Grow Your Own Carrots

Reader Contribution by Erin Sheehan
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After two failed attempts, we finally seem to have landed on the right formula for growing carrots. Carrots have been one of the very few vegetables we buy so we’ve been trying hard to figure out how to successfully grow them. Finally, this year we did it.

Growing carrots is straightforward, but it does take attention and care. Starting with loose soil is key. In past years our soil had too much clay so the carrots had to work too hard to expand. This year we put them in raised beds where the soil is loose as can be. You don’t need a lot of fertilizer with carrots, in fact too much fertilizer can cause overgrowth of foliage and “hairy” carrots, which have small roots coming out of them.

Carrot seeds are so small they can be a bit of a challenge to plant. If you do a search on this topic you’ll find lots of advice about using seed tape, newspaper, pelleted seeds, and other methods. After our first failure with pelleted seeds, I gave up on that method and just overplanted.

Carrots take a while to germinate – as long as two weeks, even. They can be planted early, as much as three weeks before the last expected frost. You can succession plant them up until about three months prior to your first fall frost.

Once you do plant the seeds, it’s important to be vigilant about watering and weeding. It helps to mark the rows so you know where to water and weed. It’s easier than you’d think to lose track of where your seeds are while you’re waiting for them to emerge. Carrots must be watered regularly. They also don’t compete well with weeds, and you’ll be spending a lot of time in those first few weeks weeding around them.

Once your carrots have emerged, you want to start doing a bit of thinning. As the carrots get bigger you can even eat your thinnings. Crowded carrots will never get big, so you want to make sure they have room to grow. Carrots do not like to dry out, so make sure to keep up on your watering.

Carrots take about 70 days from planting to harvesting. Somehow ours were ready early this year – we harvested after 65 days and they were very ready. We even had a few flower on us!

We harvested 20 pounds last week. I planted another crop in the same spot. I hope we get another 20 or so pounds this fall!