How to Grow Carrots

by KathleenDuffy

Growing your own carrots means there's more variety choice and, if you choose, less chemicals. This versatile veg is a very rewarding crop to grow.

But why go to the trouble of growing your own carrots when they are cheap and plentiful in our supermarkets?

Well - most gardeners love a challenge for starters! And home grown vegetables are so much tastier than the store-bought variety. Yes, they might have a few bumps and lumps here and there, but the shape perfection demanded by the supermarkets is so wasteful. Any vegetables that don't look 'normal' are discarded by the supermarkets. Seems like discrimination extends right into the vegetable world too! (Why don't they sell these 'ugly' carrots more cheaply?)

Then there's the choice to go organic and use no chemicals at all. You'll know what's in your home-grown, lumpy, bumpy, quirky carrots.

Last, but not least, how about the sheer satisfaction of pulling up your own carrots and knowing that the journey they took to reach your stove was probably less than a couple of minutes?

Suggested Carrot Varieties to Grow

So much more choice than the supermarket varieties!
Carrots of Many Colours
Carrots of Many Colours

When did you last see purple or white carrots in your local supermarket? Probably never!  That's because supermarkets won't risk anything out of the ordinary - they won't risk an unpopular purple carrot taking up space when they can guarantee you'll definitely buy an ordinary yellow one. You can't blame them - it's their job to sell lots of predictable, conservative carrots! Unusual veg takes up space and may not sell.

However, when you grow your own carrots you answer to no one.  The profit motive doesn't come into it.  You can grow any colour of carrot you want and any shape too - including globe-shaped carrots.

Here is just a small sample of the huge variety of carrots available from seed catalogues, garden centres and the internet. These varieties are popular and reliable but there's plenty of  carrot diversity  out there if you want it.

Amsterdam Forcing – Good for early planting. Sow every two weeks for crops from spring to autumn. Freezes well.

 

Autumn King 2 – A heavyweight carrot, which can be left in the ground throughout the winter months and will not split.

 

Nandor – Quick growing and resistant to carrot fly.

 

Purple Haze - F1 hybrid, beautiful purple colour and vigorous growth – might encourage children to eat their veggies!

 

Rainbow – F1 seeds in a variety of beautiful shades.

 

Resistafly – Good resistance to the carrot fly nuisance.

Preparing the Ground for your Carrot Crop

Carrots can be sown directly into the ground from March to June, at two week intervals for a long cropping period. However, they  can also be sown earlier or later, but make sure to cover sowings with fleece to protect from early and late frosts.Carrots grow best in a light, well drained soil, so avoid clay. At the same time, the soil should be able to retain moisture.

  • Prepare the soil by breaking it down with a fork, sieving it if needed, and then add some well-rotted compost.   
  • Make sure the soil is really broken down because, like beetroot, carrots are a root vegetable and stones can get in the way of their growing reasonably straight. However, some carrots do grow in very amusing and ribald ways and are no worse for it!  
  • Don’t worry if the soil isn’t quite right – it’s possible to grow a good crop of carrots in deep containers, about 30-45cms, filled with compost or fine garden soil. 

Planting The Seeds and Harvesting

 

  • With the edge of a hoe make a 1cm deep seed trench.
  • Seeds should be sown thinly in the bottom of the trench and then covered over with soil. Water thoroughly but gently. 
  • Once the seeds germinate they become prey to the dreaded carrot fly. Cover the seedlings with fleece to avoid attacks and keep covered throughout the growing season. This may not look particularly attractive, but carrot fly can devastate crops. They also seem to be able to spot a carrot patch from miles away!  
  • Thin out seedlings so they are approximately 8cms apart.

When harvesting, lift the carrots carefully to avoid breaking them. It’s a good tip to lift them after the rain, or water the ground first. This makes for easier removal.

To store your delicious, home-grown carrots go to this website for a lot of information.

Now that the carrots are harvested, it's time to start cooking! See here for a link to my two delicious carrot soup recipes.

 

                                                         *********************

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Updated: 01/19/2014, KathleenDuffy
 
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KathleenDuffy on 01/10/2014

Frank - You are so right! :)

frankbeswick on 01/10/2014

For carrots:
Grow in containers or raised beds
Protect seedlings from heavy raindrops
Deep soil containing a mixture of compost and sand, and definitely no stones, which make the carrots fork.
Ideally let the water come in from below to make the carrots long.

If you put love into your vegetable growing, you will succeed.

KathleenDuffy on 01/10/2014

Sometimes growing carrots can be challenging! I agree about pumpkins - and gourds. They also look amazing which is a bonus. :)

VioletteRose on 01/09/2014

Very useful information on growing carrots, thank you! I have tried growing many vegetables but succeeded mainly in growing pumpkins. They are so easy to grow! I have never tried growing carrots.

KathleenDuffy on 01/06/2014

ologsinquito - great that you grew some cucumbers! They are another versatile veg. I agree it's easy to get bored - so why not go for the weird and wonderful? You could try growing gourds as they are strangely shaped, very colourful, with odd textures and although not all of them are edible, you can make some fantastic things from them. http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/BCRoad...

ologsinquito on 01/06/2014

I lose interest as well and forget to water my plants. So I don't have much luck. But that doesn't stop me from trying to grow SOMETHING every year. One year we did get a few cucumbers.

KathleenDuffy on 01/06/2014

Abby, I think your carrots might have done well because you planted them in between flowers. This 'companion planting' often deters insects and encourages bees and ladybirds. You obviously have a natural talent! :)

AbbyFitz on 01/06/2014

I love carrots! Unfortunately I'm not a very good gardener. I lose interest. I will say I planted carrots once, but I planted them as greenery in between flowers. They were pretty, and as a bonus I had something to eat at the end. They fared well with my neglect :)

KathleenDuffy on 01/06/2014

Hi Frank - Great idea about the plastic drainpipes! I am with you on the raised beds! They are brilliant, look good too and are so easy to use - I had them on my allotment.

frankbeswick on 01/06/2014

One year I had good results from growing carrots in cut down black plastic drainpipes. They were filled with compost and covered in a mixture of sand and compost. This worked one year, but when we got two seasons of bad summers in England the seeds were washed out. I have had the best results from raised beds.

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