How are growing carrots like riding a bike?
Both are easy once you learn how. Darren Butler recommends this 8-part list for practicing the knack of growing large, tasty, single-rooted carrots. May you have many a happy ride on the carrot-growing bicycle:
1) Grow in loose, uncompacted, uniform soil without rocks or obstructions.
2) Grow in soil that is at least 2 to 3 times as deep as your expected carrot root length.
3) Grow in the ground rather than in containers if your soil is loose enough to do so. Carrots have fine roots that extend several feet deep, and so are not ideal for containers. If growing in containers, use deep containers (preferably 2 feet deep or deeper) or Paris Market “baby” and round varieties. For a discussion of the importance of living soil see Grow a Soil Ecosystem: GardenZeus™
4) Seed directly in the ground or in containers unless you are a skilled biointensive gardener who knows how to properly prick out and transplant carrot starts. Many carrot root problems develop while seedlings are still tiny. It is easy to damage carrot roots in transplant, and as a result produce carrots with forked or poor root formation even if other growing conditions are ideal.
5) Grow during cool weather. Carrot roots form best in soil temperatures of 60 to 70° F. Harvest roots at whatever their size before weather warms consistently to 85° F or above.
6) Water your garden beds to flush weeds before planting carrot seeds, and apply a fine organic mulch after carrot tops are 1.5 inches tall to inhibit weeds. Use care with root disturbance, such as when thinning carrots during the first 5 weeks and with pulling weeds around carrots during the entire growing season. Generally it is best to cut weeds around carrots at soil level and discourage regrowth with mulch, rather than disturbing carrot roots by pulling out roots of nearby weeds.
7) Maintain even soil moisture. Carrots need fairly regular watering, and roots may fork, split, or become tough if soil dries out between waterings.
8) Use caution with applying nitrogen fertilizers. Carrots need moderate nitrogen to form large, tasty roots, but too much nitrogen may result in “furry” roots with many side shoots, or brittle roots that split easily.
The timing of the tasks involved in growing carrots varies widely depending on where you live. To receive customized instructions for growing carrots in your specific area, go to GardenZeus and enter your zip code.