How To Grow Carrots In Your Garden
Carrots are an adaptable crop in the home garden, and produce wonderful produce when grown correctly. Growing carrots in the warm northern areas of Australia, allows you to sow carrot seeds almost all year round, except for mid summer. In temperate zones, the best time for planting is from July through to March, and in cold districts from August through to February.
Carrots are an easy crop to grow, and can be successfully grown in a wide range of soil. They grow best in deep, crumbly, well drained soil, which allows the roots to expand and grow quickly. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, you can improve the condition of your soil before planting by adding manure and garden compost. Growing carrots is best achieved in raised garden beds, 15-20cm above ground level, as water can drain away from the root area. Carrot seeds should be sown direct.
Your garden beds should be well prepared so that the soil is firm, but has a fine crumbly surface. Scatter the carrot seed raising mix on to the soil, and make shallow drills about 20-30cm apart and 1cm deep. Make the drill by firmly pressing the rake handle into the soil. Sow seeds thinly along the drill, then cover them with compost, vermiculite or a crumbly sandy soil.
TIP: Using a light mulch or dry grass clippings spread over the top of the garden bed will help prevent the soil from drying out, and keep the weeds down – whilst still allowing the carrot seeds to push through the soil without difficulty.
Ensure to keep the garden bed damp, but not water-logged, until seedlings emerge. The time it takes for the seeds to germinate depends greatly on the temperature of the soil. After 10 days the seedlings should start to appear. Once seedlings are approximately 4-5cm in height, thin them apart by removing the smaller of the plants. After a few weeks when they reach 15cm in height, thin them out again to approximately 5-8cm apart.
Water the bed regularly to encourage the development of large tender roots. Additional fertilizer is rarely needed, but it may be necessary to apply a water soluble fertilizer if your plants are slow to develop. When growing carrots, most varieties will take from 16-20 weeks from sowing to harvest, however baby carrots can be pulled in 10-12 weeks from planting.
Carrots will keep well in a ventilated cupboard for several weeks, but can be stored for longer in the vegetable draw of your refridgerator. Before storing your carrots, cutt the leaves off just above the crown, taking care not to damage the crown in the process.