How to grow carrots from seed March 06 2016
Freshly picked carrots are a real homegrown treat packed with vitamin C and beta-carotene. Maincrop varieties are sown from April to June, while early carrots can be sown in March. All carrots prefer to grow in a light, free-draining soil free of stones. Short-rooted varieties are the best choice for containers.
Sow in pots or containers
Use pots at least 30 cm wide and deep with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill with compost almost to the top, scatter seeds thinly across the surface and then cover with more fine compost. Water well and keep in a sunny spot.
Sow directly into the ground
Make a 1 cm deep row in the ground. Sow the tiny seeds as sparingly as possible along the row, as this reduces the need for thinning out later on. Cover with some fine soil or compost and pat down firmly. Allow a 25 cm gap between further rows. Water with a fine rose on your watering can and keep the ground moist over the following weeks.
Successional sowings will provide fresh carrots for months. Simply make a new sowing into rows or pots every few weeks.
Water the seeds regularly. Germination can take a couple of weeks so be patient. Seedlings may then need thinning out so there’s enough space for the carrots to grow.
Thin out seedlings
When the leaves are large enough to handle, start pulling out alternate plants along the row to make more room for those that remain. Aim for a spacing of about 6 cm between seedlings in order to produce good-sized crops.
Preventing carrot fly
Carrot fly is a common pest attracted to the sweet smell released during thinning and harvesting. Try to pull out crops in the evening and remove all thinnings from the garden. A protective fleece ground cover can help avoid attacks by this nuisance fly.
Water well, especially during hot weather.
Keep the soil weed-free and hoe between rows.
Companion planting near onions or leeks helps deter pests.
Pull up baby carrots for maximum sweetness after ten weeks, or leave in for longer to grow bigger crops. Use a fork to help lift carrots out of heavy clay ground.
RAW • Eat baby carrots whole, or grate larger ones into salads.
STEAM • Steam over simmering water for 10-20 minutes.
BOIL • Cook in boiling water with a pinch of cumin and a spoonful of brown sugar.
ROAST • Par-boil, drizzle with honey and roast for 20 minutes.
PESTO • Mix carrot leaves, oil, garlic, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in a blender.
Cut off the leafy green tops and keep carrots in the fridge for up to a month.
FREEZE • Wash, chop and blanch in hot water for five minutes. Put in freezer bags.