There’s one garden crop I’m almost always able to forage from my garden – tasty carrots. When it’s hot in summer, this root vegetable rarely tries to flower. When it’s cold – even freezing cold – its top growth may whither, but those roots just get all the sweeter from the chill. In spring and fall, I’m savoring the baby carrots best thinned intermittently in order to maximize growing space for others left to mature. So, that’s it: 365 days of fresh carrots in the garden.
Sounds easy, right? Well, there are a few tricks to success with growing carrots.
First, carrots are best grown from seed. And, carrot seeds can take a long time to germinate (aka sprout) and then grow to a harvestable size. So, as soon as the soil warms in spring and well before summer ends, it’s important to sow seeds thickly into your prepared garden beds. Choose a seeding depth based on the seed packet’s recommendations. Water immediately and regularly after sowing.
Be patient, it will probably take longer than you think for these seeds to sprout. Once they do emerge from the soil, begin carefully tugging out a few babies here and there to make room for other carrots to mature.
After several weeks of thinning repeatedly, you’ll eventually be pulling up carrots sizeable enough for a snack. Later, you’ll start getting bigger and bigger carrots.
Your next job is to remember to plant another row of carrot seeds as the prior planting begins to sprout – or a week or two after your earlier planting occurred. Remember to keep an eye on your average first and last frost dates to determine ideal planting windows.
Generally speaking, you can try sowing your first spring seeds around the time your last frost is due, and you can sow your final seeds about six to eight weeks before your first fall frost is due to hit. You may miss a germination window here or there if frost continues late into spring or starts up early in autumn, but if you have been seeding regularly in between these times, you might still have plenty of crunchy, sweet carrots to enjoy all the time.
Some of my favorite carrot varieties: Scarlet Nantes, Little Finger, Cosmic Purple, and Bolero. For containers, I’m fond of Round Romeo, which only grows about an inch or two deep and wide.