A family favourite with a variety of uses, this long, orange vegetable is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and usually thrives in cooler weather, so is best to plant in either Spring or Autumn. There are many varieties of carrots you can grow, and not all are actually orange; some varieties include white, yellow and even purple carrots! These vegetables need a lot of deep space to grow, so planting these in vegetable beds is desired.
What you’ll need:
Find a suitable bed
Carrots can be grown in deep plant pots, in the ground or in raised vegetable beds. Find a sunny spot in the garden that will have the sun’s rays on it for the majority of the day. Ideally, you’ll need to till this area around 18 inches deep into a fine soil, picking out any stones or other debris you find. This is important as it will prevent obstruction of the growing roots, and prevent forking of the carrots. A good mixture of well-rotted compost (or your own kitchen compost) and healthy top soil will make a perfect bed for growing carrots. A sandy soil is better for carrots as opposed to a clayey or silty soil.
Begin to sow
Once you’ve chosen your desired planting spot, mark out the rows in which you want to sow your carrots using the other end of your rake as a guide. This only needs to be 1/2 inch or 1 cm deep, with the rows around 6 inches or 15 cm apart from each other. Sprinkle these small carrot seeds along the marked areas and gently join the soil back together to cover. As these carrot seeds are so small, you could even mix these with sand and use the sand to sprinkle the seeds, to ensure they are fairly evenly spread apart.
Water and weed
Keep the soil moist with frequent, shallow watering. As the carrots’ green heads start to sprout, ensure you are watering once a week at least 1 inch deep. When you check the moisture in the soil, it should be moist up to your middle knuckle, if it feels too dry, try watering for a little bit longer to make sure the water is getting to the roots. You may also start to see small weeds coming through, it’s important to get rid of these so your carrots aren’t sharing their nutrients with these pesky weeds. Gently pull out the weeds, being mindful not to disturb your carrot roots.
Be patient with your carrots; sometimes they take around 2-3 weeks to show any signs of life. Once your carrots are coming through and have reached around 1 inch tall, gently thin these out by spacing each plant apart by around 3 inches. As an option, to retain moisture and keep out too much direct sunlight on the roots, you can buy some mulch and spread a thin layer on top of the soil.
Harvest your carrots
These usually take 8-12 weeks to fully mature. You’ll know when the carrots are ready to be pulled out because you will start to see the tops of the carrots coming through the soil by around 1-2 inches. These can be pulled out by hand, but some of the larger carrot varieties may need a fork to pull these out. Fresh carrots should ideally be stored in airtight bags in the fridge, just leaving them in the fridge may cause them to go limp.
Tuck in and enjoy!
Enjoy these carrots roasted, boiled or steamed alongside your Sunday roast. Alternatively, eat as a snack by cutting them into batons and dipping in humous, or grate into a crunchy salad.
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