- Carrot Care Must-Knows
- Planting Carrots
- Harvest Tips
- More Varieties of Carrots
- Garden Plans For Carrot
- Recommended Varieties
- When To Plant
- Spacing & Depth
- Questions & Answers
- Selection & Storage
- Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
- Preparation & Serving
- Home Preservation
- Varieties of carrots
- Seeds or seedlings?
- When can I plant seeds?
- Remove large rocks from soil
- Find a sunny position
- Try growing in a container
- Water well
- Rotate beds by planting after leafy greens
- Extra fertilising isn’t necessary
- Companion plant with onions
- Harvesting your produce
- Why are my carrots forking?
- Why do my carrots have cracked and split skin?
- Where can I buy seeds?
- Carrot ‘Danvers Half Long’
Homegrown carrots boast a taste and crunch that is vastly different from their grocery counterparts. Enjoy the snappy crunch of this vegetable’s tap root when eaten raw. Cook carrots (their sweetness intensifies) to create dishes that dance the line between sweet and savory. Full sun and loose, well-drained soil will produce baskets of carrots throughout the growing season.
Carrot Care Must-Knows
Carrots grow best in full sun, regular and plentiful moisture (at least one inch of water or rain a week), and well-drained soil that is deep, loose, and free of stones and heavy clumps that can distort the roots. If you must use clay soil, amend it with compost, manure, and top soil. If your traditional, in-ground planting spots present challenges, plant carrots in 10 to 12-inch raised beds or in large containers filled with quality garden loam or potting soil. Water regularly as raised beds and containers dry out faster than traditional planting beds.
Plant carrot seeds directly into the garden, as it is difficult to transplant vegetables with taproots. Work the soil to make sure it is free of stones and clods of clay. Once the danger of frost is past, sow seeds ¼ inch deep and ½ inch apart in rows that are 18 inches apart. Carrot seeds are tiny, so don’t get overly concerned about spacing. You will thin the plants after they emerge. (If desired, use seed tape to get evenly spaced plants and straight rows, and reduce the need for thinning.)
Keep the seedbed evenly moist by watering every couple of days until the seeds germinate (about 14 days in 60-degree soil). When seedlings are 2 inches tall or less, thin plants to 1- to 4- inch spacing, depending on the size of the taproot desired. The thinning process allows the remaining carrots to grow larger without becoming misshapen. When thinning, cut rather than pull to avoid disturbing nearby plants.
Once the carrot seedlings are established (at least 2 inches tall), spread a layer of finely shredded bark mulch around them to conserve soil moisture and keep the soil cool. Leave about two or three inches around each plant free of mulch to prevent rot and mildew. For a continuous harvest of carrots into fall, sow seeds every three weeks until midsummer. Expect your carrots to take 60 to 80 days to mature. Prevent diseases by planting carrots in a different spot every year.
See our ultimate guide to growing carrots.
Begin pulling carrots as soon as they develop full color. For winter storage, wait to harvest until after the tops have been exposed to several frosts; the cold will increase their sweetness. You can also overwinter carrots in the ground by mulching them heavily with straw. Dig them throughout winter or in early spring before new growth starts.
Find 34 delicious carrot recipes here!
More Varieties of Carrots
‘Danvers 126’ carrot
This is a heat-resistant variety with tapered, thin roots 7 to 8 inches long. 75 days
‘Imperator 58’ carrot
This carrot bears sweet, tender roots that grow best in loose soils where they can grow to 9 inches long. 70 days
This variety produces large yields. It is good for juicing and storage. 73 days
This carrot is good for growing in heavy soils. Its 2-inch long roots are good for baking. 60 days
‘Purple Haze’ carrot
‘Purple Haze’ carrot offers purple skins and can grow to 12 inches long in sandy soils. It has an orange core, and its color fades with cooking. 70 days
‘Red Cored Chantenay’ carrot
This is an heirloom variety with deep orange color from skin to core. It has wide shoulders that taper to a point. 65 days
Find 34 delicious carrot recipes here!
