Interested in beginning the hobby of gardening and not sure where to start? Well look no further – carrots are an ideal choice for gardeners new to the craft and widely praised as a staple for the experienced gardener. This vegetable is a popular beginner’s choice because it’s rather easy to grow, even for children, it can be planted very early in spring for, and is quick to grow, ready to eat within a little over two months. All this goes without mentioning the nutritional benefits of carrots, which are low in calories, high in dietary fiber, and full of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotenes. They can also be used and preserved in a variety of ways so that it may be enjoyed in a series of different dishes all throughout the year. Better yet, they grow in a series of colors beyond orange which can create a rainbow in your garden as well as on your plate!
Soil and pH
Proper fertilization begins at the foundation – your soil. You don’t know what to add to it, or if you should add anything at all, if you don’t know what nutrients your plant is getting from the soil itself. Not all soil is the same!
Carrots prefer balanced soil that’s non-acidic, neutral to alkaline, and well-draining. They won’t grow if the soil is too If you’re planting outside and hoping you can use the soil in your own backyard, you’ll want to dig into it and find out just what it’s like. You’ll want to make sure it’s free of rocks and other debris. When you try to pick up a clump, it should be friable and crumble effortlessly. Clay-laden dirt is far too thick to support carrot growth, and will require mending if you intend to grow really anything in it. Composting is the ideal way to start mending soil that’s rife with clay, and is also a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste for organic farming!
The ideal pH levels for carrots are between 6.0 and 6.5, to foster the sweetest and largest roots you can achieve. Many local garden centers and stores are able to test the pH levels of your soil for you if you simply bring in a sample. Alternatively there are plenty of simple pH tests gardeners can take home and use themselves. If you don’t have one of these tests, a simple way to test the alkaline level for your carrot’s sake is to take about half a cup of white vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, your soil is too alkaline for the carrots to grow properly if at all.
If the soil in your backyard just isn’t going to cut it, you can do the work to adjust it. My suggestion is to take it to a local garden center of whom will have more personal knowledge to your area and tips on how to best adjust the pH levels for the soil in your area. Alternatively you could always pot-grow them in some potting soil if you’d prefer to avoid this extensive work altogether.
Best Fertilizer for Carrots
If your soil doesn’t already provide your plants with nutrition, it will be important for you to fertilize them. No part of growing a carrot is all that all that complicated, but there are a few different things to keep in mind when picking the most ideal product for fertilizing carrots.
First thing to know is what the three numbers on the bag mean. Respectively, these numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. An ideal beginner’s mix is 10-10-10 since it’s straightforward and even mix that can be utilized for several different kind of vegetables if you’re exploring vegetable gardening. However, if you’re honing in on carrots specifically and want to go above and beyond, then simply focus on fertilizers that are low in nitrogen. I recommend 5-10-10 or perhaps even 5-15-15. If your soil is already a bit acidic, though, don’t add any more nitrogen at all and look for a bag with a zero as it’s first number.
Why? Well nitrogen, which increases the acidity in soil that carrots aren’t fond of, is best for the growth in the leaves of your plant. This is good for other types of plants, but carrots are a root-vegetable. Phosphate and potassium are fantastic for encouraging root growth, which is exactly where the rich levels of potassium in carrots comes from.
How to Fertilize
You can get different types of fertilizer depending on what method of application suits you and your garden best. I suggest granular, since it’s easy to apply and usually less acidic than liquid, but carrots are pretty hardy so just make sure to apply everything evenly. Pro tip: only use half of the fertilizer suggested by the manufacturer! You can always add more to encourage a boost in growth, but you can’t remove nutrients that have already been absorbed. If your soil isn’t rich in nutrients naturally then you’ll definitely need to fertilize when your carrot tops reach at least 3 inches/7.5 cm in height.
You can tell if you’re over-fertilizing if your carrots are forked or appear hairy with root growth. These carrots are still eatable, but have a far less superior flavor. Moderation is key if you want to grow long, straight, sweet root veggies!
If you intend on growing your carrots organically, you need to begin the process by composting your soil first and foremost. You’ll need well-composted materials added to the soil at a two parts soil to one part compost ratio, give or take depending. Don’t hold back, but probably don’t exceed a 50/50 compost-soil mixture.
Otherwise, fertilization should begin just before planting your carrots and after loosening your soil. Mix a thin top layer of this soil with fertilizer. How much soil you mix it with depends on how and where you’re growing your carrots, but regardless of how you grow them be sure to apply fertilizer evenly and avoid concentrating it in spots, as this could be harmful to your carrots’ growth.