How to Grow Carrots in an Organic Garden
There’s nothing like fresh home grown carrots. They are extraordinarily crisp and succulent. Carrots for the home garden come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Most of the time carrots store well in the ground over the winter, so harvest of fresh carrots throughout the season is possible.
Tips for Growing Organic Carrots
- Carrots will develop long straight roots in loose, deep, rock free, sandy loam soil.
- In clay soils, grow short, stumpy varieties of carrots or grow in raised beds. Improve the texture of clay soils by adding organic amendments such as humus or sand.
- Carrots like slightly acidic soil that is moderately fertile. They will benefit from 1/2 inch of compost dug into the soil before planting, but do not over fertilize.
- Grow carrots in a row, or broadcast over the bed. Sow 2 to 3 seeds per inch.
- Keep the soil moist until the carrot seeds start to grow. When the seedlings are about 3 inches high, thin to 3 inches apart and lightly mulch them.
- Radishes are a good crop to interplant with carrots. They help break up the soil and are ready to harvest before the carrots mature, so they won’t steal nutrients, water, or space.
- Carrot flavor improves with maturity. Wait until they are mature to harvest, but don’t wait too long. They will turn woody.
- When ready to harvest, loosen the soil around the carrots with a garden fork, and then pull the roots from the soil.
Organic Carrots Growing Facts
- Planting Site: Plant carrots in full sun. The soil should be deep, loose, rock free, hold moisture, and amended with organic matter.
- When to Plant: Direct seed carrots, they do not transplant well. Carrots tolerate cold well, so plant in early spring, a couple of weeks before the last frost. Plant again in the fall.
- Spacing: Space seeds 1/2 inch apart, 1/2 inch deep, in rows that are 12 inches apart. Thin to 3 inch spacing when seedlings are 3 inches high.
- Germination: Carrot seeds can take up to 2 weeks to germinate. The soil must be kept moist during this period.
- Care: When the carrot seedlings are up and thinned, apply mulch to help retain consistent moisture.
- Harvesting: Harvest carrots when they are fully colored, yet tender. Loosen the soil around the carrots with a garden fork, and then pull the roots from the soil.
- Days to Harvest: Most varieties can be harvested in about 50 days, but some varieties take up to 70.
- Carrot rust fly larvae can be a problem. They tunnel into roots and leave red holes behind. To control, apply beneficial nematodes in the spring or grow under row covers. Other problems are maggots and blight. Many pests and diseases can be avoided by rotating crops to different spots each year.
- Exposed shoulders can turn green and bitter. Cover shoulders with mulch.
- Twisted and forked roots develop in clay or rocky soil. This condition can also happen in soil that is too high in nitrogen.
- Cracked roots can develop when dry conditions are followed by heavy rain. To avoid this, do not allow soil to dry out. Keep it consistently moist.