Garden Plans For Carrot
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Carrot is a hardy, cool-season biennial that is grown for the thickened root it produces in its first growing season. Although carrots can endure summer heat in many areas, they grow best when planted in early spring. Midsummer plantings, that mature quickly in cool fall weather, produce tender, sweet “baby” carrots that are much prized. Carrots are eaten both raw and cooked and they can be stored for winter use. They are rich in carotene (the source of vitamin A) and high in fiber and sugar content.
Orbit (58 days to harvest, good color, few off-types, best harvested at the size of a 50 cent piece)
Thumbelina (60 days; 1992 AAS winner; round roots; good for planting in containers and in heavy, shallow or rocky soil)
Baby Spike (52 days; 3 to 4 inch roots, 1/2 inch thick; excellent internal color; tender; holds small size well)
Little Finger (65 days; tiny tender roots; 5 inch roots, 1/2 inch thick; golden orange, sweet and crisp)
Minicor (55 days; slender fingerling carrots; colors early; uniform, cylindrical, blunt tip; good flavor)
Short ‘n Sweet (68 days; rich, sweet flavor; 4 inch roots, broad at shoulder, tapered to a point; good for heavy or poor soil)
Red-Cored Chantenay (70 days; heavy yield; good flavor; short, thick roots, broad at the shoulder, tapered to blunt tip)
Royal Chantenay (70 days; broad-shouldered, tapered roots; bright orange; good for heavy or shallow soils)
Danvers Half-Long (75 days; uniform, 7 to 8 inch roots tapered to very blunt end; sweet, tender)
Danvers 126 (75 days; heavier yield than Danvers; smooth roots; tops withstand heat).
Bolero (hybrid-70 days; 7 to 8 inch roots, uniformly thick, tapered slightly to blunt tip; superior resistance to foliage disease)
Ingot (hybrid-70 days; 8 inch roots, 1-1/2 inches thick; indistinct core; deep orange color; strong tops; extremely sweet)
Nantes Coreless (68 days; orange-red; small core, medium top)
Scarlet Nantes (70 days; bright orange, slightly tapered, 6 inch roots; crisp, tender and flavorful; standard for high quality carrots)
Sweetness (hybrid-63 days; sweet and crunchy; cylindrical, 6 inch roots, 1 inch thick)
Touchon (70 days; interior, exterior bright orange; 7 inch roots, nearly coreless)
Avenger (hybrid-70 days; extra fancy; slightly blunt, tapered roots, 9 to 10 inches long)
Gold Pak (76 days; 8 inch roots, 1-1/2 inches thick; sweet, tender, as coreless as any; good for juice)
Imperator 58 (68 days; smooth, fine-grained, long, tapered roots; standard long, thin type)
Legend (hybrid-65 days; high yield; smooth, uniform, 9 to 11 inch roots, 1-1/2 inches at shoulder; tolerant to cracking)
Orlando Gold (hybrid-78 days; uniform, long, tapered shape; excellent flavor, color; 30 percent more carotene)
Tendersweet (75 days; long, tapered roots; rich orange color; sweet, coreless)
Belgium White (75 days; mild flavor; long, tapered, white roots; productive, vigorous)
When To Plant
Carrots are usually planted with other frost tolerant vegetables as soon as the soil mellows in the spring. They may be planted earlier in gardens with sandy soil. The soil should be plowed and prepared to a depth of 8 to 9 inches to allow full development of the carrot roots and the seedbed should be worked uniformly to break up clumps and clods that prevent penetration of the roots. Varieties with extremely long roots (Imperator and Tendersweet) usually are recommended only for home gardens with deep, sandy soil. Excess organic debris worked into the soil just before planting also may affect root penetration, causing forked and twisted roots.
