November 3, 2007
Carrots grow best in cool temperatures of late fall and early spring. Night temperatures of 55º and day temperatures of 75º are ideal for carrots. High temperatures cause poorly colored, low quality carrots. They will grow in some shade and do well in small gardens and flower beds.
Soil Preparation and Fertilization
Carrots do best in a loose, sandy loam type soil that is well drained. In heavy soils they mature slower and often the roots are rough and unattractive.
Clear the soil surface of any rocks, trash or debris. Small, fine pieces of plant material can be turned under for soil enrichment.
Spade the soil to a minimum of 8-12 inches deep. Turn the soil completely over so all plant material is covered. Scatter one cup of a high nitrogen manufactured slow-release fertilizer, such as a 19-5-9 analysis on the soil for each 10 feet of row to be planted. If an organic analysis is preferred, consider using a 4-2-3 analysis at two to three times the recommended rate. Then, use a rake to work the fertilizer into the soil to a depth of about three-to-four inches.
Smooth the soil and work it up into beds as shown. Beds allow good movement of air and water through the soil. Place carrot rows one-to-two feet apart. If ridges are farther apart, plant two rows of carrots on each ridge.
In most South Texas areas, carrots can be grown all winter. For the sweetest tasting carrots in late January and February, plant carrot seeds now. For a fall crop in other areas, plant in August. Begin planting carrots as soon as the soil can be worked. For South Texas springs, plant carrots any time from July through February.
Using a hoe handle or stick, make one or two rows 1/2-inch deep, on top of each prepared ridge. Scatter 18-20 seeds per foot in the row. Since carrot seeds require 14-21 days to sprout, many gardeners mix a few radish seeds, which sprout quickly, with carrot seeds to mark the row. Cover the seeds lightly. Sprinkle the row with water often to prevent crusting or cover the seeds with vermiculite or sand. This is especially helpful for crops planted in hot summer months.
Thin carrot plants to two inches apart when tops are four inches high. Some carrots will be large enough to eat. Thin the carrots to four inches apart as they continue to grow. Overcrowding and rocky soils result in poor quality roots. If radishes were mixed with the carrots, pull and eat them as they mature.
Five to ten feet of row per person should supply enough fresh carrots for table use. One foot of row will yield about one pound of carrots.
· Imperator 58
Keep carrots free of weeds, especially when they are small. Weeds use nutrients and moisture and cause reduced carrot yields. Scratch the soil lightly around the plants to prevent crusting. Water the plants as required to keep the soil moist to a depth of about three inches. Scatter two tablespoons of fertilizer per ten feet of row beside the plants when the tops are about four inches high. Fertilize again when tops are six-to-eight inches high if the tops become pale.
Name and description
1/2-to 1 1/2-inches long; yellow to white, dark head and tail; slender; feeds on root
up to 1 1/4 inches long; dull gray, brown to black; striped or spotted, soft bodied, smooth; curls up when touched; cuts off young plants near soil level
Before using a pesticide read the label. Always follow cautions, warnings and directions.
Carrots are troubled by some diseases. If leaf spots appear on plants, dust them with an approved fungicide. If a plant becomes yellow and stunted, remove it from the garden. If the roots have knots on them, your soil may have nematodes. Ask your county Extension agent or your local Certified Texas Nursery professional about disease control.
Carrots should be ready for harvest 70-80 days after planting. Pull them when the roots are 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. Loosen the soil around the carrot with a spade to avoid breaking the carrot while pulling. To prevent roots from wilting after harvest, remove carrot tops and place them in the compost pile.
Wash carrots and store in the bottom of the refrigerator. Place them in a plastic bag for increased humidity. Carrots will keep several weeks with high humidity and a temperature near 32º.
Serve carrots cooked or raw by themselves or in salads. They are an excellent source of Vitamin A and add color to a meal.
Pull unused carrots and place in a compost pile or spade into the soil.
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is an Extension Horticulturist with Texas Cooperative Extension of the Texas A&M University System. He is also the Master Gardener Coordinator in Bexar County. For more information on Carrots or any other gardening subject, please contact the Master Gardener 'Hotline' at (210) 467-6575. To visit our County Extension website at: http://bexar-tx-tamu.edu, click under Horticulture and Gardening.