Carrots are easy to grow, but here are some tips to follow to have an even more successful harvest. Did you know carrots hate to be transplanted? This is one of the reasons we don’t sell many carrots in the veggie range because you will be far more successful when planting from seed. This is because they have fragile roots that don’t tolerate root disturbance. The one exception to this rule is the short and round varieties.
Carrots prefer a spot in full sun with free-draining, well dug over loose soil, which helps the carrot easily penetrate the ground. Incorporating compost and sheep pellets before planting is ideal, and if planting in containers, use Oderings Fruit & Veggie Mix.
Carrots can be sown in autumn, spring and summer, but as they grow, they should be watered regularly (especially in hot, dry weather). If you don’t water deeply enough, the growth may be stunted. The other thing to cause deformed or split carrots is if the soil is from the ground is too hard, so preparation is key. When sowing seed in rows, make sure each row is 40 cm apart, making harvesting easier.
Most varieties are ready to harvest in 70–100 days, but the times are dependent on the variety. Check the maturity on your seed packet and use your observation skills to decide if they are ready. You can usually tell the carrot is ready because the carrot starts to bulge up out of the ground. If you don’t see this happening, you can brush away some surface soil to see how big they are. You can pick them at any stage, but typically people wait until the top of the carrot above the soil is around 1.5 cm in diameter.
When you are ready to harvest, you want the soil to be moist (not soggy) as this makes digging and loosening the soil surrounding them easier to work with; watering the night before harvest is ideal. This is important to ensure the carrots don’t break off in the soil, which is likely to happen in un-loosened soil. When digging, make sure your fork or spade is away from the carrots to prevent accidentally cutting or poking them. Once the soil is loose and worked over, your carrots should easily glide out of the soil. If they don’t pull out easily, loosen the soil more.
Once dug up, don’t wash the carrots unless you plan to eat the crop within 2–4 weeks. If storing, brush off the excess soil in preparation for storage. Before you store, you will want to cut off the green tops. If you leave the tops attached, this will leach the natural sugars from the carrot, reducing the flavour. Trim the leaves, leaving 2–3cm of growth. When the carrots are dry, store them in the produce drawer in the fridge or pack them into crates and store them in a cool garage and they will last for 4–6 months. It’s a good idea to check them occasionally and remove any that may show signs of rot.