My calendar says December 19, and 20th are good days to plant root crops. So have I lost my mind by planting carrots now in December? We will see.
The food we plant and grow using organic seeds and methods results in the freshest, healthiest food we can consume. Just for fun, plant an easy, organic root crop as carrots.
Use part of one raised bed, preferably with a row cover, cold frame, or hoop house. Prepare the soil deeply so it is soft and loose, with no clods.
Top off the bed to the top of the raised bed frame by adding well-rotted compost containing old, rotted horse manure if available. If no rotted horse manure, carrots will settle for extra deep digging of the soil. If your soil is heavy clay, add some sand to the mixture. One person suggests raking in wood ashes, and a little lime, adding sweetness and potassium.
Growing in prepared soil with good drainage, carrot roots usually grow long and straight. Carrots grow octopus shaped because the soil needs deeper digging for a loose texture.
Use organic carrot seed, Danvers or Nantes are popular varieties. Pelletized seed is easily planted because carrot seed is very fine. Danvers carrots grow about 8 inches long while Nantes grows six to 8 inches long.
Plant seed using package directions. Sow seed thinly, as two seeds per inch. Carrots are slow to come up, so be patient. Allow them to grow to about ½-inch diameter, and then pull every other baby carrot to consume now. The others will happily continue to grow with more root space.
As the carrots grow, take care of weeds as they come up by pulling or cutting them off at the ground. When the carrots are up and growing, add a layer of mulch. Carrots will have green shoulders if root tops are exposed to light.
Once the carrots are thinned, mulched, and growing nicely, care is very easy. Mulch, plus a row cover or hoop house will assist with temperature control and in keeping bugs away, especially earwigs and slugs, which enjoy fresh vegetables too.
Hungry deer will munch green tops of carrots but spreading chicken wire or another sturdy wire barricade across the planting will discourage four-footed visitors.
To harvest carrots, use a spade or pitch fork and gently lift a portion of a row. Dig carrots because the tops are not strong enough to pull the roots up and they may break off.
Additionally, carrots can be stored right where they grow by simply placing about a foot of seedless straw on top of them. Carrots store this way until very early spring. Simply go out to the garden and dig a few for dinner as needed.