It's hard to imagine a flourishing vegetable garden without carrots.
It's actually pretty easy to grow them from seed
so long as you bear in mind a few golden rules.
In this video, we'll show you the whole process
for growing them, from sowing to lifting,
so you can be confident of enjoying trouble-free roots every time.
In the ground, within raised beds, or on the patio in tubs,
carrots can be grown just about anywhere.
They prefer full sun and well-dug, stone-free soil.
Beds improved with well-rotted compost are ideal,
though very recently-manured beds may cause the roots to fork.
For best results, follow carrots on from
a heavy feeding vegetable such as cabbage.
There are many different types of carrot to choose from.
Stump-rooted and finger sized carrots are quickest,
and may be grown on heavier soils
that would cause longer roots to fork.
Medium- or long-rooted carrots can be grown in lighter soils
or in raised beds or deep containers filled with potting soil.
Maincrop types are perfect for sowing later in spring
to produce roots for winter storage.
Carrots don't just come in orange -
try one of the many colorful alternatives,
including purple, yellow, white and red roots.
Sow carrots from early spring to mid-summer
to be lifted from late spring to early winter.
Stored roots will tide you over until the following spring.
Make the earliest sowings of fast-growing early varieties
into greenhouse or polythene tunnel beds,
or pots kept under cover.
You can also sow earlier outside by using row covers or cold frames.
Our Garden Planner can help you to work out
exactly when to start sowing.
Simply select and drop in a row or block of carrots,
then click the accompanying Plant List
for sow and harvest dates based on your location.
Adding crop protection - in this instance a row cover -
will adjust sow and harvest dates accordingly.
Click back onto the Plant List, and we can see that
the dates are now half a month sooner
than the carrots without protection.
For a continuous supply of carrots
you'll need to sow a row every 2-3 weeks,
with the final sowing made in midsummer
using a maincrop variety.
Carrots do not like being transplanted,
so it's best to sow them directly where they are to grow.
Remove all stones from the soil -
- if a carrot root hits a stone it will fork -
then rake the soil to a fine tilth.
Now mark out your seed rows.
The seed drill should be about a quarter inch (1cm) deep
with rows spaced about 6 inches (15cm) apart
depending on the variety you are sowing.
Sprinkle pinches of the seeds thinly along the row,
then close the soil back to cover the seeds.
Carrot seeds are very small, so to make sowing easier
you can mix the seeds with dry sand
which will help to spread the seeds out evenly within the row.
Once you're done, label the row with the variety and date.
To sow into tubs, fill containers with potting soil
then gently tamp down to firm.
Sow the seeds very thinly over the top,
then cover with a quarter-inch (1cm) layer of potting soil.
Water, then label.
Carrot flies - or rather, their maggots -
are notorious for damaging the roots.
To thwart this low-flying insect,
cover the ground with a row cover or fleece immediately after sowing.
Take care to secure the edges of the cover so there are no gaps.
Keep covers in place throughout the life of the crop.
Container-grown carrots are very easy to shield from carrot fly
by simply raising the container up off the ground.
Alternatively, grow companion plants such as leeks
next to your carrots to confuse the flies.
Our Garden Planner features a handy Companion Planting filter.
Simply click on your carrots,
then select the Companion Planting button
to show suitable companion plants in the selection bar.
You can now select and drop in your companion next to your carrots.
Or, double-click on the carrots to bring up the varieties box
where you can read variety descriptions including those
showing some resistance to carrot fly.
Any clumps of seedlings can be thinned out as necessary
by very carefully pulling any excess out.
This can however dislodge the roots of neighboring seedlings,
so alternatively you can use scissors
to snip off the foliage instead.
Do this on a still day to prevent the carrot smell
alerting nearby carrot flies.
Sometimes carrots can bolt - when they run to seed
before they've had a chance to form their roots.
Keeping the soil moist in dry weather will help to avoid this,
while regularly removing weeds will minimize competition
for available moisture and nutrients.
Carrots don't normally need additional feeding,
but occasional mulching with a light-blocking organic mulch
will help prevent the tops turning green.
Lift the carrots as soon as they reach the right size.
The size of the top of the root poking out of the soil
is often a good guide,
or gently dig away the soil from around it to get a better look.
Harvest alternate carrots so those left can grow bigger.
Smaller finger-sized or stump-rooted carrots
have an irresistibly tender texture, while chunkier maincrop types
may need easing out of the ground with a fork.
In places with mild winters,
carrots can be left in the ground to harvest as needed.
Alternatively dig up the roots,
twist off the foliage then store in boxes of damp sand
kept in a cool, dark place .
Crunchy, vibrant and incredibly good for you,
nothing compares to garden grown carrots.
I hope this video has convinced you to give carrots a go,
whether you've never grown them before
or if you've had bad luck with them in the past.
You can let us know how you get on in the comments section below,
and don't forget to share any clever growing tips or recipes
you might have while you're at it!
Now, the start of the growing season is an incredibly busy time,
but remember to take a step back every now and then
to really admire it all - and to put your feet up
and indulge in even more gardening videos.
The best way to do that of course is subscribe - to our video channel!
I'll catch you next time.