Growing Carrots in your own garden is a rewarding process. Believe it or not, Carrots used to come in all sorts of colors before orange became the standard color choice. Here at Seed Needs, we offer a wide selection, from traditional orange carrots, to more colorful selections such as Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple & Solar Yellow. Carrots don't only come in a number of colors, they come in many sizes as well. Popular varieties such as the Paris Market variety will produce round shaped carrots, while others such as "Chantenay" will produce short, fat roots.
Carrots can be easily established from freshly harvested Daucus carota seeds. This article will inform you of, when to sow carrots, as well as how to sow carrots. We will also cover topics regarding, site specifications, including water & sunlight preferences, soil conditions, growth habits & more.
When To Plant Carrot Seeds
First off, carrots can germinate in the cooler temperatures of late winter to early spring. When temperatures reach a constant of 45F to 50F you should begin prepping your sowing area. This is usually 3 weeks prior to the last frost. Most carrot varieties tend to grow and produce within 70 days after the first sprouts appear, but some can take up to 90 days. For a constant supply of carrots that lasts all through the summer, sow your seeds every 2 weeks.
When growing carrots in late winter, early spring, be careful not to rush the season if temperatures are known to decrease heavily as this can cause some varieties to bolt. When sowing for a fall harvest, keep in mind that carrots have difficulty germinating when temperatures are too hot. So the ideal temperature should be below 85F when planting for a fall harvest. This is usually around 10 to 12 weeks prior to the first frost.
There are three things that you should keep in mind when growing carrots, they require an area of full sunlight, plenty of moisture and they MUST be grown in a medium that is free of all rocks, gravel and debris. To start, you will want to make sure of that last necessity mentioned, by removing all hard rocks, gravel and debris prior to sowing your seeds. If the medium is not loose and free of these objects, the roots can become twisted and forked.
Begin by turning the soil or replacing it with a fresh soil or medium, that is both fertile & rich in organic matter. The sowing area should also be well drained as well. To increase your drainage, we reccomend adding a light compost to any areas that consist of hard, compact soil. As explained above, temperatures should be kept below 85F when germinating carrots, and should also be above 45F. The seeds germinate best with temperatures between 50F and 65F. Provide an area that will receive a constant ray of sunshine, for at least 8 hours of the day.
Keep the soil moist until germination occurs, later watering the soil when it becomes dry. A mist setting works best at first, this ensures that the seeds do not receive too much moisture & that they are not disrupted or washed away. An ample amount of water is always crucial when growing carrots, but you will want to avoid overwatering as this will cause splitting and cracking in your roots.
How To Plant Carrot Seeds
Depending on how many carrots you would like to grow, and also how many you will use, you may consider preparing 5 to 10 rows, with each row being roughly 10 feet long. Space each row about 6 inches apart from one another. All Seed Needs packets are measured to contain roughly 800+ seeds, which will be plenty to fill your 10 foot rows.
With any seed, the rule of thumb when sowing, is to sow them double that of the seed size. With carrots, it's a bit different, because the seeds will need to be sown at a depth of 1/2" under topsoil, spacing each seed roughly 1 inch apart from one another. When the sprouts become 1 inch tall, you can begin thinning 1, every three inches apart. It is crucial that you give your carrot plants this space to avoid having some with underdeveloped roots.
Germination & Growth Habits
Your carrots will begin to germinate within 7 to 14 days after sowing, but can sometimes take up to 21 days. Once established, the roots will grow downwards, breaking through various layers of soil. They can measure anywhere from 2 to 3 inches, for short and/or round varieties, such as Little Finger or Paris Market. Other varieties, such as Tendersweet or Imperator can grow up to 9 inches long. Some carrots even exceed 10 inches long, in fact the largest carrot recorded was an astounding 19 feet and 1.96 inches, as recorded in the Guinness World Record.
You can also refer back to your seed packet for additional information on the length of roots or the shape of your carrots. The tops will usually reach a height of 1 to 2 feet tall and aren't often used for human consumption, however they can be consumed. They also make a great snack for pet rabbits. Check out this article for a few recipes and uses for carrot tops, for human consumption.
Most carrot varieties can be harvested once they reach 3/4" in thickness. This is the average thickness, but remember smaller varieties can be harvested with less than 3/4" of thickness and round varieties can be harvested at more than 3/4" thick. When pulling the roots from the ground, you will notice that if you simply grab the green leaves and tug, you will get nothing but a handful of foliage. It always helps to loosen the soil around your carrots, prior to pulling them from the ground.
Once you have successfully pulled your carrots from the earth, you may consider storing them or enjoying them fresh. To store your carrots, first we recommend rinsing them and cutting the greens about 1/2" above the carrot top. Placing them in cold storage, or a fridge can allow you to preserve your carrots for about 4 weeks. You might also consider burying them in a bucket of sand, to later place in a cold cellar.
Carrots can also be left in the ground for natural storage as well. If you are overwintering your carrots, this will not affect the roots, however the green tops will die with the cold temperatures. This can cause difficulties in finding your carrots when you would like to pick them later on.
ALWAYS avoid storing carrots with fruits such as apples or pears, as these fruits release a gas that can cause your carrot roots to become bitter.
In conclusion, growing carrots from freshly harvested seeds, is a fairly easy task. Because of their vertical growth habit, they are very easily squeezed into even the smallest of gardens. They won't take up much room and are easy to maintain, just as long as you keep the surrounding area weeded. Carrots are used in all sorts of culinary dishes, such as pot roasts, pot pies, carrot cakes, salads & more. They can also be enjoyed raw with a side of ranch dressing as well.