This year was the first year I planted a spring garden. I had started a CSA and wanted to provide several weeks of produce for my shares. Carrots were included in that garden, and I had a lot of success with them. Many of the vegetables I planted in the spring are suitable for a fall garden. This will be my first fall garden, so I’ve decided to give it a try this year and want to be sure to include carrots.
Tips for planting carrots in the fall garden:
- Determine your date of first frost in your area. and count back 10-12 weeks to determine your planting dates. My dates are anywhere between October 9 through November 10. That means I’m running a little late and should have planted a couple of weeks ago. But, I can extend that season by using a row cover over the plants if I need to. I did that this spring when we had a late frost.
- Plant carrots that are right for your soil. Last year I planted 1/2 long Dantes in a raised bed. My soil is heavy clay, and rather than try to amend a large area, I chose to use the raised bed method. The 1/2 longs are miniature carrots and have a sweet taste. Other options are Nantes which are fast growing, easy to grow, and do well in a number of soils. Chantenay carrots are stocky and do well in cool soils, and even become sweeter as the weather cools.
- Prepare your soil by digging at least 12″ down. Carrots like loose soil, or you may have forked, misshaped carrots.
- Add 1″ compost to the bed. Go easy on nitrogen and high manure compost. I used a mushroom compost last year, or you can use your own homemade compost.
- Traditional methods tell you plant the carrot seeds 2″ apart in rows 10″ apart. Have you seen carrot seeds? They are beyond tiny. I also plant using an intensive method, with much less space between the seeds. I use a hand held injector type seed planter, which helps with small seeds, but I don’t worry about how close. When the plants come up, I carefully thin.
- Keep the soil moist for 10-14 days after sowing carrot seeds. This may mean you have to water daily. Don’t let the soil become crusty. I water with a watering can with a fine stream to prevent dislodging the small seeds. Keep them watered throughout the growing season.
- When carrots start to grow, the tops may come out of the soil. Keep those covered with soil, or they will turn green.
- Keep the weeds down. You can mulch between rows with newspaper or cardboard strips. I planted radishes between my rows in the spring for my CSA shares, but I’m not a fan of radishes, so this year I will just mulch. You don’t want the tiny carrots to compete with weeds.
- Harvest your carrots when they are mature. Carefully dig down to see if they are ready, and gently dig them out. The seed packet should give you an estimate of days to maturity, so that should give you an idea of when to start checking.
There are many choices of vegetables to plant for the fall garden. Carrots, lettuce, broccoli, radishes, and garlic are just a few you may want to try this fall. After a long hot summer, the cool weather of fall beckons me back to the garden.
Happy Fall Gardening!