Carrot seeds

Carrot seeds

Growing your own carrots is very popular and it's easy to understand why. Carrots are easy to grow and taste incredibly delicious when grown at home.

Carrots are usually divided into two groups depending on when they are usually harvested and how well they store. However, the boundaries are somewhat fluid and it often works fine to store summer carrots and eat winter carrots in the summer. The seed packet often contains a detailed recommendation on the characteristics of each variety. The most common color of the root is orange, but colors like yellow and purple are becoming increasingly common. An interesting feature is also the so-called Harlequin, rainbow blends where seed from several different varieties have been mixed in the packet and give rise to a variety of colors on the carrots.

Growing conditions:
An open, preferably windy and sunny growing site is always preferred when growing carrots. The soil, preferably a rich sandy soil, should hold moisture well without becoming too wet during rainy periods. When growing in clay soils, it is important to add ample amounts of organic material such as compost or similar to make the soil less compact. It is important that the soil is free of stones, large and small. Stones in the soil lead to the carrot branching when it encounters a stone and thus becoming crooked or developing side roots. Of course, it does not affect the yield or taste other than in appearance, but it may be good to know why the carrot sometimes looks strange.

Carrots are not particularly demanding in terms of nutrients, and it's important to be careful not to use too much nitrogen-rich fertilizers such as grass clippings, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth and smaller roots. Instead, use fertilizers rich in potassium and phosphorus. When using manure such as horse and cow dung, it's important to make sure it's well composted, as there have been studies that show fresh straw can increase attacks from the carrot fly.

Spring planting:
Carrot seeds are always sown from seeds, usually in the spring in April-May. Because carrot seeds are not sensitive to low temperatures in the soil during the germination process, it's also possible to sow them in the fall and winter. The seeds generally have a high germination rate, so it's important not to sow them too closely together. Information about spacing can be found on the seed packet, but a rule of thumb can be 5 cm between plants in the row and 20-25 cm between rows. Mark the rows with sticks to make them easier to see during the first weeding. The time from sowing to emergence depends entirely on the conditions, especially the temperature. An optimal germination temperature is within the range of 17-22 degrees Celsius, and germination can be expected in about a week. Lower temperatures mean a longer and more irregular germination period. Higher temperatures, on the other hand, can cause the seeds to go into dormancy and not germinate at all. It's important to keep in mind, especially when sowing in boxes and other containers above ground that can become very hot in the sun. Sow on a well-prepared site where the top layer has been loosened and raked. If it's dry, water the soil the day before sowing.

Fall/winter planting:
When sowing in the fall and winter, it's important not to sow too early because we don't want the seeds to germinate too early. The appropriate planting time in the central parts of the country is therefore during the period November-March. The important thing is that the soil temperature is below 5 degrees Celsius so that the seed is not tempted to germinate prematurely in the fall. When the spring sun comes out, the seed also wakes up and germination begins. By planting in the fall/winter, you can harvest your carrots much earlier than from plantings in the spring.

After emergence, it's important to continuously weed the area. Carrots are not good at competing with weeds, and they also grow slowly in the beginning. If the germination has been successful, it may happen that the small delicate plants are too close together, and then it's important to thin them out. The first thinning should be done as soon as it's possible to handle the individual plants, and the remaining plants should have 3-4 cm to the nearest neighboring plant. By not thinning to the final distance immediately, you will be able to harvest small, delicious baby carrots at the second thinning, which should be done when the plants start to crowd again. To prevent the top of the carrot that sticks up from the ground from turning green, it's important to mound up soil around the plants. It's usually enough to mound up the soil twice, but with good growth and heavy rain, the carrots may still stick up, and then it's good to mound them up one more time. The green parts of the carrot, however, are completely edible (unlike green potatoes), but they are often a bit bitter, so mounding up soil is often a good measure.

Carrots can be harvested and eaten at any stage and size. For winter consumption, the carrots can remain in the ground for as long as possible, and during mild winters when the ground is not frozen, they can be continuously harvested throughout the winter season. If you live in an area where the ground typically freezes, the carrots can be stored in a root cellar or pit instead. The optimal temperature for storage is 1-3 degrees Celsius.

Carrot fly larvae create tunnels in the carrots, which deteriorates their storage properties. By placing the crop in an open and windy location, the risk of infestation can be significantly reduced. You can also cover the crop with a floating row cover so that the insect cannot lay eggs on the young carrots. There is also an insect called the carrot miner fly that causes similar damage. However, these attacks are rarely severe, and the superficial damage can often be cut away during preparation.

Aphids sometimes attack and are often a sign that it is too dry, stuffy, and warm. Ensure that fresh air can circulate around the plants and that there is sufficient moisture in the soil. A confirmed infestation can be treated with plant care products such as soap or by simply rinsing the aphids off with cold water.

The carrot psyllid is a so-called host-alternating pest. It overwinters as an adult on conifers, then seeks out and lays eggs on mainly carrots, although other umbelliferous plants such as parsley and coriander can also be attacked when spring arrives. The adult insect sucks plant sap from the carrot and at the same time injects a toxin that causes the carrot's leaves to curl up and stop growing. Infestations of the carrot psyllid are difficult to control, but covering the crop thoroughly with a floating row cover makes it more difficult for the egg-laying females to access the plants. It is also important to remove and bury infested plants as soon as they are detected to reduce the number of new insects for the coming year.

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