How to Grow Carrots

It seems as though most people know how to grow a carrot, but I have not had good luck in my own garden. Hence: How to Grow Carrots.

General Info:

Carrots that are allowed to flower and go to seed provide tons of volunteer plants for the next season. It’s like automatic succession gardening.

REOG-96: Carrots that are allowed to flower produce umbrells with tiny florets of fragrant flowers that beneficial insects and pollinators are very attracted to, including honeybees.

REOG-313: The Carrot Family, Apiaceae, includes carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Florence Fennel, Hamburg parsley, Parsley, Parsnips, Skirret, and Turnip-rooted chervil. The latin name for carrots is Daucus carota. Queen Anne’s Lace is also part of this family. The family all flowers in the same way, tiny individual flowers produced in a creamy white, umbrella-shaped flowerhead, known as umbels. They are very attractive to beneficial insects.

Carrots are a traditional root crop, that is hardy and can be direct sown. They may be left in the ground for use over winter or harvested for storage. Early carrots, which are quicker to produce, are eaten fresh.

REOG-344: not suited for all soils and can be a challenge to grow.

REOG-344: Using a selection of cultivars, it’s possible to harvest carrots almost all year round. They can also be closely spaced, giving a good yield from a relatively small area.

Green shoulders of carrots are actually stem tissue, since root tissue can’t photosynthesize RD

Varieties:

Cultivars Available:

Early Cultivars

REOG-313: Early carrots, which are quicker to produce, are eaten fresh.

REOG-298: Early Cultivars can be sown from February thru March will be harvestable from June through July.

Main Crop Cultivars

REOG-313: Main crop carrots may be left in the ground for use over winter or harvested for storage.

REOG-298: Main crop cultivars sown April through June are ready to be harvested from August through December.

Root Shapes:

  • small & round
  • slender or broad
  • short or long
  • cylindrical or tapering

Root Colors

  • orange
  • red
  • yellow
  • purple
  • white

Container Varieties:

BBGS-244: short-rooted varieties like:

  • Nantes Half-long,
  • Royal Chantenay,
  • Little Finger.

REOG-210: early, short-, or round-rooted varieties are good, such as:

  • ‘Little Finger’
  • ‘Thumbelina’
  • ‘Planet’

Companions:

BBGS-7: Companions: Bush & Pole Beans, Lettuce, Onios, Peas, Radishes, Tomatoes

BBGS-8: Herb Companions: Chives, Flax (deters potato bug), Marigold (workhorse of companion plants; discourages Mexican bean beetles, nematodes & other insects), Rosemary (deters cabbage moth, bean beetles, and carrot fly), Sage (deters cabbage moth & carrot fly). Dill dislikes carrots…Fennel is disliked by MOST plants.

BBGS-139: interplanting Onions and Garlic deters rust fly

REOG-95: Carrot flies seem to be deterred by onions, as long as there are 4x onions to carrots. It seems to be a matter of confusing the pest with the strong-smelling onion. But this only seems to last while the onions are actively growing and stops when they start to produce bulbs. This may only be effective in field gardening, not on a home garden scale.

REOG-96: Carrots are great companions to your whole garden. Carrots that are allowed to flower produce umbrells with tiny florets of fragrant flowers that beneficial insects and pollinators are very attracted to.

REOG-196: Carrot flowers are great for attracting honeybees

Edible Landscaping:

BBGS-19: Plant in a feathery mass or grow as an edging.

Me: they can grow quite tall. The flowers attract tons of beneficial insects (honey bees, ladybugs) and smell yummy.

Growth Requirements:

pH:

REOG- 344: 6.5-7.5

Nutrients:

BBGS-121: Carrots are light feeders and can be interplanted with most vegetables.

BBGS-138: too much nitrogen causes branching & hairy, fibrous roots

BBGS-138: Potassium promotes solid, sweet carrots. Wood ashes contain highly soulble potassium, that can reach the plant quickly. Work them into the top 4″ as the bed is prepared. This is where the feeder roots live.

REOG-372: Calcium deficiencies show up as cavity spots on root. common in acidic soils, and plants growing in containers with erratic water supply.

Soil:

BBGS-138: need a stone-free, deeply worked soil that drains well. During early growth, if the taproot meets any obstruction, it will branch or stop growing. Raised beds are best for carrots.

