How to grow and harvest carrots

Carrots grow well and develop long straight roots when planted in loose, deep, rock-free, sandy loam soil.

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If you’re growing in clay soil, grow shorter and stumpy varieties or try growing in raised beds. You could improve the texture of clay soils by adding sand and organic matter such as compost. Carrots do well in cool weather and like slightly acidic soil that is moderately fertile. Plant carrot seeds directly into the soil rather than transplanting seedlings.

Step 1
Loosen soil deeply and sprinkle one handful of 2:3:4 fertiliser for every square meter of soil. Mix the soil and fertiliser thoroughly and even out the surface with a rake. Carrots don’t grow well in soil with too much recently added nitrogen, raw manure or compost.

Step 2
Make rows at least 30cm apart and sow the seeds 2cm deep and about 5cm apart. Water the seeds regularly, always keeping the soil moist.

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Step 3
Carrot seeds take up to two to three weeks to germinate, and two to four months to mature fully, depending on the variety. Apply topdressing one to two months after planting and work it in lightly. Exposed shoulders can turn green and bitter, so cover the shoulders with mulch. Remove weeds regularly.

Step 4
Look out for pests and treat with recommended chemicals or organic remedies.

Step 5
Harvest three to four months after planting. The stem often breaks off when carrots are harvested. To avoid this, irrigate before harvesting and then pull them out.

Source: Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Phone the ARC on 0800 427 0000 (toll free) or fax: 012 430 5814.