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Make Somebunny Happy
Grow Carrots in Your Organic Vegetable Garden

Organic Purple Dragon Carrot Organic Purple Dragon Carrot

Carrot varieties for every taste.

  • Colorful Carrots: Purple Dragon, Rainbow and Atomic Red
  • Carrots for Clay or Compacted Soils: Thumbelina, Parmex
  • Super Sweet Carrots: Sugarsnax, Sweetness II

Carrots are sweet, colorful and can put some crunch into any organic vegetable garden. There are lots of unusual, exciting and easy-to-grow carrot varieties on the market now, so even if you're not enthralled with "normal" carrots (the long, skinny orange ones), you can find plenty of varieties that will spark your interest. Just look in your favorite seed catalog: purple, yellow and red carrots, adorable mini carrots and oh-so-snackable round carrots will stare back at you from its pages.

Carrots can be a finicky crop to grow, but with a little patience and a lot of persistence, you will be able to get them established and growing well. There are two big obstacles that you will need to overcome in order to grow carrots successfully: getting them to germinate and preventing them from becoming overrun by weeds. Carrots prefer a loose rich soil and a smooth, well-prepared seed bed. If you have a compacted or clayey soil, consider growing a round carrot variety such as Parmex or a short variety like Danvers Half-Long.

When you seed your carrots, you'll need to be very careful not to let their garden bed dry out until they have germinated and their tops have started to develop. This can take as long as 2-4 weeks. Therefore, good irrigation is a must! Micro sprinklers are very useful in getting carrots up and at 'em but other types of irrigation will work well too. The key is to water frequently, in some cases more than once a day. Keeping a crust from forming on your soil surface will vastly improve your chances of success: carrots have a tough time pushing up through any type of dense or crusty soil.

Pelleted carrot seed, which is coated in a clay pellet (which may or may not contain non-organic ingredients such as fertilizers and fungicides) is an item which may help those of you who have lost all hope of getting carrots to germinate. Organically-approved pelleted carrot seeds are sold by Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Sowing your seed densely, at a rate of about 30 seeds per foot, will help boost your odds of hitting the carrot jackpot as well. Plan on thinning the young seedlings to a spacing of 3/4'' to 2'' apart if they happen to sprout too thickly.

Once the carrots are up, their tops develop very slowly and you will have to weed them very diligently until they develop enough leaves to shade out the weed seedlings themselves. If you make it to that phase, you're likely to have smooth sailing ahead.

Early spring is a good time to plant carrots in most areas of the US. In some areas, such as the Southeastern US, two crops of carrots can be grown per year: one in planted and harvested in the spring and the other sown in late summer for a fall harvest.

Carrots have few pests or disease problems. However, if you are unfortunate enough to get plagued by insect pests such as carrot rust flies or wireworms or have diseases such as Cercospora blight strike your crop, it won't seem that way. Practicing crop rotation (allowing at least three years to go by between planting carrots in the same garden location), avoiding planting carrots in freshly tilled sod and covering carrots with floating row covers to exclude insect pests will help keep your carrots pest and disease-free.

Harvest your carrots while they are young and tender. This will reduce the amount of pungent-tasting "rooty" carrots that you harvest. Most carrots are ready to harvest between 50 and 75 days after they are sown.

With consistent care and a little luck, your carrots with give you a bountiful harvest of delicious, nutritious roots. Slice a fresh garden carrot and dip it in ranch dressing--you'll taste a piece of heaven! Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Peter Rabbit. He appreciates your hard work so much that he'd smile at you, if his mouth weren't full of carrot!

For More Information:

Main Street Seed and Supply sells organic carrot seeds

http://www.mainstreetseedandsupply.com/vegetableseed.htm

Good Carrot Growing Tips

http://www.veganorganic.net/carrots.htm

Digg! digg it

Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.