By National Gardening Association Editors, June 23, 2008
- Choose a variety that matches your soil conditions.
- Stagger your carrot seeding starting 3 to 4 weeks before the average last spring frost date.
- Plant additional areas at 3-week intervals as the soil temperatures rise.
Mix 1 pound of 5-10-10 or its equivalent into every 50 square feet of garden area.
Work the carrot seedbed well with a tiller or hoe to break up any soil clumps. Remove all rocks and stones.
Sprinkle a thin layer of wood ashes over the seedbed to add potassium to the soil for sweeter carrots . Work the ashes into the top 4 inches of the bed. Then rake the beds smooth.
- Make furrows 1/4 inch deep, spaced 4 inches apart.
- Put a 1/4 inch layer of sifted compost or peat moss in the bottom of each furrow and sow the seeds, about 3 per inch, on top. Cover with a 1/2 inch layer of the same material.
- Lightly mulch the seedbed to retain moisture and prevent soil crusting.
- Thin carrots to stand 3 inches apart between plants.
- Weed carefully and cultivate lightly near the plants.
- Add mulch about 6 weeks after sowing to prevent exposing the roots to the sun, which gives them a bitter taste. When the carrot tops are about 6 inches tall, side-dress with a sprinkling of a natural fertilizer such as dried cow manure. If the bed is mulched heavily, use a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion, seaweed, or other general-purpose plant food.
- Carrots are rarely bothered by pests. See our article Summer's Bad Guys by Charlie Nardozzi for controls of common carrot pests such as wireworms.
- Carrots are generally ready for harvest in 2 to 3 months, when they are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Leave them in the ground until you need them.
- Drench the bed with water for easy harvesting.
- Pull the carrots by grabbing the greens at their crowns and gently tugging with a twisting motion.
- Harvest carrots for the root cellar after the first hard frosts but before the ground freezes.