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Harvest
Showing schedule for Southern England in United Kingdom

Soil facts and preparation

Quick facts..

  • Soil Type Well Drained
  • Ideal Ph range 6.0 to 7.0
  • Site Full Sun
This is the important bit, Carrots need well drained, light, fertile soil to grow long straight roots. Heavy clay, overly stony and recently manured soil can all cause forked or deformed roots. Carrots grow best in a fertile, sandy or peaty soil.

Find a sunny spot that has not been freshly manured for at least a year and where you did not grow a root vegetable last season. Add a fertilizer that is high in Potassium and low in Nitrogen. Too much Nitrogen in the soil can be another cause of deformities.

You can add leaf mould or a little sand to lighten the soil and improve drainage. We want to encourage the root to seek moisture as deep as possible and at the same time make it as easy as possible to grow downwards in a straight line.

It is also very important the site you have chosen to grow carrots is completely weed free. Spotting the tiny seedlings in among weeds is impossible!

Sowing and planting

Quick facts..

  • Germination 10 to 21 days
  • Sow 5mm deep
  • Sow Spacing 5mm
  • Rows 300mm apart
Carrots will not tolerate being transplanted so sow directly in their final position. Carrot seed is very small so can be mixed with sand, vermiculite or other inert matter to aid sowing.

Create a drill about 2cm deep and sow your carrot seeds as straight as possible in the bottom. It is advisable to water the bottom of the drill before sowing to prevent disturbing the soil after you have covered the seeds.

Continue to sow at 2 or 3 week intervals for a continuous supply. Early, mid and late season varieties are available.

Carrots can be slow to germinate. Sow Radishes in the same row, they germinate and mature quickly and act as a marker for the row.

The first couple of weeks after germination determine the size and shape of the carrot. As the tap root drills down any obstacles or saturated soil it meets will have an adverse effect on the carrots shape.

Growing a bumper crop

Carrots will require regular thinning, don't be tempted to overcrowd your rows, competition from neighboring plants is a common cause of poor roots. Be careful when thinning, try not to disturb the neighboring Carrot plant. Swiftly pull or cut the thinnings and bury or dispose of far away from the site of your crop to prevent the attention of the dreaded carrot fly. More mature thinnings can be eaten as baby carrots

As the roots swell, mulch or earth over the tops of the Carrots to prevent green and bitter tops. Water regularly and keep weed free. Try not to damage the roots when weeding with a hoe or other tool.

Harvesting the fruits of your labour

Quick facts..

  • Yield 100g per plant
Gently loosen the soil around the Carrot with a small fork and ease the root from the soil.

Select the larger undamaged roots for storage, place in boxes of sand or dry peat making sure the roots do not touch. Keep the boxes in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight and protect from frost.

Your comments and photos

Carrot varieties

Amsterdam Forcing

One of, if not the earliest variety of carrot. Sweet flavored finger shaped carrots with blunt ends. Excellent variety for freezing.

Autumn King

Long uniform roots that taper to a point. Good flavored variety of carrot that will survive in the ground well after first frosts. Stores well.

Berlicum

Attractive deep orange color with blunt ended roots. Requires deep sandy soil to reach its potential length of 25cm. Uniformly cylindrical with good texture.

Chantenay

High yielding early variety with short wedge shaped roots. Rich deep orange color with delicious sweet flavor. Very easy to prepare, no need to peel and are often served whole.

Flyaway

Bred specifically to deter carrot fly, this variety of carrot has become very popular. A strain of the Autumn King variety with sweet roots.

Nantes

Reliable early variety , medium sized with blunt ended roots. This variety has smooth skin and near cylindrical roots. Sweet and mild in flavour, they don't have to be peeled as long as they are washed well.

Napoli

The Napoli variety of carrot can be sown very early and is a F1 hybrid that is ready to harvest 50 - 60 days after sowing. While strictly an early variety it can be grown as a main or late crop. The roots are cylindrical, slightly tapered and grow to 20 cm in length. They are known for their consistency, very fine color inside and out and their flavor. Incredibly sweet and often referred to as a 'sugar or candy carrot', the sweetness is enhanced by cold weather late in the season. Looks good displayed as a bunch of carrots with bright orange roots and deep green foliage.

Purple Dragon

Purple Dragon is an old heirloom variety of carrot that is purple on the outside but has the typical carrot orange core. It is thought to have been first cultivated in Afganistan, the ancestral home of the carrot, where once all carrots were purple! Not just grown for its novelty, the purple colour comes from a compound called anthocyanin which is said to be a source of antioxidants with all the implied health benefits. The purple colour will fade a little when coooking so if grown for the colour alone, this variety is best eaten raw. Grow at slighter greater spacings than other varieties, the purple dragon variety, in particular, likes to have plenty of room and will not prosper if there is competion from neighbours or weeds. Roots are long and taper to the tap root, the flesh is crisp and has a sweet flavour with a faint hint of spice.

Red Samurai

Red Samurai is an F1 variety of carrot and as its name may suggests was developed in Japan, though is likely to have originated in Afghanistan. It has distinctive red skin and crisp pink flesh, the colour holds best when steamed. Roots are long and thin and taper to a point, in good well drained soil this variety will grow to 30cm. A second early main crop that will grow to maturity in just over 10 weeks and will tolerate freezing conditions. A reliable variety that requires little effort to grow and will certainly add colour and interest to oriental dishes, not to mention sweetness and crunch.

Yellowstone

Yellowstone carrots are bright yellow with long smooth skinned roots. This is a relatively easy variety of carrot to grow, with reliably long, uniform tapered roots that will do well in most soils. Unlike other yellow varieties that can appear bland compared to orange varieties, Yellowstone has a good sweet flavor and holds its color when cooked. Yellowstone is a main to late season F1 hybrid variety. Roots will grow to approximately 18cm in length. Yellowstone seed is often included in packets of rainbow carrot seed mix.