REOG-60: manure should not be used where root crops (like carrots) grow.

REOG-344: not suited for all soils and can be a challenge to grow.

Water:

BBGS-138: Too much water may cause carrots to develop cavity spots

Soil Temperature:

REOG-345: 45 degrees F, for germination

Air Temperature:

Container Growing:

REOG-210: Carrots grow well in containers. They do well in a pot mixed with others, as well as on their own. They are easily protected from carrot fly by draping row cover over the pot. Container should be at least 6″ deep. Harvest the bigger carrots first, which will leave the others to grow bigger. Varieties to grow are early, short-, or round-rooted varieties.

Planting:

Timing:

BBGS-41&51: Carrots are a hardy plant, which means they can be planted as soon as the ground is workable. But although carrots can grow in cold soil, they are likely to be eaten by tiny flea beetles, so they are best planted a few weeks after the ground is first workable.

BBGS-138: they are cool weather veggies, so start sowing about 2-weeks before the last expected frost, as long as the ground is workable. Make successive plantings every three weeks until July.

REOG-298: Early Cultivars can be sown indoors in January or early February. Outdoors, they should be succession sown, from the beginning of February till the end of March. The harvest period will then be from June through July.

Main crop cultivars should be started outdoors, in succession, from the beginning of April all the way through the end of June. This will make for fresh carrots to be harvested from August through December.

Soil Prep:

BBGS-138: Till soil to at least 8″, adding plenty of compost, but no manure, unless it is well rotted. Excess nitrogen causes branching and hairy, fibrous roots. Work wood ashes (high in soluble potassium) into the top 4″, where the feeder roots will be. Before planting, rake the bed of any rocks or dirt clods. Make furrows about 3/4″ deep, spaced 4″ apart. Place 1/2″ layer of sifted peat moss in the bottom of the furrows. Bed is ready for sowing.

REOG-60: manure should not be applied where root crops (like carrots) grow.

REOG- 344: medium to light, stone-free soil in sunny, open site. Do not sow immediately following a winter rye green manure crop.

Spacing:

REOG-345: Early (quick) cultivars are often grown at wider spacing than main crops to aid in rapid growth.

Row Planting:

REOG-345: Rows 6″ apart; sow thinly, then thin early carrots to 3″. Thin medium-size main crop carrots to 1.5″, to 3″ for larger roots.

Block Planting:

REOG-345: broadcast sow; thin to 3-6″

Mini-Veg:

REOG-345: 1/2″ by 6″

Mulch:

BBGS-139: clean straw, chopped leaves, pine needles, compost. Mulch prevents green shoulder and keeps weeds at bay.

REOG- 344: Mulching with a low-fertility soil improver in the previous winter can be beneficial.

Container Gardening:

BBGS-244: Plant short-rooted varieties (see recommendations) in Spring, summer or Fall, thin early to 3″ apart; make sure the soil is at least 10″ deep and very loose.

Seed Sowing:

BBGS-138: After prepping the soil (see Soil Prep), layer 1/2″ of sifted peat moss in the bottom of the furrows, then space seeds 1/2″ apart. They are slow to start, so sometimes gardeners mix the seeds with radish seeds to mark the rows. Cover the seeds with another 1/4″ of peat moss. Keep the bed moist until carrots sprout. Some people use burlap bags, soaked to keep the bed moist. Remove the bags daily and water until the sprouts are well established.

REOG-110: Gel-sowing carrot seeds is a speedier way of germinating these slow-to-germinate plants. It’s also less likely to damage their sensitive roots. It’s also been known to give higher yields of these slow-germinating early carrots.

REOG-122: Seeds of the carrot family are produced in flattish heads called umbels. If you are collecting seeds, choose the biggest umbrels. These contain the best quality seed. Harvest them when the seeds are ripe and leave them to dry; they can then be winnowed. Winnowing is the separation of seeds and chaff. This can be done by placing the seeds in a bowl and blowing carefully. The debris is usually lighter and ejected from the bowl. A hair dryer can also be used, on its cool setting.

REOG-123: Carrot seeds last 1-3 years, properly sealed.

REOG-315: Carrots should be sown as thinly as possible, to avoid the need for thinning and thus reduce the risk of attack by carrot rust fly. Carrot thinnings cannot be replanted. If thinning is necesary, remove all thinnings immediately and water to firm the soil.

