It is time to check on our fall carrots. We planted our carrots in three batches this fall. A good strategy with carrots is to plant some every few weeks so the harvest will be staggered through the fall and winter. Our first batch of seeds was planted at the beginning of September, and since carrots take 65-75 days to grow, they should be ready to harvest. We also planted some in late September, which will be ready in December, and some in mid-October which may not be ready until January. Carrots grow slower in the dark, cold days of winter… so this late batch will likely take longer to reach full size.
Carrots are a great thing to have in the garden during our cool season. Since much of the plant is underground, and our ground rarely freezes in the winter, they are a garden plant that can survive winter cold.
It is still possible to plant carrots seeds, but they grow very slowly in December and January, and extreme cold can kill the seedlings before they have a chance to develop a strong root.
Carrots grow best in loose soil without rocks or large clumps. Hard, clay soil will produce misshaped roots. Plant these seeds in a row, directly into the garden by creating a ½ inch trench. The seeds are small, so sprinkle them along the trench, with the seeds about ½ inch apart. Cover with soil, and water gently. Until the seeds germinate, it is important to keep the soil moist. If the seeds dry out, the chances of them germinating are much lower.
Once the seedlings grow to 1-2 inches tall, they will need to be thinned so that there is 2-3 inches between plants. This will give the roots plenty of room to grow. It is also important at this point to keep the area around these seedlings free from weeds… these root vegetables are poor competitors against weeds.
When planning ahead to the spring garden, remember to stagger the carrots, planting seeds every few weeks from February 1 through mid-March. Carrots planted after March 15 run the risk of late spring hot weather. Carrots like the cold!