Planning: Carrots

Last year was the first time I ever tried growing carrots and somehow they actually survived. They were Cosmic Purple Carrots, took forever to mature and I didn’t do much for them. I planted the seeds and I waited.

This year I’m going to plant two varieties; Cosmic Purple Carrots, and Danvers Carrots. Cosmic Purple Carrots say to plant directly into the ground 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost while the Danvers say they should be sowed after the last frost.

One interesting thing I’m finding out about carrots is that the germination process is slow and uneven. Some will germinate before others, and some well after.

When planting carrots, it’s recommended to plant seeds less than an inch apart, and start thinning when they are a few inches tall to about 2 to 6 inches, depending on the variety.

Soil is extremely important in growing any type of plant but with root vegetables it’s even more important. Carrots, like potatoes, need stone free, deeply tilled or loose soil that they can grow in. I plant in raised beds so tilling isn’t an option, but I do go through the soil to clear it of rocks and make sure it’s not compacted.

Carrots love tomatoes, as the saying goes. Last year I planted them along side two of my tomato plants and I think that really helped them succeed, despite my lack of attention. Tomatoes secrete an insect deterrent, solanine, which kills insects that could harm carrots. They can enhance the flavor of carrots and carrots help break up the soil so more air and water can go into the tomato plants’ roots.

In addition to tomatoes, leeks are supposed to be a good companion plant for carrots. They help repel each other’s pests. Rosemary, Sage and Chives also help repel carrot flies.

One new thing I learned this year from another gardener is that even Michigan, you can leave carrots in the ground throughout the winter. Cover them up with a tarp to help protect them, and harvest them whenever you need a carrot. Meaning I can grow carrots all year round, which is always a plus.

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