REOG-344: Germination is often slow and uneven. Improve by using pelleted seed or gel-sowing pre-germinated seed.

Routine Maintenance:

BBGS-139: keep bed moist and weed by hand until they are 2″ tall. They grow slowly and can’t compete with weeds. Thin to 3″ spacings, then mulch. Mulch helps prevent green shoulder. Soaking the bed once a week with a thin mixture of wood ashes and water will prevent the common carrot pests

REOG- 344: No additional feeding is needed in reasonable soil, or in soil amended with compost for a previous crop.

REOG-345: keep weed-free when young. Water well in dry weather.

Problems:

Branching

BBGS-138: too much nitrogen

Cavities Near Crown

BBGS-138: Cavity Spots: Black spots near the crown of the root, which break down leaving cavities. Too much water may cause carrots to develop cavity spots

REOG-372: Cavity Spot: oval spots on roots develop into cracks and craters. Organisms may invade, causing rapid root rotting. Caused by Calcium Deficiency. Common in acidic soils, and plants growing in containers with erratic water supply.

Discolored Foliage

REOG-313: Carrot Rust Fly; check for root damage.

Green Shoulder

BBGS-139: exposing the shoulders of the carrot result in greening, which makes the carrot taste bitter. Prevent with mulching.

Hairy & Fibrous Roots

BBGS-138: too much nitrogen

Root Rot

Wilting or Weakened Growth

REOG-93: Carrot fly

Pests:

BBGS-139: Soaking the bed once a week with a thin mixture of wood ashes and water will prevent the common carrot pests with a watering can. Most pests and diseases of carrots are soil-borne, and can be controlled by crop rotation.

Carrot Fly:

REOG-93: Carrot flies are root feeders. Damage restricts nutrient and water uptake, restricting and weakening growth and causing wilting.

REOG-95: Carrot flies seem to be deterred by onions, as long as there are 4x onions to carrots. But this only seems to last while the onions are actively growing and stops when they start to produce bulbs. This may only be effective in field gardening, not on a home garden scale.

REOG-101: Carrot fly adults can be blocked by a simple 18-20″ fence. The host-seeking female carrot fly keeps low to the ground, because they are weak fliers and get blown off course by wind. The fence prevents the fly from getting into the carrot patch, with a side benefit of acting kind of like a chimney to take the carrot odor upward, away from the host-seeking females.

REOG-233: floating row cover or lightweight, fine mesh, is an excellent barrier to carrot fly.

Root Maggot:

BBGS-121: sprinkle coffee grounds over carrot plantings to repel the root maggot

Flea Beetle:

BBGS-41: Although carrots can grow in cold soil, they are likely to be eaten by tiny flea beetles, so they are best planted a few weeks after the ground is first workable.

Carrot Rust Fly:

BBGS-139: Rust Fly is the terror of the insects for carrots. Carrots planted after the first week of June often escape the first generation of rust flies, and those harvested before September escape the second generation. Interplanting onions or garlic will also ward them off. Compost and wood ashes will also scare off rust flies, along with carrot weevils, wireworms, and other carrot pests.

REOG-313: Carrot Rust Fly is the major pest of the whole Apiaceae family. The larvae of the Carrot Rust Fly feed on the roots of all its members. Discolored floiage may be noticed before root damage. Barriers and row covers are the most effective way to prevent damage.

REOG-315: Carrots should be sown as thinly as possible, to avoid the need for thinning and thus reduce the risk of attack by carrot rust fly. Carrot thinnings cannot be replanted.

REOG-345: Carrots sown in early June miss the first generation of fly attack and are large enough to survive a second-generation attack. Carrot rust fly may be attracted by the scent of crushed carrot foliage, so sow thinly to minimize the need for thinning. Thin in the evening, not in bright sun when carrot rust flies will be active. Onions may offer protection: grow 4 rows of onions for every row of carrots.

REOG-372: Psila rosae: small, shiny black flies lay eggs in small clusters near host plants, starting in late spring. The larvae are creamy white, up to 1/2″ long. Pupae, and sometimes larvae, overwinter in soil and roots of carrot and parsnip. There are two or three generations per year, the first causing the most damage. First sign is generally reddening of the foliage and stunted growth. Roots will have rusty brown irregular tunnels eaten away just below the skin. Larvae may be visible. To prevent: avoid growing in sheltered sites, delay sowing until June, harvest crops by late autumn, and there are some cultivars which are said to be less susceptible. Sow thinly to avoid thinning, but if thinning is necesary, remove all thinnings immediately and water to firm the soil. Cover with row cover or a fine mesh netting immediately after sowing. Can be grown under cover throughout the life of the crop, since pollination isn’t needed. Turn over soil in winter where damage has occurred to expose overwintering larvae.