Spacing & Depth
Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep (no more than two or three seeds per inch) in early spring. Later sowings may be planted 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep when the soil is dryer and warmer. Space rows 12 to 18 inches apart. A single radish seed planted every 6 to 12 inches can mark the row. Germination requires as long as two weeks and the seedlings may not emerge uniformly. If heavy rains occur after sowing, packing the soil surface, no seedlings may emerge. Thin the seedlings when they are about one inch tall to no more than three seedlings per inch for finger carrots; one or two seedlings per inch for carrots that will be harvested young; and one seedling per 1 to 2 inches for larger varieties like Danvers and Chantenay that will be allowed to develop to full size and be harvested mature for canning or freezing.
Carrots germinate best in warm, moist soil. Covering the row with clear polyethylene film warms the soil and conserves moisture. Remove the film immediately when seedlings appear. To assure germination of successive plantings during the late spring and summer months, it may be necessary to supply water by sprinkling. In the heat of summer, some shade may be necessary to keep the tiny seedlings from burning off at the soil line.
Young carrot seedlings are weak and grow slowly. It is essential to keep weeds under control for the first few weeks. Cultivate shallowly with a knife blade cultivator or hoe. Deep cultivation may injure the roots.
Carrots can be harvested or “pulled” when the roots are at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Under usual conditions, carrot tops may not be strong enough to withstand actually being pulled from the ground and digging helps to remove the roots without damage. Finger carrots are usually ready to harvest within 50 to 60 days. Other varieties should be allowed to grow until they have reached a diameter of at least 3/4 inch (about 60 to 70 days after planting). They then may be harvested over a 3 to 4 week period. Summer planted carrots may be left in the ground until a killing frost. Some gardeners place a straw mulch over the row so that carrots can be harvested until the ground freezes solid. In many areas, a heavy mulch allows harvest of carrot roots throughout the winter. For carrots to be stored, cut off the tops one inch above the root and place in storage at 32Â°F with high humidity. Carrots may be placed in a refrigerator, buried in lightly moist sand in an underground cellar or stored in the garden in a pit insulated with straw. Under proper storage conditions, carrots keep 4 to 6 months.
Questions & Answers
Q. What causes my carrots to turn green on the crown (top) of the root?
A. This condition is called “sunburning.” It causes an off flavor and dark green pieces in the cooked product. Cut away the green portion and use the rest of the root. When the tops are healthy, sunburning can be avoided by pulling a small amount of loose soil up to the row when the roots are swelling (about 40 to 50 days after planting).
Q. Why are my carrots misshapen, with forked and twisted roots?
A. Forking may result from attacks of root-knot nematodes, from stones, from deep and close cultivation or (more frequently) from planting in a soil that was poorly prepared. Twisting and intertwining result from seeding too thickly and inadequate thinning of seedlings.
Q. What causes my carrots to have fine hairy roots, poor color and a bitter taste?
A. These conditions are caused by a viral disease known as “aster yellows.”
Selection & Storage
Carrots can be harvested at various stages of development. Carrot thinnings can be added to fresh salads and eaten green tops and all. “Thinnings” are immature carrots pulled from overcrowded rows to make room for others to grow. Finger-size carrots may be dwarf carrots or immature average ones. They can be very tender and sweet. Harvest carrots before they are over mature, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Hugh overgrown carrots are less tasty, and they may have a tough woody core which may need to be removed.
Store carrots with the green tops trimmed. Although the tops are edible, during storage this greenery robs the carrot of moisture and nutritional value. Carrots will keep for several weeks in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in perforated plastic bags. If you plan to use the green tops in soups and stews, store them separately, as they will only keep for a few days.
Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
As the name implies, carrots are brimming with beta carotene. Beta carotene is a substance that is converted to Vitamin A in the human body. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked carrots contains four times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A in the form of protective beta carotene.
