When Are Carrots Ready To Pick?
When it comes to growing fruit and vegetables in your garden, carrots are one of the most popular choices.
Carrots are packed with flavor and nutrients but they do suffer from a reputation for being tricky to grow.
If you take a few simple things into account, though, growing some sweet organic carrots need not be a headache.
Today, we’ll look at how to grow carrots and also explore a couple of extremely common questions:
- When are carrots ready to pick?
- What do carrot sprouts look like?
If you can get to grips with growing these rewarding vegetables, after 4-6 weeks of work following the sowing, all you need do then is water them and superintend them to harvest.
With over 100 species, carrots are the second most popular vegetable, second only to the ubiquitous potato.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A. They are beneficial to your health in a number of important ways up to and including helping fight cancer cells.
The beta-carotene can help with your skin, general aging and vision. There’s some truth in the legend of carrots helping you see in the dark.
The presence of falcarinol, a natural pesticide, can even help stave off some forms of lung, colon and breast cancer.
You can see why you would grow this crunchy powerhouse. What, though should you look out for when growing carrots?
How To Grow Carrots
Preparing Your Soil
Like with any root vegetable, your success with carrots to a large extent depends on the quality of the soil you have to work with.
Carrots enjoy well-drained soil that’s somewhat sandy in texture. They don’t cope well with clay, compacted soil, rocky conditions or an excess of water. Carrots do demand moisture but they still need the soil to properly drain.
Raised beds with alternative soil can work if what’s naturally available is sub-par for carrots.
Get started working over your soil towards the end of winter or start of spring. Work it over well down to an inch or two below the final depth of the carrots.
Take your time removing any roots or rocks, any debris that will get in the way should go.
Carrots do not need lots of fertilizer. There’s certainly no need at all to fire up a fertilizer spreader and go over the top.
They do appreciate some nutrition. Use some fertilizer but shoot for about half the amount recommended on the packaging.
Most fertilizer packages have 3 numbers referring to:
When you are first seeding, a balanced 10-10-10 mix is ideal.
Easing off on the nitrogen – dialing it back to 0 or 5, for example – will give you more carrot and less green so experiment until you find what works best for you.
You can throw in some bone meal or fish emulsion once a month and you’re covered for fertilizer.
In order to germinate, carrot seeds need to remain moist.
They can be awkward to sprout unless you get the watering right. Water at least twice a day and you should be fine.
Continue watering after sprouting but ease off gradually.
What Do Carrot Sprouts Look Like?
Source: Hudson Valley Backyard Farm
As you can see, carrot seedlings look very similar to blades of grass.
They are best sown directly into the soil as they do not transplant well. In general, when the important part of the vegetable is under the ground – as with carrots or potatoes or radishes – you are best advised to plant directly.
How To Sow Carrot Seeds
Although they are small, it’s still wise to plant carrot seeds pretty thinly. You’ll get less hassle from pests this way and reduce the need for more laborious future thinning.
Choose a dry and sunny day if possible.
Sow the carrot seeds thinly covering the seeds once they are in place.
Once your seeds have germinated, you should thin the seedlings so you’re left with a couple of inches between each plant.
Other than frequent watering, you will not need to do much more to your carrots once they are at this stage.
As you can see, growing carrots really isn’t so difficult after all.
When Are Carrots Ready To Pick?
Any time from June or July onwards, you can start to pull them up.
As a general guideline, once they look big enough to eat, your carrots are ready to pick.
It’s a smart tactic to harvest in the evening. This will reduce the chance of carrot fly striking your harvest. The smell of crushed foliage draws these low-flying insects in. Minimize this by thinning out plants during the evening in still conditions.
If you have sown any carrots late, they must be lifted by October for storage over the winter.
3 Common Issues When Growing Carrots
This occurs with alternating wet and dry periods.
If you are experiencing these conditions, try to compensate and regulate the soil moisture by steady watering and mulching.
When the soil washes away from the tops of the carrot roots, the shoulders can turn green.
If you spot this, push down some soil or mulch over the tops and prevent greening from taking place.
With forking, root growth is inhibited.
It can be caused by rocky soil, poor drainage, a lack of water or excessive nitrogen levels in the soil.
Good Companion Plants For Carrots
Since carrot rust flies can be such a nuisance, try planting some nice aromatic herbs like basil around your carrot patch.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of how to grow carrots and that you now know how to identify carrot sprouts from weeds and are confident of when to pick your carrots.
Please drop us a line if you have any feedback or want any advice. We are always delighted to hear from our readers.
Now add some carrots to your organic vegetable garden!