Join homesteader Stacy Lyn Harris as she walks you through, step-by-step, how to grow carrots in your homestead vegetable garden!
How to Grow Carrots
Carrots are the number one source of vitamin A in all of the world. I just love a good carrot but sometimes they can get a little turpentine-flavored. That comes from the vitamin A in the carrot. When the weather is too hot the vitamin A seems to come out and you’re tasting that turpenoid flavor.
Most people think of carrots as that orange cylinder-shaped vegetable, but really they come in a multitude of colors. You’ve got your red ones, you’ve got purple, white, and orange so there are a variety of colors.
There are two main growing seasons here in the South. One is in September and the harvest season would be in late fall or early winter. The other is in March. I like the winter one better for growing carrots because they seem to do a lot better here in the south. In Atlanta I think March as a better time, it just kind of depends. But whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, you can grow carrots. They’re really, really easy to grow.
Let’s get to the meat of the matter: I’m gonna take you from beginning to end, from ordering your seeds all the way to harvesting your vegetable. It’s really, really simple.
Carrots are one of those vegetables that you have to plant by seed but it’s easy so don’t lose heart.
Choosing Carrot Seeds
The first thing to do is order seeds, then prepare the soil in the garden. I like to order from Southern Exposure, Baker Creek (which is rareseeds.com) and Seed Exchange so there is a variety of online sources where you can find great heirloom varieties. One wonderful carrot variety is Chantenay Red Core. Another is Purple Dragon, which are obviously purple. (I love that is because they make beautiful dishes.)
Planting Carrots in the Garden
The next thing you’ll need to do is to prepare your raised garden bed. I have a 4’x4’ spot right here. You’ll need a good compost and sandy loam soil for the drainage. The compost is really going to be great for helping to facilitate the nitrogen not to take over the root system or the roots of your carrot which is the carrot itself. It will split the carrot in half and you don’t want that to happen to your carrots that you’ve been waiting so long to harvest.
The next thing that you’ll need to do when you get your seeds is just plant them in rows. I like to plant them in two rows. It’s easier, especially in big patches. Plant them in two rows, about two inches apart. Once those rows are planted, give yourself 18 inches or so and plant another two rows staggering them, planting them about every two inches apart. Really it only takes about a quarter of an ounce to do about a hundred feet and this right here is only a sixteen square foot bed. I’ll probably get about 100 carrot plants out of that.
You’ll begin to pull your harvest up about 60 to 80 days after you plant your seeds. I like to do 60 days for some recipes while others I don’t mind waiting until they’re a little bit larger. But if you get them too large they may become a little bit woody and the flavor won’t be quite as good. When it’s harvest season you just pull these beauties up. Some carrots may be a little bit smaller but they are incredible, especially the purple color with the orange. But it’s as simple as pulling them right up out of the ground.