The Q&A Archives: Growing Sweet Carrots

Question: The e-mail today suggested to leave carrots in the ground to sweeten them and it is ok to harvest now. I dug mine a week ago. We have all but given up on carrots because they are bitter and barely tasteful instead of sweet. Is there anything I need to do to the soil, is there special fertilizer, do they need alkaline or acid conditions? I use commonly sold seeds such as Burpee - Nantes or half long etc.

Answer: Carrots are not terribly difficult to grow, doing well in a deeply prepared and friable soil within a range of pH from 5.5 to 7.0 and with at least average fertility. In my experience the secret to sweetness is in the variety (some are sweeter but it sounds like you have been selecting those already), the age and the amount of moisture they receive while they are growing. You want to keep them growing quickly and when they reach a larger size, cut back a bit on the moisture so they don't split. The quick growth keeps them sweet and juicy rather than woody. The flavor peaks when they turn orange and then lasts for about three weeks (longer in the fall) so keep that in mind, too -- don't leave the early crops in the ground too long.

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