Carrots are available at supermarkets all year round and are a good value vegetable. However, the experience of growing home grown carrots is one that you really won’t forget. Not only because of the satisfaction of growing but the taste of home grown carrots is unmistakable. They are fairly easy to grow and are also great for growing with children as they require very little maintenance up to harvest.
Sow between: January & July
What you will need: Seeds, compost & containers (if growing them in containers)
Where does it grow: In the ground or container. Carrots are best grown in the ground, once it has been prepared but can also be grown in containers if you are short of space or the ground you have is not suitable (heavy). You can also grow baby carrots if your ground it heavy as they won’t need to penetrate as far.
Likes: A sunny position, in well drained soil that can retain moisture
Difficulty of growing: Easy – one the ground has been dug
Growing carrots in the ground
Growing carrots in the ground is rather simple. The most important part of growing carrots is to ensure that the ground is well prepared. You will need to dig over the ground so that the soil is fine and free of lump and stones. This is so that the carrot can grow freely into the soil with little resistance.
Once the soil has been prepared, you will want to create a shallow trench, about 1cm deep where you are going to sow the seeds. Place the seeds into the trench around 7cm apart and then cover over with some soil. Water well but be sure not to disturb the seeds that you have just planted. If you are using a hose, the rose setting will be most suitable.
The carrots won’t take long to germinate and within a few weeks, you will be able to see you crop coming through.
Growing carrots in containers
Growing carrots in containers can be done and is especially helpful if you are short on space. It can also be great if you have young children as they will be able to care for the carrots standing up with the pot at waist height. We would certainly recommend using these felt pots from amazon as they are very versatile and will help with drainage.
You will want to ensure that the container itself is at least 35 to 45 cm deep so that the carrots have enough space to grow. Fill with compost and then spread the seeds evenly in the container and cover with 1cm of compost.
When the seeds start to grow, if there are too close together, then thin them out from there. This method, will ensure that the growing conditions for the carrots is optimal as the soil will be loose and well drained. It will also allow for children to get involved in the growing of the carrots as it is a far simpler process than growing them in the ground.
Carrots are an easy vegetable to harvest. The top of the carrot will remain above the soil and the rest carrot will remain under the ground. To harvest, you will want to make sure that the soil is moist. It is worth giving the soil a watering beforehand so that it is is loose when you pull up the carrots. If the soil is dry, you may find that they break off as you pull them up.
Look out for the little carrots as they ones will be great for children to pull up out of the ground. The larger ones, you may want to pull up yourself. You should be able to tell how big the carrots are from where the greens trout from. Normally, the larger the circumference of the carrot, the larger it is. However, this is not always an exact science.
Different varieties of carrots
Believe it or not, there are a lot of varieties of carrots that you can grow at home. Some of them, you will never have seen in the supermarket.
Here are some of our favourite carrots and some characteristics of each to help you choose which one will be right for you:
Carrot Flyaway F1 Hybrid – Probably one of the most classic of the carrot varieties and a winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit. This carrot has been developed with a unique resistance against carrot fly. You certainly won’t be disappointed if you want to grow a traditional carrot
Carrot ‘Cosmic Purple’ – For something a little different on the dinner plate, these cosmic purple carrots will certainly bring a dash of colour to the table. They are quite large carrots, with roots growing up to 18cm long. They have a strong foliage which also makes harvesting that little bit easier.
Carrot ‘Caracas’ – If your soil is quite heavy in the garden, these smaller carrots will be perfect. They are also great to grow in containers as they won’t need to be as deep. This makes them a great variety to grow with children. A gardeners favourite.
How to help avoid carrot fly
The only real pest in the garden, other than a surprise visit from Peter Rabbit is carrot fly. It can be absolutely devastating to experience all of your hard work be taken away by carrot fly. However, if you are planning on planting other vegetables, you can deter them by doing some companion planting. Companion planting is where two plants are planted in close proximity to help each other by either changing properties in the nearby surrounding (through shade, or soil properties) or providing protection through scent that can deter pests.
To deter the dreaded carrot fly, you will want to plant any of the following in close proximity to the carrots:
- Leeks – the smell of leaks and carrots acts a repellent to pests
- Onions – Masks the smell of carrots
- Chives, rosemary & sage – Help to repel carrot fly
How can children get involved in the growing of carrots?
Children can get involved at every stage of growing carrots, whether that be in the ground on in containers. Whilst the digging over of the ground may be a little physical for young children, sowing the seeds once the ground is prepared, is certainly something that they will be able to help out with. Sowing the carrots will give children such a sense of accomplishment when they start to grow.
All throughout the growth of the carrots, children will be able to care for the carrots. Ensuring that they are watered is going to be by far the most important job of the growing season. If you decide to grow them in containers, this will of course make it easier.
Come the harvest, pulling the carrots out of the ground will be a greatly rewarding experience. Ensure that the ground is moist so that the carrots can be removed easily. Then it is straight indoors to be served up either boiled, steamed or roasted. Delicious. This will be a great experience that your children won’t forget for a long time.