Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They can be planted directly in the soil, but they flourish in pots, too. This makes them a great option for people with small plots or balcony gardens. Carrots can be harvested within about 50 days of planting, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labors within a short time frame.
Instead of composting your carrot tops, you can use this section of the carrot to grow new carrots. Place the carrot top in a shallow dish, and fill it with water. Make sure to keep the dish in a sunny spot such as a window sill. You will need to replace the water every two to three days.
Once new shoots sprout, plant the carrot tops in the garden or in a deep pot. Use high-quality soil and water the carrots every day; you should be able to harvest the new carrots in 40 to 50 days.
Choose a pot at least 1.5 feet deep for to allow sufficient space for the roots to grow. Make sure that there are plenty of drainage holes as extremely damp soil can cause your veggies to rot. Plant carrot seeds about 1/2 an inch into the soil and two inches apart. Once the sprouts start to show, surround each plant with mulch for extra nourishment. Weed carefully and watch out for slugs in the first few weeks.
You have many options for carrots beyond the standard long orange variety. Experiment with heritage varieties and you will have a colorful plate and a possible new favorite veggie. Purple, white, and bright red varieties of carrots are available, though for growing from carrot tops, farmer's markets might be a better bet than the grocery store.
Carrots need a minimum of one inch of water each week and if you don't get enough rainfall in your region, you will need to supplement. Make sure the soil is soaked, as only watering the surface will cause the roots to grow more shallowly, resulting in round carrots. Water drains away more quickly in sandy soil, so such mediums require more regular waterings.
Carrots require at least six hours of full sunshine each day. They do grow in partial shade, such as on balconies, but a sunny spot is best for optimal results. If you have a container garden, you may want to move your carrots around to ensure that they get as much sun as possible each day. In the ground, make sure that other plants don't block their light.
Carrots grow well in cooler climates. They should be planted in early Spring, about three weeks before the last frost. If you want a continuous supply, plant your last crop about three months before the first frosts of Fall. Check on the exact cultivar you have chosen, as some carrot varieties should be planted in the summer months only.
The most common pest to affect carrots is the carrot rust fly. The larvae of this pest tunnel into the roots and destroy the plants. A floating row cover is a good method for keeping the flies off your crop. Yellow sticky fly traps can also be set up nearby to trap the adult flies before they lay their eggs.
To keep your carrots free from damaging ailments, choose a cultivar that is disease-resistant. This gives you a better chance from the start for a healthy crop. Make sure that your soil is evenly moist, as damp soil can promote rot. Weed your carrots on a regular basis — diseases such as aster yellows are transmitted by insects that lay their eggs on weeds.
Carrots don't grow properly in stony soils or heavy clay. If your garden has these properties, you will want to prepare a raised bed or container with potting soil, instead. Filling an area of your garden with organic matter and compost will create the perfect home for these veggies. Stop adding compost a few weeks before planting, or the roots will not form correctly.
Fertilize your soil with phosphorus before and after planting the carrots. You can use an organic source, such as bonemeal or rock phosphate. Carrots grow best in a soil pH of between 6.2 and 6.8. If the reading is too high, you can add elemental sulfur to drop the pH level.