Just as in the local grocery store, carrots range from long, slender and tapered to short, stubby and almost beet-shaped carrots. When you think of all the sizes, carrots are amongst the most versatile home vegetables to grow and you can take your pick of the varieties of seeds – just polish up your green thumb if you can.
Whether you know this or not, or for that matter, if you do know this small fact, whether you want to admit it or not, carrots grow best in rock-free, well-drained soil. I usually work about a 3 inch layer of organic matter (compost) into the soil. Please never use manure – too much nitrogen can cause misshapen or forked carrots.
If you want sweeter carrots, work a thin layer of wood ash into the soil – this adds potassium which then makes the carrots sweeter.
I usually plant carrots as soon as the soil is warm enough to be able to work in the soil. Although this next statement may sound like I am contradicting myself, truly, I am not – sometimes words do that to the speaker without regard as to how it may sound. Usually carrots germinate faster in warmer soil, but carrots do grow better in cooler weather. Due to that small fact of the cooler weather, carrots harvested in the fall on a cloudy day preferably are generally the sweetest tasting. However, please keep in mind that carrots can be sown until about 60 days before your first hard frost, so the time frame for seeding carrots is pretty broad.
I usually make my furrows or rows about a inch deep and about 18 rows apart. I try (unsuccessfully most of the time) to sow my seeds about a inch apart. However, I heard of a new method of sowing those small carrot seeds and if this new method works, I’ll continue to use it in the years to come. After I have sown my seeds, I cover the rows with about a inch of topsoil or peat moss.
Now that the carrot seeds have been sown, I keep the soil moist – if the soil is so hard, it is hard for the new seedlings to come through that hard layer.
I try to keep my carrots weed free (the operative word here is try), especially before the carrots get too big. When the tops are about a inch high, I try to thin the plants to about 3 inches apart to allow for better growth. These small carrot plants can choke themselves out if they are not given adequate room to grow and expand.
About 6 weeks after I have planted my home gardening carrot seeds, I add about 3 or 4 inches of mulch along the side of my plants to keep the soil moist. This mulch also protects the roots of the carrot plants from exposure to the sun, which causes a condition called green shoulder that makes the carrots bitter and toxic.
When the carrot tops are about 6 inches above the soil, I side dress the rows with fish emulsion. Now, I think we are all finished “doctoring” our carrots so that we can eat sweet, home grown vegetables.
Please note the sun notes above – the more sunshine you have to warm that soil, the better it is. You also want sunshine in order to enhance the watering you are doing on a regular basis. However, the sunshine should never touch the roots of these plants or you may have a problem.
For many years, I never had success with growing carrots in my home vegetable garden; now that I pay attention to the plants themselves, I have a rate of success that is second to none. Yes, it is time-consuming, but believe me, it is well worth your efforts, especially when you are able to eat what you have produced in your own vegetable garden.
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The blog posts and articles are ongoing and a great source of information. What you thought was impossible is not really impossible!
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