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How To Grow Carrots In Your Food Garden
Have you ever tasted a fresh crisp carrot, just pulled from a vegetable garden and grown with organic methods? If you have, you’ll know it bears no resemblance to the dry woody versions you get in a grocery store. No wonder children don’t want to
By: Peter Kearney
Step 1. Prepare your soil
Carrots have a delicate root system in their early stages of growth and do not like hard compacted soil or heavy clay. The soil must be well aerated and soft, allowing roots to spread and help the tap root growth. The ideal soil is well drained sandy loam. Make sure you remove stones in the soil as this, in addition to heavily fertilised or rich soil, will cause forking of the carrots into more than one root.
To prepare the bed, loosen the soil to 8-10 inches (20-25cm) depth . Break up any large clods and avoid walking on the soil. You can then add organic matter such as very well rotted manure, compost, leaf mould (not eucalypt). One of the best ways to ensure your soil is OK for carrots is to practice crop rotation.
Do not keep growing only carrots in the same bed, as this will deplete the soil and increase the potential for soil borne diseases and pests that love carrots. It’s good to have carrots at the end of your crop rotation pattern Carrots, being a root crop, would normally follow a fruiting crop. If you are a paid member of our web site at www.cityfoodgrowers.com , you can access crop rotation and companion planting information for carrots.
Step 2. Choose your plants
Put in about 30 plants per person and expect about 1 pound (0.45 kg) of carrots per foot (30cm) of row. For a small family sow a 10-foot (3m) row and follow it every 3 weeks with another row of the same size to give you a supply for summer.
Step 3. Follow correct planting methods
Carrots are generally a cool season crop, but this depends on your climate. Paid members of our site at www.cityfoodgrowers.com can use the localised planting calendar to find out ideal months and even days within the month, for planting carrots. Carrots can stand frost at either end of the prime growing season if you are subject to frost. Carrots germinate in about 14 days. Make sure you keep soil moist for the first week, but don't overdo it.
Plant them directly into your garden, as their fragile root systems make them not really suitable for transplanting. Carrots are very small seeds and its best to sprinkle them lightly in a row and then cover the row with a thin layer (a thickness of no more than 2 times the carrot seed diameter) of compost or soil.
Step 4. Use these growing guidelines
You will very likely have too many carrots coming up and you will need to thin them out. Crowding will cause stunted roots, so make them no more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. You may need to thin twice, say 2-3 weeks after the first thinning, but this time 3.5 inches (9cm apart). Carrots grow quite slowly; harvest time from your month of planting are on our web site planting calendar. Carrots do not compete well with weeds as they have quite dense roots close to the surface. To manage weeds, you can mulch between the carrots or hoe lightly.
Step 5. Control for pests and diseases
Larger creatures and rodents are often partial to carrots and you may need to protect the carrots with wire frames. In my experience, it is best to plant more than you need and expect to loose some to your local creatures. Many carrot diseases and pests are kept under control if you use good crop rotation and companion planting. Extensive information on dealing with carrot diseases and pests is provided in our paid member area at www.cityfoodgrowers.com, as well as rotation and companion planting information.
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Cityfood Growers at www.cityfoodgrowers.com provides home gardeners with easy access online to localised knowledge on growing their own food with organic gardening methods. Gardening workshops, urban agriculture consulting and food gardening content for schools also provided.