Beta carotene is also a powerful antioxidant effective in fighting against some forms of cancer, especially lung cancer. Current research suggests that it may also protect against stroke, and heart disease. Research also shows that the beta carotene in vegetables supplies this protection, not vitamin supplements. So eat your carrots.
Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked)
Protein .86 grams
Carbohydrates 8.19 grams
Dietary Fiber 2 grams
Calcium 24.18 mg
Iron .47 mg
Vitamin A 19,152 IU
Vitamin C 1.79
Preparation & Serving
Use a vegetable brush to remove every speck of soil from carrots. Peel if desired. Raw carrots are naturally sweet, but lightly cooked carrots are even sweeter. Carrots are one of those vegetables that loses very little nutritional value during cooking. In fact, some nutrients in slightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than raw carrots. Cooking actually breaks down the tough cellular wall of carrots making some nutrients more useable to the body.
Carrots can be shredded, chopped, juiced or cooked whole. They are delicious roasted, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, grilled, and they team up beautifully with almost any vegetable companion. Carrots boost the nutritional value of soups, stews, salads and are indispensable in the stockpot.
Canned carrots must be processed in a pressure canner. Do not can in a water bath canner. To can carrots safely follow these simple instructions;
Select small carrots, preferably 1 to 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Large carrots are often too fibrous. Wash, peel and rewash carrots. Slice or dice.
Hot Pack — Cover carrots with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Pack into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to pints; 1 teaspoon to quarts, if desired.
Fill jars to 1 inch from top with boiling water.
Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust two piece lids and process.
Process in a Dial Gauge Pressure Canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner at 10 pounds pressure: pints for 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes.
To Freeze Carrots they must be blanched. Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. Blanching slows or stops enzyme action which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.
Select young, tender, medium length carrots. Remove tops, wash and peel.
Leave small carrots whole. Cut others into thin slices, 1/4-inch cubes or lengthwise strips.
Water blanch small whole carrots for 5 minutes, diced or sliced 2 minutes and lengthwise strips 2 minutes.
Cool promptly in ice water for 5 minutes, drain and package leaving 1/2- inch head space. Seal in zip closure freezer bags and freeze. For detailed instructions on blanching see Beans.
The flavor of cooked carrots is enhanced by herbs. Use spearmint, marjoram, a small bay leaf, thyme, grated ginger root, chopped chives, dill or parsley. To sweeten carrots, use honey, maple syrup or a sprinkle of sugar.
Braised Carrots with Fresh Herbs
For this recipe, cut carrots into logs 2 to 3 inches in length. Use small tapering carrots, cut the tapering end off then cut the upper portion in half or quarters so that all of the pieces are about the same size in diameter. If using store-bought carrots, buy carrots with bright green tops; this is an indication of freshness.
1 pound small carrots or carrot logs
1 cup canned or fresh beef broth
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or use one tablespoon dried)
Wash, scrub and peel carrots. Leave whole or cut into logs.
In a medium saucepan, bring beef broth to a boil, add carrots, honey, butter and parsley. Cover and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove carrots to a warm plate and reduce liquid to a light glaze by continuing to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Return carrots to pan and toss in the thickened liquid. Serves 4.
This dish can be used as a garnish, a salad or snack.
1 pound carrots
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard or other grainy mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1green onions, chopped (include green top)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Scrub and peel carrots. Julienne, log or slice.
Blanch carrots in 1quart boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until barely tender. Drain.
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and mustard.
Using a fork or small whisk, beat in olive oil a little at a time. Add onions, parsley and garlic.
Pour over warm carrots. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Makes 3 cups.
Yellow, white and purple carrots are a novelty for us now, but these were the original colours of early carrots before orange carrots were bred. While highly nutritious, the idea that carrots improve your eye sight comes from World War II propaganda that was used to cover up for new sonar technology that was being developed.
Varieties of carrots
Choose short varieties for heavy soil, and long for lighter soils. Short-rooted and baby carrots are perfect for growing in containers.
