Growing Organic Carrots

Carrots are hardy cool season crop and can be planted in the garden as soon as the soil can be prepared in the spring.

Sow carrot seeds directly about two to three weeks before the last expected frost

Plant every 2 weeks until the temperature reaches 80 degrees F to provide a continuous supply of fresh carrots. When temperatures cool in autumn, plant another crop for winter harvesting.

Choose a site that gets full sun carrots will tolerate light shade but won’t do as well

Remove all rocks and other debris – even a small twig could injure a carrot’s growing tip, stunting the root or making it fork. Dig to a depth of at least 12 inches. Add plenty of organic matter; it will lighten heavy soils and increase the moisture retention of sandy ones. Carrots grow sweeter and less fibrous in soil that remains moist.

Sow carrot seeds 1/4″-1/2″ deep, 3/4″-1″ apart Make early sowings shallow to capture warmth from the sun; sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface, tamp them gently and cover them with a thin layer of finely sifted compost. If planting later, when the soil has warmed up, plant seeds between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep

Germination can take 10 days or more. Try soaking seeds in water for 6 hours before you plant them.

Thin carrots before the tops become entwined to a spacing of between 3/4″-4″ depending upon the root size desired. Young carrot seedlings are weak and grow slowly. It is essential to keep weeds under control for the first few weeks.

Carrots require relatively large amounts of moisture and are not tolerant of drought. Prolonged hot weather in the later stages of development may not only retard carrot growth but may result in an undesirable strong flavor and coarseness in the roots.

At the other extreme, carrots exposed to prolonged temperatures below 55°F tend to grow longer roots and become more slender and paler in color than expected. The ideal air temperature for carrots is between 60°F-70°F.

Fertilize – Spray young plants once with compost tea. Avoid manure and other fertilizers high in nitrogen; they’ll encourage top growth at the expense of good root development. If your carrots turn out with a branch or two, it means they’re getting too much nitrogen

Carrots exposed to the sun turn green and bitter-tasting. To keep them orange and sweet, make sure the roots stay completely covered with soil

Carrots can be harvested when the roots are at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Under usual conditions, carrot tops may not be strong enough to withstand actually being pulled from the ground and digging helps to remove the roots without damage. Finger carrots are usually ready to harvest within 50 to 60 days. Other varieties should be allowed to grow until they have reached a diameter of at least 3/4 inch (about 60 to 70 days after planting). They then may be harvested over a 3 to 4 week period.

Ideal storage for carrots is 32°F and 99% relative humidity. Mature topped carrots can be stored 7 to 9 months.