around 2 inches of sand
- Lay the carrots (with trimmed leaves) in a single row on the sand
- Cover the carrot layer with 1 inch of sand
- Repeat the process until the entire box is filled with carrot layers
- Place the box in a cold, dark, and well-ventilated room.
This storage method would keep carrots in good shape for around six months.
Keep them Away From Apples
Whichever storage method you adopt, keep in mind to keep the carrots away from ethylene producers. This is crucial because ethylene producers may cause premature rotting of carrots.
So this was our take on how to tell when carrots are ready to be harvested. Carrots are a fun vegetable to grow. And by reading this post, we hope you now have a plan for harvesting your homegrown carrots.
The following are the main ideas to remember from this article:
- When the carrot seeds have grown for at least 50 days after being planted, you can harvest them.
- The time needed for harvesting varies depending on the type of carrot.
- Look at the label on the seed packet to find out when to harvest the particular kind of carrot you are growing.
- Take care not to over-ripen the carrots.
- Never pull carrots directly; loosen the soil by digging before you pluck the carrots.