The Q&A Archives: Carrots aren't sweet

Question: My carrots last year grew fine and had plenty of water, but they tasted bland - not sweet at all. What happened to them? Eric Kurth Eureka Springs, AR

Answer: When carrot roots develop during high soil temperatures (above 80 F), the sugars don't develop properly, says Craig Andersen, vegetable specialist at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Carrots in Arkansas have the best flavor when grown as a fall crop, he explains. I'd suggest seeding carrots in mid-August in a location that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sun a day. To help the seeds sprout, keep the soil moist and shaded while they're germinating. Once up, thin the carrots twice - when they're one month old and again when they're two months old - to a final spacing of three inches. Keep them well watered and, if any freezing temperatures are expected, mulch them with hay or straw, says Andersen. You can usually start harvesting carrots by mid-October and continue through November. If you want to plant in spring, start as early as mid-February, protecting the plantings with floating row covers, Andersen says. If you plant quick-maturing varieties like Thumbelina,you should get a crop in before the soil warms in spring.

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