Growing carrots is so easy when you have the right knowledge. Carrots are one of those root crops that can be eaten both cooked and raw. Carrots are one of the more adaptable crops in the home garden, and produce a wonderful vegetable when grown the right way.
Growing carrots in the warmer northern areas of Australia allows you to plant carrot seeds almost all year round, except for the hottest months of summer. In temperate zones, the best time for planting is from July through to March, and in cold districts from August through to February. You can purchase carrots as seedling from garden centres, but they generally don’t transplant well.
Carrots are a simple crop to grow, and can be really successfully grown in a wide range of soil. As we are dealing with a root vegetable here it’s going to be necessary to get your hands dirty. Rocks, stones and really heavy soil will slow down growth and deform your carrots. Carrots taste best when they are grown really quickly and good soil preparation is paramount. Compost is good and, depending on the carrot varieties you're going to grow, a nice deep topsoil layer is extremely important.
They grow best in deep, crumbly, well-drained soil, which allows the roots to expand and grow quickly. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, you can improve the condition of your soil before planting by adding manure and garden compost. Growing carrots is best achieved in raised garden beds, 15-20cm above ground level, as water can drain away from the root area to prevent root rot. Carrot seeds should be sown direct.
There are lots of varieties of carrot seeds available that mature at different times and by spacing you’re planting times, you can have a supply of fresh carrots on hand almost all year-round. One of the most important thing to remember is, don’t plant your seeds too deep as they will not germinate. Carrots store well in the ground and it’s better to have too many than not enough so plant several varieties if you have room for them. Ensure to keep the garden bed damp, but not water-logged, until seedlings emerge Try covering your garden bed with hessian and water the hessian a couple of times a day to stop the top of the soil from drying out and remove the hessian once they have germinated. The time it takes for the seeds to germinate depends greatly on the temperature of the soil. After 10 days the seedlings should start to appear. Once seedlings are approximately 4-5cm in height, thin them apart by removing the smaller of the plants.
Water the bed regularly to encourage the development of large tender roots. Additional fertilizer is not needed, but it may be necessary to apply a water soluble fertilizer if your plants are slow to develop. Be careful don’t apply a high nitrogen based fertilizer, you will get lots of green leafy tops and very small roots. When growing carrots, most varieties will take from 16-20 weeks from sowing to harvest, however baby carrots can be pulled in 10-12 weeks from planting. Pest and disease problems are almost non-existent for carrots apart from the carrot fly. Carrot flies lay their eggs in the young seedlings and their larvae eat and tunnel their way through the growing root. They can be deterred by using plenty of compost as well as by using some good companion plants, like spring onions, to act as decoys. Carrots, like coriander, can bolt, which means they have a tendency to run to seed before producing their roots, generally when unusually cool weather is experienced in early spring.