Sign up for exclusive offers!

The Waltons Guide to Growing Carrots

The Waltons Guide to Growing Carrots

Carrots are relatively easy to grow, so they’re a great way to get started if you haven’t planted vegetables before. They’re versatile and delicious, and you might be surprised to find that they come in various colours and sizes. Not all of them need an established vegetable patch to thrive - a container will do for dwarf varieties.

If you’re new to growing your own, check out these tips from the experts for some great advice to get you started.

You can grow carrots all year round and they’re a great addition to both winter and summer cuisine. They keep well, and can be frozen for longer storage, but they’re tastiest fresh from the garden.

How to plant your carrots

Thin carrots out and give them plenty of room to flourish.
Image source: kviktor/Shutterstock

Most varieties are best sown between April and July but refer to the seed-packet for specific instructions. Carrots can be grown in containers as well as in the vegetable patch. Just be sure your pot is large enough for the type you’re planning to grow - your planter should be at least 12 inches deep.

Carrots are quite a hardy vegetable, so they’re not too fussy about where they’re planted, but they do need loose, loamy or sandy soil to thrive. Plant the seeds ½ an inch below the surface. It’s important to make sure the seeds are sown in spacious rows so they don’t overcrowd one another. To prevent tiny seeds from sticking together, mix a little sand with them when you sow to help separate them out.

Once the leaves start to show above the soil, you’ll need to thin the plants out to give the remaining carrots enough space to grow large and healthy. About 5cm - 7cm space between each plant is ideal (2 - 3 inches).

When are your carrots ready to harvest?

For a sweeter taste, harvest sooner rather than later.
Image source: Annaev/Shutterstock

It can depend on the variety, but carrots usually take between 12 and 18 weeks before they’re ready to harvest. Remember that this is only a guideline – if they grow too big they may lose their sweet flavour. If they look big enough to pull from the ground, harvest them sooner rather than later.

To harvest, simply use a small garden fork to gently prise the carrots from the ground. Use your hands to brush off any excess soil, rinse and enjoy!

How to avoid common carrot growing problems

Carrots can become forked or deformed.
Image source: lantapix/Shutterstock

Although they’re relatively easy to grow, carrots are not immune to problems. Two of the most common issues are aphids and carrot flies.

Garden aphids are common pests and, if you’re an experienced gardener, you’re likely to have come across them before. They like to feast on leaves and stems, and can cause rot by exposing the honey dew of the plant. Aphids aren’t fatal – don’t despair if you encounter an infestation. Simply hand-pick them from the plant, or buy a spray from a garden centre.

Small black carrot flies are a more tricky problem. Their larvae feed on the carrot’s roots, tunneling into the growing vegetable and causing rot. Unlike aphids, once carrot-flies have moved in they’re almost impossible to get rid of. The best remedy is prevention. Choose cultivars that are less susceptible to carrot fly, co-plant alongside leeks, or simply cover with a cloche or net.

Another common problem when growing carrots is forking. Your veg may appear straight at the top but split into two or more sections. This is usually caused by planting seeds too close together and not thinning out enough. Poor soil quality with lots of clumps can also lead to this problem. Forked vegetables are still edible, so don’t despair. The taste shouldn’t be affected.

Why not have a go at growing your own carrots at home? If your vegetable patch is already thriving, take a look at some of these recipes for your homegrown carrots.

Lead image: Shutterstock

Send us your Shed Images

Send us your image