Q How do I sow carrots?
A Sow in May for crops that will stay in the ground into winter.
Earlier crops can be sown from March, and you can sow until August if autumn is mild.
Sow a few carrots every few weeks for a succession of crops.
Carrots like sandy soil and don’t grow well in clay soils, or in very stony ground. In this case, grow in pots or raised beds.
Carrots fork if there is too much nitrogen in the soil. Add manure to the bed the previous autumn and let it break down. A slow-acting, phosphorus-rich organic feed, such as bonemeal, is better for carrots than a nitrogen-heavy, controlled-release fertiliser.
Dig over your plot well, making sure the ground is crumbly enough for roots to push down into and the surface is fine enough to cover the seeds evenly.
Create a drill around 1cm deep and sow seed thinly, then pull the soil back over the seed and water in gently. When the seeds have germinated, thin to around 5-7.5cm between carrots.
Caption: Sow carrots thinly to reduce the amount of thinning you have to do
Q How do I look after carrots?
A Cover your seeds with insect-proof mesh to protect from carrot fly. Carrots shouldn’t need much watering. If the foliage starts to wilt, give them a good soak. Weed between the rows regularly, using a hoe or a hand fork. Carrots don’t grow well if they have to compete with weeds.
Caption: Keep away carrot fly by covering carrots with fine mesh
Q Which pests and diseases can affect carrots?
A Carrot fly can be a real problem. They lay their eggs on carrot tops and the developing larvae eat their way through the root, leaving black tunnels that can make the whole carrot inedible.
Which? Gardening magazine found the best way to avoid this is to either cover the crop with insect-proof netting, pegged down around the edges, or grow a carrot fly-resistant variety. Thin seedlings, water and weed on a warm, dry afternoon, when carrot flies are less likely to be flying, and cover with mesh as soon as you have finished.
If slugs are a problem, sprinkle a few organic slug pellets containing ferric phosphate pellets around the crop.
Q How do I harvest carrots?
A Baby carrots can be harvested from around nine weeks after sowing, but maincrop carrots will need at least 12 weeks to mature. Short carrots, such as chantenay types, can be hand-pulled. Longer carrots will need to be gently lifted using a digging fork.
Caption: Harvest carrots as and when you need them
Q How do I store carrots?
A You can leave carrots in the ground until January. Or, store them in a cold, dry, dark space, such as a garage or shed.
Caption: Store carrots in trays and check over regularly to remove any rotten ones