Children love to pull their own carrots out of the garden to rinse and eat. Adorable baby carrots are a delightful garnish and snack — they command a premium price at the store. And, when you grow your own carrots you don't have to stick to orange. There are also white, yellow and even purple varieties to choose from.
Carrots require deep, loose soil with good drainage and no clumps or stones. In other words, nothing that might get in the way of the development of their tiny, taproots. If your soil is less than ideal, choose short round varieties.
Originating in France, the Nante types with their blunt tips are the sweetest and best textured.
In the past, carrots were planted at the same time as onions and other very early crops. Now, the prevailing wisdom is to wait until the soil temperature reaches at least 55 ° F which will significantly increase germination rates. Some gardeners like to wait even longer until after the heavy spring rains which can wash away delicate seedlings.
For the healthiest and tastiest cooked carrots, cook them whole and then slice. When eating them raw, non-organic carrots should be peeled. For more information, visit Cook a Carrot This Way for a Cancer-Fighting Effect.
- Annual cool season crop, half-hardy to frost and light freezes.
- Plant in both early spring and mid-summer for two crops.
- Seed must be direct-sowed into the garden.
Planting and Tending
- Plant in garden when soil temperature is over 55 ° F and after the heavy spring rains. For a detailed spring planting schedule, check out this Vegetable Planting Schedule.
- Use pelleted seed spaced 1" apart, or seed tape to avoid the need for labor-intensive thinning.
- Plant into a shallow 1/4" deep trench and keep seeds moist so they'll germinate.
- Harvest (and enjoy) every other carrot when the plants are still "babies" and leave the remaining to grow to larger sizes.
- Exposure to the sun results in carrots with green shoulders. To prevent this, cover the shoulders with a bit of fine topsoil when they start to peek out.
- The darkest and greenest tops indicate the largest carrots.
- Light feeders, carrots will produce more top than root when given too much nitrogen.
- Plant with other root crops such as beets, onions, and radishes.
- Plant near:
- Do not plant near:
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You may also appreciate these books on growing vegetable gardens.