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How to Grow Carrots

Carrots are a popular root vegetable that are easy to grow in sandy soil. They are resistant to most pests and diseases, and are a good late-season crop that tolerates frost.

Planting

  • Plant seeds outdoors 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date.
  • Make sure your soil is free of large rocks; carrots need deeply tilled soil that they can root down deep.
  • Soil should be well drained and loose to prevent forked and stunted growth.
  • Plant seeds 3 to 4 inches apart in rows. Rows should be at least a foot apart.

Tip: Do not add fresh manure before sowing seed; it can cause carrots to fork and send out little side roots.

Caring

  • Gently mulch to retain moisture, speed germination, and block the sun from scorching the roots.
  • Once plants are an inch tall, thin so they stand 3 inches apart. Snip them with scissors instead of pulling them out to prevent damage to the roots of remaining plants.
  • Water at least 1 inch per week.
  • Weed diligently.
  • Fertilize 5 to 6 weeks after sowing.

Tip: Carrots taste much better after a couple of frosts.

Following the first hard frost in the fall, cover your rows with an 18-inch layer of shredded leaves to preserve them for harvesting later.

Harvesting and Storing

  • Carrots are mature at around 2 ½ months and ½ inch in diameter—that’s the time to start harvesting.
  • You can leave mature carrots in the soil for storage if there is no threat of the ground freezing.
  • To store freshly harvested carrots, twist off the tops, scrub off the dirt under cold running water, let dry, seal in airtight plastic bags, and refrigerate. If you simply put fresh carrots in the refrigerator, they’ll go limp in a few hours.

Tip: Carrots can be stored in tubs of moist sand for winter use

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