People say I am crazy for thinking that carrots are the reason that I am the only person in my family not blind as a bat…after eating all of my carrots (plus my brother’s) as a child and loving the vegetable in all forms today, I can still read the eye chart in its entirety from 25-30 feet away. Scoff if you will non believers, but it is true!
Carrots do best in raised beds filled with well-draining, fertile topsoil that contains plenty of organic matter. Remove rocks and debris from past crops to clear the path for maturing carrots and prevent misshapen roots. If you have clay soil, double-dig your carrot bed to loosen and aerate the soil, and plant Nantes, Chantenay, or ball type carrots, because their shorter roots grow well even in heavier soils. I love carrots and grow two varieties (Adelaide Baby Carrots and the French Babette).
I am not a big fan of planting then thinning so I plant in square foot patches. 16 carrot seeds per square feet is excellent spacing and you don’t waste seeds!
Watering: Carrots need consistent soil moisture from the time you plant until harvest. Seedlings stressed by low moisture grow slowly and produce lower yields. Dry soil causes carrots to develop uneven surfaces, yet too much moisture encourages small, hairy-looking roots to form. If your carrot bed happens to dry out, remoisten the soil over a period of days, because sudden saturation causes carrots to split. Use an organic mulch around your carrots to retain moisture.
My soil has a lot of organic matter in it so I should not need to fertilize much. However, since I am quite anal about things, I did use liquid fish emulsion in my hose fertilizer container that dilutes the mixture 1/10th. It seems to perk everything up…I did this twice this season and do not plant to add more fertilizer until it is time to compost in the fall
White maggots or tunnels filled with brown, crumbly material are the work of carrot rust flies. Keep these at bay with your Veggie Farm peppermint/garlic spray as much as possible. And watch out for dark, yellow-bordered spots on leaves since this signals that you might have fungal leaf blight. Stunted, light yellow leaves and woody roots with tufts of white side roots are signs of aster yellows.
Harvest carrots as soon as they’re big enough to eat. Hand-pull carrots to avoid damaging their roots. Extend their storage life by cutting off all but 1 inch of the leaves and stem. Store carrots in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, or layer them in a box with damp sand and store them in a cool room or root cellar.