Carrot origins can be traced back to 10th century Persia and Asia Minor. The first carrots were purple or white and featured a thin root. During the 16th century, orange carrots were formed from a yellow mutation. The US is a huge cultivator of carrots and actually competes on a global scale. From these starchy, roots we can get healthy doses of vitamins A, C, B6, and Niacin. Carrots are biennials so their roots store energy over the winter to be dispensed for blooming white flowers in the following spring. We are going to focus on how to grow carrots from seed as well as varieties and care.
- Nantes (6”-7”) feature a mild, sweet taste and a crisp texture, and are not tapered.
- Danvers (6”-8”) are a deep orange color, and known for being able to handle heavy soil
- Imperator (8”-11”) the most common type of carrot in North America, lower in sugar than other varieties, and easy to peel.
Important notes for how to grow carrots from seed:
- Full sun exposure.
- Temperatures from 45-85 degrees.
- Planting from April to mid-July results in a harvest between July and November
- Sowing seeds every three weeks can provide a continuous harvest.
- Plant up through the first two weeks of August to harvest during winter.
Preparing the Beds
The soil should be completely free of debris and loosened with a shovel or garden fork. The best type of soil to grow in is where there has already been a good amount of organic decay. However, you can amend the soil in the spring by adding ½ cup of fertilizer for every 10-foot row. Ideally, you want the soil pH to be around 5.5 to 6.8. Since moisture during germination is imperative; water the soil very deeply prior to planting.
- Decide where you want your rows, and ensure there are at least three inches in between each row.
- Make indentations in your soil about ¼ inch deep. You want the seeds to rest shallowly. Sow four seeds per one inch.
- Pat soil lightly after seeding. It is recommended to slightly hill the soil as to prevent green shoulder.
- Water your rows immediately after planting. During germination (first 14-21 days), keeping moisture is of absolute importance. You may care to cover with mulch or a row cover to retain moisture. You can even use a wooden plank that you will lift every few days to check and remove after germination.
Caring for Carrots per Season
The most important thing to keep in mind for how to grow carrots from seed is to water every 1-3 days as dryness can affect the taste of the carrots and cause cracks. A watering can is the best option for a light stream so that the seeds are not disrupted. Make sure the soil does not become saturated.
Thin carrots for a space of one and half to four inches when they are about one inch in length so that they do not compete for nutrients. Applying organic fertilizer to the leaves every three to four weeks can aid in a great harvest. A potassium sprinkle is also beneficial.
Pests and Possible Diseases
• Wireworms can chew damaging holes through the roots. Either bury marked carrot pieces in your seedbed that can be dug up bringing the wireworms with it or plant mustard leaves as the taste is a natural deterrent.
• Carrot Rust Flies lay their eggs in carrot roots and chew holes that cause rot. Their eggs in the roots will change the flavor rendering it inedible. Planting early in June will help to avoid their main season, and row covers will also help keep them away.
Carrots can be harvested even as immature baby roots. The result of an early harvest is a crunchy and sweet carrot. Full maturity will be indicated when carrot’s turn bright orange. Harvest could happen within 58 days but it could also take as long as 75-100 days. Carrots do fine in temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and can be stored in sand or heaped soil during the winter to be pulled only when you need them. If you plant under optimal conditions and do well to keep your carrots moist you can expect that at least 60% of the seeds will germinate.
Now that you have learned how to grow carrots from seed it is great to know carrots are a great vegetable to plant for limited space as they can be planted fairly densely since they grow in depth not width. Carrots also grow great in the North American climate and soil, and carrots are full of great vitamins. As carrots grow it is necessary to thin out the rows which can be a hassle, however overall, carrots are a great option for an easy, fast-growing crop.
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