Carrots are great vegetables to grow the garden. They can be started as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. They are much more tender and tasty than the carrots you can buy in the grocery store. There are lots of varieties of carrots that come in different colors as well as different lengths. The short varieties are better for heavy clay soils. The long varieties are best in soft deep soil that is well drained. Once you’ve decided the varieties that you want to grow you can start to prepare your garden.
Preparing the Garden for Carrots
Carrots like full sun but do OK in partial shade. Carrots like a soft fluffy soil so it’s always good to add two to three inches of compost to the soil before planting. Carrots also like potash, so a fertilizer with a higher last number is a good bet, or you can sprinkle on a half-inch layer of wood ashes and work them into the soil. Once you’ve added to what you need to your soil you should till it up good and make it nice and light and fluffy, for the shorter varieties working it to four to six inches deep is good, but the long varieties you’ll need to work the soil down at least a foot.
Once you have your soil prepared it’s time to plant your carrots. Carrots should be direct sown into the garden as they do not transplant well. Seeds should be planted thinly in rows one to two feet apart, and planted at no more than ¼ inch deep. After planting the soil needs to be kept moist until the carrots start group to grow. Some people plant radishes in the rows of carrots because carrots are slow to germinate and the radishes mark the rows. Because radishes grow so fast you’ll harvest them long before the carrots. If your soil is a very heavy clay you may want to plant your seeds and cover them with a soilless seed starting mix to prevent the soil from crusting over them and preventing germination, again no more than a quarter inch deep.
Thinning the Carrots
In about ten to fourteen days the carrots will be up and growing, and you will need to thin them now to one inch apart in the rows. This is very important or you won’t get decent sized carrots. Carrots should be kept moist throughout their growing. About one inch of water per week is good. After your carrots get to be pencil sized in diameter you should thin them again to about one for every three inches in the row. The small carrots that you harvest and during this thinning process are great for salads.
Harvesting and Storing
After about 60 to 70 days your carrots will be fully grown and ready for harvesting. If you don’t need your garden space it may be best to just harvest the carrots you want to use and leave the rest in the ground, as this is probably the best way to store them. You can store them all the way through winter this way if you cover them with a good layer of about a foot to foot and a half of hay or straw. If you cover them with hay or straw you should put a plastic tarp over it so it does not get wet and cause the carrot plants to rot.
Carrots can also be stored in a root cellar where they like cool damp conditions and they will keep for up to six months. They can also be frozen. The small ones can be frozen whole, while the large ones need to be sliced.
That’s the basics on growing carrots, if you have any questions or concerns or comments please Contact FarmerDavesGarden.com
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