Carrots have a colourful history, literally! While we associate carrots with the familiar orange variety, yellow, purple and voilet carrots were more common up until the eighteenth century. The Greeks cultivated carrots for use as a stomach tonic and in the Elizabethan era carrot tops were highly valued as a substitute for feathers in hats and dresses.
- Carrots are easily grown from seed and enjoy a sunny position.
- Carrots can be grown most months of the year. Avoid planting in Winter in cooler climates and in the heat of Summer in warmer climates.
- Plant seeds directly into soil, 2-5cm apart, in shallow trenches and water in.
- A few weeks after initial growth cull the weaker seedlings to make space for the others to grow.
- Plant alongside radish, onion, leeks, lettuce and tomatoes. Do not plant next to anise or dill.
- Once the foliage is large enough for mulching, apply a 2-3cm layer around the seedlings. This will prevent the tops of your carrots from being green.
- Watering will vary depending on weather conditions. Water as necessary to keep the soil moist and prevent it from drying out.
- Apply a liquid fertilizer once a month.
- Harvest carrots around the 8 week mark for baby carrots and up to 16 weeks for large carrots.
- Use a garden fork to lift the carrots from the soil without snapping the root.
- During the cooler months, you can keep your carrots in the ground until you are ready to eat them, using the soil as your underground storage solution!
When you think of a carrot your mind instantly sees a long, orange variety, BUT WAIT, there's more! Carrots come in many different shapes, colours and sizes. Some varieties produce round stumpy carrots whilst others are notable as long cylindrical varieties. However, here are some common, long, orange varieties you may want to start with.
- Manchester Table - Produces a long, sweet carrot with a short harvest time of 10 weeks.
- Topweight - Resistant to virus disease and an old favorite grown commercially and with backyard farmers.
- Baby Pak - An excellent variety to harvest for baby carrots at 9 weeks growth.