While carrots can be difficult to grow if not properly cared for, they are a productive plant under optimum conditions. There are many varieties of carrots, so choosing a variety suited to the USDA hardiness zone you're planting them in yields the best growing results. Most grow best in zones 9 to 11. By understanding the life cycle of the carrot, you can thin them in stages and harvest fresh carrots continuously.
Optimum Growing Conditions
An area with a lot of dirt (free of rocks) and adequate drainage is necessary for proper growth of a carrot crop. Carrots grow best in loose soil. Adding rotted organic soils can help maximise carrot growth. Optimal growth temperature for root growth of the carrot is 15.0 to 17.7 degrees C. For shoot growth, the temperature should be slightly higher. In zone 10, as an example, the optimal growing season begins in September and ends in March.
Leaf and Shoot Production
Carrots produce leaves the first cycle of their growing season. These appear as leafy green shoots from the taproot. These shoots produce flowers and seeds during the second growing stage of the carrot.
The carrot goes through a period of dormancy. This stage can be interrupted if the dormancy period is warmer than usual. Without this dormant stage, the carrot will not produce its seeds. Carrots should be started growing about two weeks before the last expected frost. All carrots grow under the same conditions, so these timelines apply to any USDA hardiness zone.
The second cycle (after the dormant period) is when carrots produce seeds. The seeds are small. Seeds can be planted and begin to germinate between 10 and 12 days. You can begin harvesting your carrot crops between three and four months after germination and continue harvesting them year-round.
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