Carrots are a garden staple. Why? Possibly because homegrown carrots taste better than any carrot you will find in a store. And there are so many colors to grow, you can truly go crazy with them.
Let’s talk about seeds. Carrot seeds are minuscule, making it a somewhat tedious process to plant them in your garden. In the photo below you can see the plain carrot seeds on the left and the “pelleted” carrot seeds on the right (from Johnny’s Seeds). They are coated in a benign white material that makes them larger & thus easier to see where you are planting them.
There is a thing called “thinning”, which is my least favorite garden activity and a 100% avoidable activity, too. If you seed carrots, for example, and just throw them in, they will all come up way too close to each other and you will have to go back once they’ve come up and literally pull out every other plant until they are at the correct spacing.
OR (see the photo below), you can take extra time on planting day and seed them at the correct 1″ apart and never have to touch them again until you harvest. Pelleted seeds can be great for this, but there are many varieties you can’t find in pelleted form, so we do a mix of both every year.
Since carrot seeds are so small, do take note of the shallow 1/4″ depth and don’t bury them too deep. To get them to germinate best, sprinkle them every day (especially when you seed them in the heat of summer). If the top of the soil dries out and crusts over, the tiny carrot seeds have a hard time pushing up through it.
Remember the DTM, right? Days to Maturity. Carrots have a huge range in terms of when they will be ready. One of my personal favs is called “Dragon” and it takes 90 days to mature. Another carrot, “Yaya”, takes only 56 days. So, you could plant both of theses on the same day and have them mature for harvest on varying days – perfection.
To test if your carrots are ready, simply pull one up, trying not to disturb the one next to it. The carrot pictured above is obviously fine to eat, but I would leave the rest for a while longer to give them a chance to fill in.
Homegrown carrots are rarely perfect. More often than not, they grow legs, weird arms and intertwine with their neighbors into all kinds of fun shapes.
Tip: If you can put in some carrot seeds in early September to give them time to grow before the frost takes over, you can leave them in the ground and harvest from the bed into the winter.