How has it taken me so long to write this post?!?
This is “The Carrot Gal” blog, after all. I MUST have a post talking about growing carrots, right?!?
Well, wait no longer, it is here!
Carrots happen to be one of my all-time favorite vegetables. I loved them when I was a kid and I love them now.
But when you take the humble carrot and grow it yourself it turns into something spectacular! It puts homegrown tomatoes to shame. If they spend some time in the ground during the winter, they become extra sugary and delicious. I have heard winter carrots described as “candy carrots.” They are amazing!
If you are wondering why this blog is called Carrot Gal, by the way, you can read about my story here. But the short answer is that carrots are my favorite vegetable (as we have already established) and my husband affectionately calls me “Carrots” because of my red hair.
So badaboom, badabing, put them together and you have “Carrot Gal.”
There you go. I know you were curious!
As I have spent time over the years growing carrots in my garden each year, I have come to realize that one of the reasons why I love carrots so much is because they store so well. As do most of the root vegetables of course.
That is traditionally why people grew these vegetables…to get themselves through the winter.
I love that I can grow a garden full of carrots and harvest them as needed during the summer months. Then when fall comes around, I can harvest a bunch and store them in my fridge or garage and use them during the fall and winter.
If I have enough, I like to leave some in the ground and I have been known to harvest straight from the ground in the middle of winter.
Once spring comes around, however, they will not taste very good because they will be using up all of their stored energy preparing to send up a flower stalk to produce seed. The first year I grew carrot seeds, I thought the flowers were the most heavenly thing I have ever smelled.
It’s a shame that most people don’t get to experience that smell since carrots are biennials (meaning they produce seed in their second year of growth). So sad!
Another reason that I love carrots is that they are so versatile. You can eat them raw (with or without dips), steam them for a side vegetable, throw them into a stir fry, create a base for a great soup (they are part of the cooking trifecta – onions, carrots, celery), grate them onto a salad for color and crunch, roast them, puree them into a smooth soup, or even put them into desserts.
So many options!
Growing carrots is quite simple once you get the hang of it.
A couple of notes that will help:
- Carrots DO NOT like to be transplanted so get yourself some seed and plant them straight into the garden.
- Since the seeds are fairly small, they don’t need to be planted super deep…only 1/2 to 1/4 inch.
- Keep the seeds well watered until they sprout.
- They have a long germination rate…usually around 14 days!
- Once they have sprouted and are around 1-2 inches tall, you MUST thin them or they will not develop into roots.
- After all that is done, they are basically MAINTENANCE FREE.
When I plant my carrot seeds, I usually draw a line in the soil with my finger and sprinkle seeds in fairly generously. If I don’t have a lot of the particular seed I am planting, I will sprinkle 2-4 seeds every 2-3 inches or so. Then I cover with soil.
I like to plant my carrots in a grid pattern because I can fit a lot of carrots into a small space. I learned this technique from Eliott Coleman in his book “Four-Season Harvest” in which he teaches to plant small plants (such as carrots) in cross row rows.
One thing that I like about growing carrots is that they require a bit of work at the beginning, when I actually feel like gardening in the springtime and then basically fend for themselves, when I am less inclined to want to go out in the hot weather.
You can also succession plant them if you want a longer harvest. If I am feeling especially organized (which is NOT most years, by the way), I will continue planting carrot seeds every few weeks until mid summer for a nice fall harvest.
When I dig up carrots to harvest, I usually just remove the tops by twisting them off and composting them. Then I put the roots into a clean grocery sack and put them into my fridge (or if I don’t have enough room in the fridge) or my garage. I leave the dirt on, as it helps them to store better for some reason. I wash them as needed.
Every few weeks, I will open the bags and sprinkle or spray in a little bit of water. This is because carrots need super high humidity to store well. If you have struggled to store carrots in the past, try adding some water and see if that helps. (Some people recommend storing them in damp sand. However, I haven’t had much success with that method the couple of times that I tried it.)
One thing that I don’t love about growing carrots is scrubbing the dirt off of them. Those bags of baby carrots look awfully convenient when you are scrubbing individual carrots.
But, trust me, the flavor of the homegrown ones more than makes up for it! The more sandy your soil, the easier the scrubbing will be of course.
It is recommended that you plant carrots 2-4 weeks before your last spring frost date. Where I live, that means I usually start planting them around mid-April.
If you need help knowing when to plant each type of vegetable, you can grab yourself a copy of my free gardening cheat sheet here.
Well, there you have it. The long, overdue guide to growing carrots from the Carrot Gal herself!
I really do LOVE growing carrots.
And eating them too of course!
What about you? What is your favorite vegetable to grow? To eat? Have you tried growing carrots in your garden? Have you had success? Do you have any tips or tricks to add to my list?
I’d love to hear your experiences! Tell me about them in the comments below.
Happy carrot growing!