Edible garden: Growing carrots
Carrots are legendary for being a rich source of vitamin A, calcium, trace elements and fibre, and given the right soil conditions, carrots are easy to grow.
In warmer areas (most of the North Island), carrots can be grown all year round – choose from a range of types and shapes to suit the season.
In cooler districts, carrots are usually sown from spring through to December. For a continuous supply of tasty carrots, sow in succession about every three weeks.
Depending on the variety, the carrots will mature in 10-16 weeks.
Sow carrot seeds directly into your garden bed – they do not take well to transplanting. Prepare your garden bed well – carrots thrive in deep, well-drained, light soil. If your soil is too shallow to allow good root development your carrots will be misshapen. Raised beds are ideal if you have heavy soils, or try some in a container.
Sow carrot seeds to a depth of approximately 1cm in moist, lightly tamped down soil. As the seeds are very fine, I usually take a pinch of seeds at a time, dropping them onto the soil at spacings of about 2-3 cm.
Or you can scatter-throw the seeds in small blocks. It's best to sow thinly to avoid too much thinning later.
The carrots will appear in 8-16 days and will need to be thinned to 3-5cm between plants. Thinning can be done in two stages – early thinning to avoid over-crowding, and a second thinning when the carrots reach edible size. The second thinnings are great for salads or stir-frys.
It is important to keep carrots evenly moist at all times during their growing season. They don't like drought – it causes them to develop a strong flavour. But neither do they like being over-watered, which causes woodiness. Drying out followed by watering towards maturity will cause splitting.
Carrots will be ready for harvesting in 10-16 weeks.