9 Tips for Having a Bountiful Carrot Harvest
It’s a very busy time of year, and there is LOADS going on in the garden. If you’re growing carrots at home (seriously, it’s NOT as hard you think), I’ve got some great tips from Tina Martino on how to maximise your harvest.
Many gardeners put off growing carrots, assuming that these early spring vegetables are for those with more experience. Root vegetables, including potatoes and turnips, seem overwhelming to newbies, but they are one of the simplest things to grow. They require minimal maintenance.
In the middle of summer, there is nothing like pulling up fresh carrots to grill or to grate in your salad. Cooked or raw, homegrown carrots are full of nutrients and taste delicious. If you follow the nine easy tips listed below, you will have a bountiful carrot harvest to last you all summer and preserve for the winter.
- Plant the Right Time: Carrots are one of the first crops you plant into your garden beds. They can handle the cooler weather. On average, you want daytime temperatures to be around 75 degrees F, and the night temperatures should be around 55 degrees. The best time to plant is two weeks before your last frost date. If you want to grow carrots for a fall harvest, sow the seeds 10 to 12 weeks before your first frost date.
- Make Sure the Soil is Correct: One of the easiest ways to have a bad carrot harvest it to have incorrect soil. Carrots grow very well in soil that is light, airy and not compacted. I have the most success when I grow carrots in raised beds or containers. Rake through the soil before planting to remove any trash, bark or rocks. Anything that stands in the way of your carrot as it grows will stop its growth. Ideally, your soil should be sandy and well-draining.
- Start the Seeds in the Beds: You could, technically, start your carrot seeds indoors. However, just like zucchini plants, carrots hate their roots to be disturbed. For carrots, the root is the vegetable. Some gardeners started their carrots indoors and successfully transfer them outside. I always opt to avoid angering my plants and sow the seeds directly outside.
- Plant the Carrot Seeds Spaced: Once you see carrot seeds, you’ll immediately understand why this is so difficult. However, it is important to give it your best shot at sowing the seeds around two inches apart. The seeds should be around a quarter inch deep. The rows should be 10 inches apart. Correctly spacing carrots help to ensure they have enough space to grow. Crowded carrots won’t result in a fantastic harvest.
- Keep The Soil Moist: In my experience, carrots can take longer than expected to germinate. Chances are you will assume you killed off all of the seeds before you see any pop out of the ground. On average, it will take 12 to 15 days to see anything sprout.
If you want your seeds to germinate, which you do, one of the tricks is to keep the soil moist. Don’t heavily water on the first day and let them dry out a few days later. You have to water every day until they pop out of the ground.
- Thin Out the Seeds: After waiting for eternity, you need to thin out of the plants. Wait until the greens are a few inches tall. Don’t yank them out of the ground. I prefer to use scissors and clip them. It feels wrong to thin out the carrot seeds you worked so hard to grow, but you won’t have a bountiful harvest without this painful process.
- Mulch Around the Sprouts: Once you have thinned out the seedlings, it is a great idea to add around three to four inches of mulch around the sprouts. Mulch plays an important role in gardening. It will add nutrients to the soil and also helps to retain moisture. Remember, the soil and carrots have to stay moist!
- Destroy the Weeds: Carrot sprouts and weeds don’t mix well together. In the first few weeks, carrot sprouts are weak, and weeds easily overrun and take away vital nutrients. You need to take care to weed your garden bed frequently. Don’t try to go the easy way and use an anti-weed fertilizer or weed killers. Unfortunately, these are likely to damage the carrot sprouts.
- Plant Friends Nearby: There are some plants that pair well with carrots, such as onions, rosemary and safe. These beneficial plants deter the carrot fly. The aromatic smell of leeks also stops other insects, preventing them from laying their eggs on nearby plants.
Planting carrots don’t have to feel like a science. Most importantly, you need always to pick the right time to plant carrots. With patience and daily watering, your seeds will germinate, and a bountiful harvest will result in a few months. Remember to thin the seedlings and mulch around the sprouts. Take care to remove the weeds around the carrots, and you are sure to have the best carrot harvest.
About Tina Martino:
Her passion is gardening. Along with her husband and children, each year they grow a garden large enough to provide their family of five with over half of their needed produce. Besides vegetables and a small berry patch, she also focus her attention on beautifying their home with strategically placed flowers, herbs, and flowering plants. Gardening is more than just a hobby; it is a way of life.