Carrot Weevils:

BBGS-139: Compost and wood ashes will deter these

Wireworms:

BBGS-139: Compost and wood ashes will deter these

BBGS-244

Diseases:

REOG-345: diseases are rare in carrots.

Calcium Deficiency

REOG-372: Cavity Spot, oval spots on roots, develop into cracks and craters. Organisms may invade, causing rapid root rotting. Caused by Calcium Deficiency. Common in acidic soils, and plants growing in containers with erratic water supply. A true calcium deficiency is rare, though it can occur in some acidic soils. Symptoms are more commnonly the result of disruption in the supply of calcium, caused by shortage of water, which slows the transport of calcium to the plant, and also by excessive use of potassium or magnesium-rich fertilizers. Add lime to acidic soils, where appropriate, up to a pH of 6.5. apply organic matter to soil to maintain conditions that allow a steady water supply throughout the season. Never let container-grown plants dry out.

Root Rot

REOG-313: affects several root crops, especially in wetter soils. Avoid growing susceptible plants on an infected site for at least 4 years.

Harvest:

Harvesting the Root: Carrots

Timing

  • most varieties take a little less than 3 months; if they are left in the ground too long they will get tough and woody BBGS-139
  • Seed to harvest: Early cultivars: 9 weeks. main crop cultivars: 20 weeks REOG-344
  • Using a selection of cultivars, it’s possible to harvest carrots almost all year round REOG-344
  • Main crop carrots may be left in the ground for use over winter (mulch with straw to protect from cold, in cold areas) or harvested for storage. Early carrots, which are quicker to produce, are eaten fresh REOG-313
  • Early Cultivars can be sown from February thru March will be harvestable from June through July. Main crop cultivars sown April through June are ready to be harvested from August through December REOG-298
  • Carrot roots are about 3/4″ – 1″ when they are ready to be harvested. You’ll have to pull up a root to check on the right timing. VG

Yield

BBGS-56: 1/8 oz. of seeds is enough for one 50′ row; set 1-3″ apart, with rows spaced 12″ apart. One 50′ row will feed 5 people.

REOG-344: Can be closely spaced, giving a good yield from a relatively small area.

Method

BBGS-139: Largest carrots will have the darkest, greenest tops, They are at their prime when at about 1″ diameter at the crown. To harvest, drench the bed with water and pull the greens right at the crown and twist slightly while pulling. Use damaged carrots first, since they won’t store long.

REOG- 344: Carrot roots are edible even when very little, so they can be grown as a mini-veg.

Storage:

BBGS-139: Thick-cored varieties store best. there are 3 ways to store: 1) leave them in the ground under heavy mulch, 2) store them in a root cellar or underground barrel, 3) keep them in the crisper bin of the refrigerator. damaged carrots won’t store long.

REOG-313: Main crop carrots may be left in the ground for use over winter or harvested for storage. Early carrots, which are quicker to produce, are eaten fresh.

REOG-345: Storage in the ground is not advisable in heavy soils or where carrot fly is a problem. Lift October-November for storage.

Harvesting Seeds:

REOG-122: Seeds of the carrot family are produced in flattish heads called umbels. If you are collecting seeds, choose the biggest umbrels. These contain the best quality seed. Harvest them when the seeds are ripe and leave them to dry; they can then be winnowed. Winnowing is the separation of seeds and chaff. This can be done by placing the seeds in a bowl and blowing carefully. The debris is usually lighter and ejected from the bowl. A hair dryer can also be used, on its cool setting.

REOG-123: Carrot seeds last 1-3 years, properly sealed.

REOG-123: Carrot seeds are considered to be moderately easy to save, judged on an overall score for ease of pollination, maintenance of purity, and ease of harvest and cleaning.

Sources:

1 thought on “How to Grow Carrots

  1. Carmen Maurer

    Wow! Thank you! I’m planting my first garden by seed and your information on the carrot taught me a lot!! I appreciate the time you spent.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.