Growing Carrots

The carrot, a hardy annual or biennial, known botanically as Daucus carota sativa (Umbelliferae), was introduced to England from Europe in the reign of Queen Eliza-beth, by the Flemings. There are four distinct types varying in shape suitability to different seasons, conditions, and time of maturity.


  • Short-horn: short conical or globe-shaped for early forcing in hot bed for sowing November/february, or summer catch crops.
  • Stump-rooted: cylindrical blunt-rooted for frames, cloches and first early sowings out of doors.
  • Intermediate: slender in shape but shorter than the long rooted. Used as a main crop for storing where soil is shallow or heavy clay.
  • Long-rooted: tapering roots for storing and exhibition.


Carrots do best in deep, well-cultivated sandy loam, preferably well manured for the previous crop. Fresh manure causes forking and excessive top growth. Apply a good compound fertiliser 7-10 days prior to sowing. This may be fish, meal or 3 parts of superphosphate, 2 parts of sulphate of potash and 1 part of sulphate of ammonia, applied at 3 oz. Per square yard. Sow early crops thinly in drills 1 inch deep and 9 inches apart from November onwards in heat or under cloches in January or February as soon as the soil is workable. Growing Carrots

Thin the seedlings as required, using the young roots as they become fit for use. Outdoor sowing may begin in early March or when the ground is suitably dry. Successive sowings of short-horn and stump-rooted types made at 3 week intervals until the middle of June provide a continuous supply of young carrots throughout the summer.

Make drills for the main crop inch deep and 12- 15 inches apart. Postpone sowings of main crop for storing until late May or June where carrot fly is troublesome. Thin main crop to 2 inches when the seedlings are large enough to handle, finally thinning to 6 inches. As a pre-caution against carrot fly, draw soil towards the rows after thinning, and dust with lindane. Lift for winter storing in October. Carefully lift the roots with a fork and cut the tops to inch above the root. Store in layers of dry sand or ash in a cool shed or where the quantity is large, use the clamp method as for potatoes. The store must not be damp or soft rot will result. Where cloches or frames are available, make a sowing of a stump-rooted variety in August out of doors and place the cloches in position in October for pulling November and December.

Hoe throughout the season to keep down weeds and to keep the soil surface crumbly. Careful watering throughout the season obviates root cracking which occurs when a period of drought is followed by heavy rain. As a result slugs and millipedes find their way into the root, and are blamed for the severe damage. With good crop rotation and cultivation there should be little difficulty with pests or diseases. Carrot fly, however, can cause serious damage.

Among the reliable varieties are: Short-horn: Earliest French Horn and Early Nates. Stump-rooted: Red Coned Early Market. Intermediate: St. Valery. Main crop: Jame’s Scarlet Intermediate.

More On Carrots

These may be divided according to the length of their roots, viz. long, intermediate or short, and also according to shape, viz, tapering or stump rooted (cylindrical). The short, stumptrooted varieties are used for early crops; longer stump-rooted varieties are the most popular for general use, long tapered carrots being grown primarily for exhibition.

Soil for intermediate and long types must be dug deeply, but stumptrooted varieties will thrive with shallower cultivation. Dung and compost should not be applied, though it is an advantage if ground can be chosen that has been manured for some previous crop. Prior to sowing give sulphate or muriate of potash at 1 oz. per square yard, superphosphate at 2 oz. per square yard, and sulphate of ammonia at oz. per square yard.

Sow the seed of a stumptrooted variety for the earliest crop in a sheltered position outdoors in early March. Even earlier sowings can be made in a frame or under handlights. Sow thinly in drills in. deep and 8 in. apart. No thinning will be required until the most forward are ready for use; the remainder will be left to grow on. Make further small sowings of a stump-rooted variety every three weeks or so until the middle of June to give a successional supply of young roots for summer and early autumn use. Sow maincrop carrots for storing about the middle of April. Drills should be in. deep and 12-15 in. apart, and the seedlings must be thinned to about 4 in. apart. Maincrop carrots should be dug in mid-September before the roots get too tough and start to crack. Store in sand or ashes.

Reliable varieties are Early Scarlet Horn, Chantenay, Early Nantes, James’s Intermediate, St Valery, and Autumn King.

Carrot fly is the commonest pest.

Leave a Comment