Carrots are easy to grow in the north under the right conditions. The keys to doing this successfully are to choose the right variety of carrot to fit the growing season and provide them with the right type of soil. It’s also important to water and fertilize correctly as well as watching out for certain pests and diseases.
Vegetable Type: Annual
Name: Daucus carota
Genus: Parsley Family
How to Grow Carrots
When: Plant as soon as soil temps have warmed above 55 degrees and all danger of frost has passed.
Light: Full sun to light shade.
Soil Type: A mix of sandy/loamy soil that is loose and well-draining. Soil should be free of stones and clumps.
Sowing: Direct sow seeds and thin to 1” apart when seedlings first appear. Thin again to 2-3” apart when seedlings are about 1” tall.
Spacing: ¼” deep in rows 16-18” apart.
Watering: 1” of water per week. Keep soil evenly moist with a deep soaking. Test soil up to 4” deep for dryness before watering.
Fertilization: Use fertilizers rich in potassium or year old manure when carrot tops have reached 3" in height.
Mulching: Once carrots reach 3-4” in height, mulch around and between rows to help retain moisture and discourage weeds.
Care: Cultivate lightly around carrots to keep weeds to a minimum, making sure not to disturb the roots. If the tops of carrots emerge before they are ready to be harvested, gently cover them with loose soil or mulch to keep them from turning green.
Additional Carrot Growing Information
It’s important to give carrots loose soil to grow in to keep them from forking. Forking is when the roots branch out instead of forming one solid, tapered root.
Carrot Pest and Disease Control
Carrot Root Fly: Maggots that feed on roots damaging or killing them. If the carrot root fly is a problem, harvest as soon as carrots are ready. The Royal Horticultural Society lists several ways to treat carrot root flies organically.
Flea Beetles: Adults are 1/10 of an inch long and bronze, brown or black in color with long legs. They leave behind lots of small holes in cabbage leaves. Gently cultivate soil around plants to kill flea eggs. Control adults with floating row covers.
Forked Roots: Amend soil so it is loose and well-draining to prevent forked roots.
Excess Tops and No Roots: Lots of green tops and little or no roots are typically caused by too much nitrogen in the soil. To prevent this, conduct a home soil test that can be picked up at lawn and garden centers and amend the soil accordingly. Also, make sure to thin seedlings, giving them ample room to grow.
How to Harvest Carrots
Always consult the back of seed packets for average days to maturity at which time carrots will be ready to harvest. Most varieties will show their tops when ready for harvest. Grab the greens as close to the tops as possible and twist and pull, gently shaking the carrot while doing so.
Storage and Preservation Tips
Mature carrots can be left in the ground for storage as long as the ground doesn’t freeze. Eat carrots fresh, store in a dry root cellar, or can or blanch and freeze for later use.
Best Varieties of Carrots to Grow in the North
Nelson Hybrid: Nantes type. Extra-early variety. Almost coreless and dark orange in color. Smooth and straight roots. Does not taper. 58 days.
Rainbow Blend: Mix of purple, white, red & yellow carrots. Each has it’s own taste and texture. Exciting variety to grow with kids. 58-65 days.
Nandrin Hybrid: 8-14” long. Extra-large variety. Tender and juicy. Great for juicing or cooking. 65 days.
Sugarsnax Hybrid: 9-11” long and very sweet in flavor. Cans and freezes well. A good variety for the north. 68 days.
Tendersnax Hybrid: 5-6” long with blunt tips. Ultra-sweet variety. Very juicy and tender. Disease resistant. 68 days.
Chantenay Red Core: 5 ½” long. Great for small gardens or containers. High-yielding variety. Orange-red in color throughout. 68 days.