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Tips for Growing your own Carrots at home

Carrots

Carrots by letouj, Flickr

Carrots

Carrots by Elle-Epp, Flickr

When: Sow carrot seeds in spring, summer or autumn

Where to grow: In sunny spot that drains well

Where to sow: Directly in the ground, either in a well prepared seed bed or very deep pot (at least 30 cm deep)

How: Sow seed thinly in rows that are 30 cm apart and cover with soil to a depth of 1 cm

Care: Make sure the seed bed or pot is evenly moist during the germination period of 14 to 21 days

General: Radishes are often sown with carrot as they grow quickly (so you can see where your rows are) and they out-compete the weeds.

Thin carrots twice, firstly to 2 cm apart when they are around 5 cm tall, then 2-3 weeks later to 5 cm apart.  You can use these little carrots you pull out as baby ‘spring carrots’.

These days carrots come in all sorts of colours and sizes.  The colourful heirloom Rainbow Blend (see above) look great in your salads and the baby carrot Parisian Market are a wonderful addition to your meals or packed in a lunch box.

Parisienne Carrots

Parisian Market Carrots by chiotsrun, flickr

Carrots are fairly fussy growers.  They need to be sown directly as they don’t like being transplanted.  Carrots love lots of light and free draining, loose, fertile soils with plenty of well rotted organic matter that has been well worked in.
Fine, sandy soils are perfect for carrot roots to grow long and straight.  They are pretty wimpy though, if carrots hit a lump or stone in the soil when growing they tend to fork.

Forked carrot from my garden

If your soil is dense with a lot of clay your carrots might turn out more like this:

Carrots

Carrots by alon salant, on Flickr

In which case the Parisian Marketcarrots would be a better variety to grow.

Carrots prefer pH of 6.0 to 6.8 but can tolerate 5.5 to 7.5.
Excess Nitrogen causes branching and hairy, fibrous roots (like the forked carrot above).
Radishes are often sown with carrots to mark the rows and out-compete the weeds as carrots can take a few weeks to germinate.

Make successive plantings every three weeks but avoid the hottest part of the summer.
Carrots should be rotated around the garden to avoid the build up of diseases.
It is recommended that you grow them in a different bed each year over at least a three year cycle.
This season we have covered our crop of carrots with frost cloth to stop the
carrot rust fly laying its eggs and infecting the crop, I trialled this method last year at home with great success.

Saving Seeds for Next Years Crop

Carrot Basket

Carrot seed head by BlueRidgeKitties, on Flickr

To harvest your carrot seed, keep an eye on the umbels of flowers, and cut them off with pruning shears as they start to turn brown and dry.
If you have plenty of plants, just save seed from the first and second umbels of flowers to appear on each plant, as these will give the biggest and best seed.
Dry the seed heads further inside, and then rub them between your hands or in a sieve to separate them.
You will notice that the seeds have a ‘beard’ which is removed in commercial seed to make them easier to pack.

So, happy carrot growing…if you do use any of these tips please let us know how you go!

Also, if you have any other carrot wisdom by all means share it with us in the comments below.

[Crystal's 2-cents]

Andrew and I both see carrots as an easy go-to snack.  We both put a carrot in our lunch bag every day for work, they travel well, are a good source of fibre and do not have the fructose issues that fruit does.
We normally get our carrots from the supermarket, Tully’s or the Peninsula Fresh organic farmgate, but when I was home 2 months ago, we had the best carrots I have ever tasted and they were straight from my mum’s garden.
So I can highly recommend growing your own, there is no comparison in taste and no comparison in nutrient value, seeing as though they haven’t travelled thousands of kms on the back of a truck or been refrigerated for months!
Carrots are a very tasty source of vitamins A, K and C, plus a range of
antioxidants and phytonutrients including carotenoids.
Our bodies convert the antioxidant beta-carotene in carrots to vitamin A. The more orange the carrot, the higher the levels of beta-carotene.
Vitamin A is important for supporting our skin, eyes and immune function.
It helps to fight off viruses and bacteria, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, improve eyesight and reduce the appearance of acne and wrinkles.
Studies show that eating carrots can also lower risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit growth of cancer cells in the colon and lower risk of glaucoma.

References

 

Paleo Cookbooks - Recipes for the Paleo Diet

 

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