When to Plant Carrots
Carrots are grown as a cool season crop which means the seeds are sown when soil temperatures reach about 50 degrees F in the early spring. This will vary depending on where you live in the country. Purchasing and using a soil thermometer is the best way to ensure what your soil temperature reading is with every year. It is a fairly inexpensive purchase from your local garden center that you will use over and over again throughout your gardening years. Eventually, the planting time annually will be around the same time and it will become clear with this useful tool. Setting a reminder on your calendar or phone will be handy and a great reference tool.
Seed germination typically occurs at 55 to 75 degrees F being optimal for this crop. Carrots are most often directly sown into the soil and not transplanted from seedling as it could disrupt the growth of the taproot. Depending on the variety of carrot that is planted, the harvest can occur from as little as 50 days after planting to 100 days. Harvesting carrots is done in the summer months. Since each variety varies on harvest times, it is important to check this information on the seed packet.
Growing carrots in the fall for winter harvest is possible where temperatures stay above 32 degrees F and the soil doesn’t freeze solid. Typically seeds are planted in September or October for a winter harvest. Most southern states are only able to grow carrots during this time period as their summers are too hot for this crop. However, some states in the west coast region are able to plant and harvest later in the year as well.
Bolting or flowering can occur when seedlings are exposed to days of sub-50-degree temperatures. If bolting does occur, like with other vegetables and herbs, the quality of flavor diminishes and is no longer desirable. However, the flowering that does occur provides great nutrition for beneficial insects and other pollinators.
Since the carrot is a relative to Queen Anne’s Lace (Wild Carrot, Bishop’s Lace, Bird’s Nest) the umbrella-shaped flower and wispy foliage are very similar. Ranging in colors from pure white to antique white and even white blushed with pink highlights. Beneficial insects that are attracted to carrot flowers include Lacewing, Ladybug, Mealybug Destroyer, Minute Pirate Bug, Spider Mite Destroyer, Syrphid Fly, Tachinid Fly and Whitefly Parasitic Wasp.
Carrots are a great seed for beginning gardeners and wonderful for teaching children about growing their own food. The seeds are easy to plant and results of harvesting happen rather quickly compared to other vegetables. With minimal watering, thinning and maybe a little fertilizing, children can be an active participant in growing their own food and possibly love their veggies for doing it.
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