- Amsterdam: A variety grown as a baby carrot. Great for containers
- Little Finger: Baby carrot growing 8 to 12 cm. Great for containers
- Paris Market: bulbs, can be grown in pots, small round roots, eat young
- Lunar White: Has a mild favour and white skin and flesh
- Solar yellow: Yellow carrot growing to around 18cm
- Purple Dragon: Purple skin with orange flesh
- Cosmic Purple: Long thin roots growing to 30cm with a purple skin and orange flesh
- Atomic Red: Red skin and flesh growing to 20cm
- Chantenay Red: French heirloom orange-red in colour and short in length
- Royal Chantenay: Short orange carrot, good for heavy soils
- Nantes: Bright orange and easy to grow. Can adapt to a wide range of soils and climates
Seeds or seedlings?
Seeds are best when it comes to carrots. Grow them in rows and thin them out when they are around 10 centimetres in height. If you are planting a big crop or have trouble handing the small seeds you can mix them with dry river sand to help space them out before planting. Use about a 1/3 of a cup of sand for a packet of seeds. Some people also like to mix radish and carrot seeds so they grow together.
When can I plant seeds?
- Warm Areas: All Year (except mid-summer)
- Temperate Areas: September to March
- Cool to Cold Areas: August to February
Remove large rocks from soil
Provide a well-drained soil with a pH of between 6.3 to 7.5. Get rid of any big lumps or rocks to minimise problems with your carrots forking and twisting.
Find a sunny position
Root crops like carrots require a position in full sun.
Try growing in a container
Carrots can be grown in a container. Choose baby carrots or short growing varieties such as Paris market.
image: carrots ready to be thinned out
Water consistently to ensure your carrots grow steadily, are tender and juicy and don’t split.
Rotate beds by planting after leafy greens
Rotating garden beds is a great way of minimising disease and optimising nutrient levels. Carrots aren’t very hungry plants and growing them after a leafy green crop is prefect.
Extra fertilising isn’t necessary
There is no real need to add extra fertiliser but if you do, choose an organic low nitrogen one. Your carrots will benefit from some seaweed tonic applied fortnightly.
Companion plant with onions
Onion smell deters carrot fly so try planting these together in alternate rows.
Harvesting your produce
Your carrots will take approximately 8 to 10 weeks to mature, and you can use your fingers to gently dig around the tap root to see how big they are. For the home garden you can simply dig them out as you need them although be aware that if you leave them too long (16 weeks onwards) they will lose their sweetness and become starchy.
To make the most out of your space, you can let your carrots grow closer together then harvest every second carrot as a baby carrot.
Be careful not to snap the roots as use pull them out of the ground. To do this, pull the carrots from the top of the root and twist as you pull them off. If you have heavy soil use a fork to lift the carrots from underneath first. Twist the foliage off and store in the refrigerator for up to ten days until needed.
Why are my carrots forking?
Your soil is probably too heavy. Try improving your soil or growing carrots that are a shorter variety. Twisted carrots can also be caused by too much manure.
Why do my carrots have cracked and split skin?
This is usually caused by inconsistent watering or unfavourable weather.
Where can I buy seeds?
Go to your local nursery or search for seed stores online. Try to buy seeds that have been grown in Australia. You could also join a local savers group or collect your own seeds although be aware that carrots can easily cross pollinate and are a biennial plant so unless you live in the tropics or sub-tropics, plants will take two growing seasons to flower.
Unsure which carrots to plant? Why not plant a rainbow of carrots!
Carrot ‘Danvers Half Long’
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Unknown – Tell us
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
Where to Grow:
Unknown – Tell us
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Unknown – Tell us
Late Spring/Early Summer
Unknown – Tell us
Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Los Angeles, California
Redwood City, California
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, Nevada
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cross, South Carolina
Kershaw, South Carolina
Laurens, South Carolina
Fort Worth, Texas