How to Grow Carrots – A Guide to Growing Carrots
Carrots are quite easy to grow but need deep fertile sandy soil . They come in various shapes and colours ranging from small round varieties, short cylindrical (stump rooted) to the long-rooted types . There are early and maincrop varieties.
The earliest carrots are ready to be eaten after about 10–12 weeks and are suitable for raised beds and containers in a 50:50 mixture of sand and multipurpose compost. They can be grown for an earlier crop undercover, under cloches, in coldframes or in the greenhouse.
The maincrop varieties need about 16 weeks to grow and will store for use over the winter.
Carrots don’t like stony ground or ground which has had manure or compost recently added; this can cause them to fork or fang – making them impossible to prepare for cooking.
Seeds may take about 16-20 days to germinate and can retain viability for 3 years.
Sow carrots in a sunny spot outdoors in situ from late February (under cloches before mid-March or in the open after that) until to July for harvest during June to December . Carrot varieties come in short (golf ball to long finger), intermediate and long-rooted varieties.
Varieties of Carrot
- Amsterdam Forcing is a very early short stump ended variety is good for container growing and small spaces. It freezes well.
- Early Nantes 2 is a slightly longer, pointed, short variety which is also good for container growing and small spaces. It is fast maturing and is rich orange in colour with a sweet crunchy taste, it freezes well.
- Maestro is resistant to Carrot fly and is excellent for organic growing. Awarded the RHS Award Of Garden Merit (AGM).
- Flyaway and Resistafly are leading varieties for resistance to carrot fly with delicious crunchy , sweet roots .
- Autumn King is a large intermediate stump rooted variety . It is very hardy and will stand well overwinter. It has slight resistance to carrot fly.
- New Red Intermediate and St Valery are the choice for giant length carrots for the show bench.
Pests and Problems with Carrots
Carrots can suffer with a number of problems including green top , fanging, splitting, root rot and leaf problems but the most serious problem is Carrot Fly.
Carrot fly maggots mostly causes damage to carrots, but can also affect the roots of other crops such as parsnip, celery and parsley. They hatch from eggs laid in late May–June and in August-September. So those are the months when your crop is at danger.
The fly is attracted by the smell of carrots, which can be particularly strong when you have been thinning them. It is most active during the day laying its eggs in the soil near the carrots. The newly-hatched larvae feed on the fine roots then bore into the tap root.
Two, or in some areas three, generations of carrot fly can develop between late spring and autumn and the fly overwintering as larvae or pupae in the soil .
To avoid damage from carrot fly you should;
- Thin your crop late in the day and immediately remove the thinnings
- Intercrop with onions to disguise the smell of the carrots (may work)
- Build a vertical barrier around the crop or plant in a high container as the fly tends to stay near the ground but not always.
- But the best method of prevention is to cover the crop with horticultural fleece or fine mesh like enviromesh.
Growing Your Own Carrots
The soil for carrots should be fairly deep and fertile but free from lumps of manure and large stones. Sandy soil best for carrots but they can be grown in heavier soils that have been improved by the addition of sand.
Draw a shallow drill half an inch (1-2 cm) deep and sow very thinly, preferably covering the drill with sand. Allow 6 inches (15cm) between rows. After germination, thin the seedlings down to about one carrot every 2-3 inches (5-8cm).
You can also scatter the seeds thinly on the entire surface – this is especially suitable when growing in containers – and cover thinly with sand. Thin the seedlings to a spacing of 3inches (8cm) in each direction . Larger thinnings are good to use raw in salads.
Vitamin Content of Carrots
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium. They also contain vitamins B6 and C, folic acid, thiamine, and magnesium.