carrot questions

dab07April 26, 2012

I'm about to plant carrots. I'd like clarification on a few things I've read. Our average frost date was April 15 (two weeks ago). I've read that they can be sown as early as peas, i.e. as soon as the ground can be worked, and also that they can be sown every two weeks for staggered harvesting. (I'm not too late, am I??)

1. So what would be the ideal range of planting dates? Early March through June, July, or what?

2. I'd like to plant a lot for storage too. When should these be planted?

3. I'm confused by reading that carrots get tough if left in the ground once they're mature, but also that you can leave them in the ground and mulch well to store over the winter. To avoid storing tough carrots, when should they be sown?

Any other general tips on growing carrots? Thank you!

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Carrots are a slow crop. Slow to germinate and slow to reach maturity. You need to allow time for them. Fortunately, they aren't as sensitive to heat as, say, spinach, so you can sow them throughout most of the year.

They tend to split if overmature, and definitely taste best when younger.

The seeds are tiny, and they absolutely require thinning. Consider either seed tape or pelleted seeds.

Soil is important. Carrots hate a heavy soil, or stones. Unless you have a deep sandy soil, the Nantes or Danvers "half-long" types are the best choice for most gardeners. I personally don't consider the ultra-short varieties bred for heavy soil to be worth growing.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Interesting, thanks for the feedback on the ultra-short varieties. The bed I wanted to use for carrots was almost entirely clay and rocks! I spent days removing rocks and amending the soil with peat moss, compost, leaf mold and rock powders. You can stick your arm in down to your elbow -- it's got an incredible texture now. Oh, and I hand sifted it all through a riddle!

But all that took time, so I didn't plant them early. Good to know it's not too late, and that I can plant them throughout the summer. That way I can plant my storage carrots late enough to harvest them before they get too old.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:49PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I plant carrots in mid January this year, in my high tunnels. I covered the ground with row cover and kept them moist. They came up really nice. Here is a picture from April 6th.

They are about knee high now and are getting ready to pull. I usually plant the shorter season carrots, Napoli, Nelson, Yaya, Mokum. I have had good luck with theses.

I also planted another planting in early February. They are doing well too.

To plant carrots in the fall, I plant mine in late July 25-August 5th. I did plant a late planting in September, but they overwintered and took off in January/Feb. I would recommend the earlier planting date.

I overwinter carrots in my high tunnels all winter. I try to have carrots from September to June. You could be successful with low tunnels. Winter carrots are the sweetest treats ever! I would plant Napoli for these winter carrots.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 2:03PM
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It's not too late to sow carrots. The key will be keeping the soil moist until they germinate.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Jrslick, lots of questions! What is the flowering plant growing among the carrots? And why? Is it a clover to suppress weeds? Does a root mat develop that interferes with the carrots? When do you seed it, whatever it is? How close are the carrot rows?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 8:19PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


Well the flowering plant is Henbit, it is a weed. It isn't suppose to be there. I took the picture before I got it all weeded out. It is a weed that germinates in cool soil, same as the carrots.

There are 8 rows in a 42 to 48 inch bed. I put about 5 inches between each row.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:25AM
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A good cheap way to put in carrot seed is to use Elmer's school glue and paper towels. Sit at the kitchen table and place 16 dots nicely spaced on the paper towel. Drop one or two seeds per glue dot. When dry, place paper towel on soil seed side up. Cover with some sand or light dirt. Keep moist. Mostly, I've grown Burpee short and sweet. My carrots are perfectly spaced and little thinning required. I have clay and never was able to grow carrots. Now I do square foot gardening in raised beds with Mel's mix. It is a thing of beauty.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:13PM
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I just scatter the Carrot seed. It works :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:03PM
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That's an interesting idea, keski. I don't grow a ton, so i just spaced the seeds approximately and expect to thin.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Also after you plant carrot seed cover the row with old carpet. carpet side up. That way when you water them you don't wash the seed away. This also helps keep the soil moist. Just look under the carpet to see when they start to germinate. At the first site of germination water them good and remove the carpet. You can also use a long board to cover the row with. But I like the carpet better. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:45AM
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    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:02PM
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I mix carrot / radish seed together and plant . The radish germinate quickly , break up the ground to allow the carrots to emerge easily , and the radish also provide shade for carrot seedlings . I begin to harvest radishes which makes way for the carrots . It works .

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:13AM
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