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Beneficial lacewings are attracted by carrots.

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How To Grow Carrots

For carrots to grow successfully, the soil should be prepared a few weeks before the last frost. Carrots will grow in most soil conditions. However, they prepare a fine textured soil with sand and plenty of good organic compost dug into it. Depending on the variety of carrot to be grown, the soil needs to be loosened to a depth which will enable the carrots to grow down into the ground easily and all stones removed to prevent distortion and forked roots. Soil which is too rich in nitrogen may also cause forked roots.

Woman holding up freshly picked carrots.

Once the seed bed has been prepared, water it before planting the seeds. The seeds should be grown in furrows which are only about 1 centimeter deep and 6-12 mm apart. A light covering of compost or sand will help prevent the soil from forming a crust, making it easier for the carrot seedlings to emerge1.

Carrots can take up to three weeks before they break through the soil surface. Some gardeners like to sow a few radish seeds into the furrow as radishes emerge quickly and will show where the rows are. Then they can be removed as the plants get bigger making thinning the carrots an easier and more efficient task. Carrots can also be successfully grown by the broadcast method. (An area of soil is prepared and the seeds are scattered over it to grow where they fall rather than in straight furrows2).

Photo of Carrots in a weedy garden bed.

Carrots are also ideal for growing in raised beds. Raised beds can be a real advantage for those who are unable to bend or for wheelchair gardeners. In raised beds it is also easier to control soil conditions and control drainage. For a good harvest of mature carrots, thinning is essential. To avoid disturbing the roots of the carrots, thin by cutting the unwanted weaker carrots with kitchen scissors rather than pulling. Thin to between 5 and 8 cms (about two inches) to suit the mature carrot's size. For a continuous supply of fresh carrots sow seeds every three weeks up until mid-summer. Carrots can also benefit from the application of compost tea.

The biggest problem with carrots is that they suffer attacks by root eating insects. There are some controls that can be introduced into the soil to fight back against these insects, including beneficial nematodes and milky spore disease.

There are a wide range of carrot varieties from which to choose. 'Oxheart' is particularly good for heavy soil, while 'Touchon' matures within sixty-five days. For the gardener looking to grow carrots that are not the now standard orange, 'Purple Haze' is, as the name suggests, is a delicious purple carrot!

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  1. Vegetable Expert
  2. Ref to: http://www.gardenersnet.com/vegetable/growingcarrot.htm

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