Carrots- crunchy, flavorful, and super healthy. In just half a cup of carrot, you get four times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. On top of that, this vegetable can be grown easily at home without taking much time. There’s no reason you should not venture into carrot growing for your next gardening pursuit but you need to know when to harvest carrots for the best results.
Carrots have been grown by farmers all around the world for thousands of years, this is because they are very versatile and provide so many nutrients. They can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, or as an ingredient in salads, stews, and soups, Early carrots were either purple or yellow, it was the Europeans later on that developed the orange-colored carrot.
When it comes to carrots, soil preparation is quite crucial. Ideally, you need to make sure there are no obstructions (rocks, clumps) that could block their growth. Soil should be well-drained loam and sandy. The ideal temperature for carrots is cooler seasons like early spring or late autumn.
Another important aspect is knowing when to harvest carrots. Understanding the right timing promises you a better crop. The variety of your seeds also determine how long your carrots will take to mature.
Growing Carrots from Seeds
First things first, before you even prepare the procedures for planting a carrot in the garden, you need to choose which variety is best for you. You will need to consider which carrot variety is the best for your climate in the area, the type of soil you have, and the preferences you want. If you are not sure which carrot variety is the best for you, ask your local nursery which variety is the best for you. You can purchase the seeds online or by visiting your local nursery.
Your carrot loves the full sunshine, and this applies to any carrot variety. So choose an area where your carrot can have access to full sunshine or at least partial shade. Partial shade may not be the ideal place for your carrot, but they still can thrive in those conditions as they are a cool-weather crop. Carrots like slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8. You can find some testing kits online or at your local nursery.
As with all planting all kinds of crops in the soil, you will need to prepare the soil first and foremost, which is our next step. The next step you have to do is to loosen the soil, and this is a crucial step for your carrot as they need loose soil for them to grow successfully. Use a shovel or a hoe to loosen the soil thoroughly. Remove any rocks, small stones, or any clumpy soil you encounter.
You need your soil to fluffy instead of hard or clay-like. If your soil is too hard or clay-like, you carrot will not form its ideal shape due to it not being able to dig as deep as it needed to be. You may want to consider adding some organic compost such as manure, yard trimmings, or sand to soften the soil more. Additionally, add some more organic compost after those to help the seeds germinate which yields some high quality carrots later on.
A raised bed with a depth of about 12 inches makes a good breeding ground for carrots. After watering the bed, leave it to rest for a day or two. Growing carrots from seeds are not tricky at all. But some things should be kept in mind. Consider using cedarwood as the body for your plant beds as they don’t grow some molds on them when they get wet,
Your carrots love the cool climate, so begin sowing the carrots in the raised bed three weeks before the last spring frost. For several weeks, gradually sow more seeds once per week for the next following weeks. Make sure to give each seeds space from each other about 1-2 inches and bury them n more than ½ inch deep.
You must sow the seeds shallowly. It may be easy to over-sow because the size of carrot seeds is so small. To gain better control over how much you sprinkle, mix in some sand with the seeds in the palm of your hand. You can also use pelleted carrot seeds or seed tape. These options give you better hold and spacing while you sow. Each carrot needs an inch or so to develop properly- so try to sow in an even fashion.
Next, the seeds should be protected. You can cover the bed with floating row covers. Try to keep the seedbed moist until the seeds start to sprout. Even when the roots have formed, you need to keep watering them deeply.
Tips & Tricks for Harvesting and Storing Carrots
When they look big enough, carrots are ready to be pulled out. Typically, two to three months is an adequate time for carrots to mature. To be sure, you must check the instructions for the seed variety you purchase.
If you look out for several clues you can tell when to harvest carrots. Sometimes they start to pop out of the soil. The tops will become vibrant and green. The length should ideally be about 8 to 10 inches. You can also check the base of the stem which will now be thick.
There’s no need to harvest all your carrots at once. You can leave them underground for another four week and keep them preserved, even through the winter. Just make sure the ground does not freeze and is pest-free.
Harvesting and storing carrots both require care and vigilance. Simply putting fresh carrots in the fridge can make them go limp in a few hours. The proper way is to separate its top ½ inch first. Then run the carrots in cold running water. Leave them to air dry, and finally seal in air-tight bags and refrigerate.
How to know when Baby Carrots are ready to Harvest
Baby carrots are a popular delicacy and snack, especially when added to salads or stews. The best part is these small tasty veggies are quick to grow. Available in many varieties, most baby carrots are ready to harvest 55 to 65 days from the planting date.
Watering holds great significance even for growing these smaller, baby carrots. Under-watering won’t let them grow at all. On the flip side, overwatering will affect the soil and its nutritional value. Finding the right balance is key.
When the carrots are around ½ inch in diameter, you can pull them out. It’s quite simple. These delicious baby carrots are sweeter in taste. You can enjoy them raw or even better, toast them or use them in desserts like carrot cake!
Rainbow Carrots – A Splash of Color!
When most of us picture a carrot, a traditional bright orange-colored vegetable comes to mind. But that’s not the only carrot you can grow. In shades of purple, deep red, bright yellow, and even white, the rainbow carrot is an exciting variety. In fact, these colorful carrots are bound to make kids love their veggies.
These carrots have the same flavor and crunch you get from a traditional carrot. The colors can add an exotic visual appeal to your meals and salads. Why not get playful and grow these vibrant veggies?
You can easily find rainbow carrot seeds and plant them like any other carrot seed. Some popular varieties include Atomic Red, Purple Dragon Yellow Pak, and White Satin. There are a lot more options too.
Rainbow carrots usually mature in 75-110 days and are then ready for harvest. As there are so many variations in carrot seeds and types, the harvest time also varies. Some carrot varieties can be harvested in 70 days while others may take up to 130 days.
Final Thoughts on When to Harvest Carrots
Growing carrots might seem a bit tricky as they’re a root vegetable and you don’t get to see what is happening beneath the soil. Understanding when to harvest carrots can help reduce any chance of failure. You can grow long, crunchy, flavorful carrots if you do your home-work and follow the guidelines. The most important factors for the best tasting carrots are watering and soil health. Supplements should be given to the soil, but remember not to go extra with nitrogen fertilizer. We have written an Ultimate Guide to Growing Carrots for a more comprehensive article.
Also, beware of the ‘carrot rust fly’ which is the most common pest. This is why using row covers is always recommended while your carrots grow. Always keep an eye on your plants and remove any showing signs of disease.
We think it’s worth growing this versatile vegetable. It can be cooked, steamed, or even made into a refreshing juice or sweet-tasting dessert. And the best part; this tasty treat, abundant in vitamin A is also excellent for your eye-sight.
Now that you have learned the best time to harvest your carrots, do you have questions? Or do you perhaps want to share some tips? Feel free to comment below! Also we can offer you some other guides as well such as When to Harvest Kohlrabi and When To Harvest Parsley.