Carrots – Underused and Abused

Late summer / early fall planting do well in milder climates. Carrots can be planted every 2 to 3 weeks until about 12 weeks before the date of the average first autumn frost. Where winters are mild grow carrots in autumn and winter. Carrots require from 50 to 80 days to reach maturity. Small so called baby carrots can be harvested in about 30 days.

Carrots are hardy biennials grown as annuals. Depending on variety, carrots can be tapered and cylindrical, short and fat, round, or finger sized. Some carrots grow to 10 inches long while others are much shorter. Carrots are usually orange, but colors can vary from red to yellow to purple. Shorter varieties are a good choice for heavy soil clay soils. Long types require loose, loamy soil.

Grow carrots in full sun. Carrots will grow more slowly in partial shade. Plant carrots in loose, well worked soil. Dig soil to 12 inches before planting and add aged compost to the planting beds. Remove clods, rocks, and roots from planting beds. Carrots will split, fork, and become malformed if they grow into obstructions. Carrots prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Carrots are a cool weather crop best grown in spring, early summer, and autumn. Sow carrots in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the last average frost date in spring.
Succession crops can be planted every 2 to 3 weeks until about 12 weeks before the date of the average first frost in autumn. Where winters are mild grow carrots in autumn and winter. Carrots require a soil temperature of about 40°F to germinate. Germination will be slow in cold soil.

Sow carrot seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep about 1 – 1 1/2 inch apart, thin carrots to about 4 inches apart in wide beds and about 2 inches apart in rows. Space rows 12 to 24 inches apart. Wide row planting of carrots gives a good yield form a small area. In warm, dry weather sow carrot seed deeper than 1/2 inch. When all else fails read the planting instruction on your seed package.

Keep carrots evenly moist to ensure quick growth. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Reduce watering as roots approach maturity, too much moisture at the end of the growing season will cause roots to crack. Add aged compost at planting time before sowing and again as a side dressing at mid season. carrots are heavy feeders of potassium needed for good root growth.

Companion plants for carrots are chives, onions, leeks, tomatoes, peas, rosemary. Carrots and dill do not play well together.

Carrots can be left in the ground until ready to use as long as the ground does not freeze. Hint: Before your first freeze cover your carrot crop with a thick layer of straw or other light weight mulch.
Carrots will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 months. Blanched carrots will keep in the freezer for up to 6+ months.

‘Purple Haze’
Purple with orange flesh

‘Atomic Red’
Red skin with orange/red flesh.

An orange fast-growing Nantes hybrid, ideal for very early sowings.

A very sweet carrot with uniform yellow roots.

‘Paris Market’
Round with great flavor (below). Very fast to mature and grows well in shallow or stony soil. But don’t let them get too big or they will split.

‘Amsterdam Forcing 2’
Orange with small cylindrical roots.

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6 responses to “Carrots – Underused and Abused

  1. I managed to get my carrots to grow a good couple of months before the last frost date. But then frost for us is rare and it only gets to freezing point for a few hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grin… lucky you, when winter sets in we often have a month or more of freezing and lower in the low 20’s degrees F.

      Happy gardening


      • Yes, every cloud has a silver lining 😊…. considering our summer would probably be chilly by your standards (hasn’t stopped my lettuce bolting, though).


  2. We use carrots (along with radishes, turnips, and other root crops) as “soil busters” in our garden. After a few years of getting gnarly roots, they loosen up the soil, let the organic matter mix with the clay, move the rocks skyward, and feed our goats. Then we can use that garden area for other plants. Techniques for gardening in the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tips. I’ve done a second planting already, and will probably do one more.


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