Happy International Carrot Day! That’s right—April 4 is International Carrot Day, a day dedicated to celebrating carrots, the carotene-rich root vegetable that is a quintessential part of any garden.
If you want to try your hand at growing carrots, you probably have a basic idea of how to begin. You know you’ll need a place to plant them—in your backyard, perhaps. And you know you’ll need to water them. And weeding … well, it’s not fun, but you’re willing to pull out rogue plants so your carrots can shine.
But achieving the best results growing carrots may require a little more thought and planning. To give you the best chance at harvesting a delightful carrot crop, here are three less obvious items and tools you should consider.
1. Raised Garden Beds
Granted, raised garden beds aren’t a necessity for growing carrots. But they can make a big difference if your natural soil is problematic.
I tried for years to grow carrots in the clay soil on my farm, but they never grew particularly large or attractive. Everything changed when I switched to growing carrots in raised beds filled with rich, fluffy compost generated from horse manure. Carrots like loose and even sandy soil, so the compost fit the bill.
Now I harvest large, picturesque carrots from my garden.
2. Protective Fencing
For best success growing carrots, you may need to install fencing to stop animals from having a feast. The classic image of Bugs Bunny munching away on a carrot is a little deceiving since wild rabbits aren’t in the habit of uprooting carrots to eat the roots. But aboveground leafy greens are fair game for rabbits, deer and other types of wildlife.
If you’ve planted carrots in a raised garden bed, a relatively short fence of chicken wire or hardware cloth wrapped around the bed’s frame might be sufficient to keep out rabbits while still allowing easy access for weeding, watering and harvesting. But to keep out deer, you may have to enclose your garden inside an 8-foot perimeter deer fence.
Building one isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, we have some tips for doing so below.
3. Flame Weeder
Carrot seeds are slow to germinate. It can take a couple of weeks or more. That leaves a lot of time between planting and germination for weeds to sprout and compete for water and nutrients.
One organic approach to dealing with weeds is to use a flame weeder, which kills weeds by briefly subjecting them to intense heat. The strategy is to kill the weeds shortly before the carrots are slated to sprout, so that the carrots emerge into a weed-free bed.
A flame weeder isn’t perfect. Grasses and perennial plants with established roots may need to be flame-weeded multiple times before they give up. But a flame weeder can significantly reduce the weeds in a garden bed and do so without disturbing the soil, which would encourage more weeds to sprout.
It goes without saying that a flame weeder must be used with caution. It shouldn’t be used around dry plant materials or in the midst of a drought. Indeed, you should steer clear of anything that’s at risk of catching fire—for example, the frames of wooden raised garden beds.
Protective footwear and pants are a must. And you should check on the legality of flame weeders in your area. You made need a permit to use one. To get the best results with a flame weeder, check out these tips for using one.
With a little extra effort and investment, you’ll soon be harvesting large, delicious carrots that would make Bugs Bunny proud. Have fun!