Poppy Okotcha provides advice on sowing vegetable seeds
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Carrots are the perfect vegetable to grow at home. They are relatively easy to grow and packed with nutrients. They take up little space in comparison to other allotment favourites, they can even be grown in containers. But knowing when is the best time to pick them can be a challenge.
A favourite of Peter Rabbit, carrots are loved by avid gardeners and it’s easy to see why.
These delicious veggies are quick and easy to grow.
Don’t feel you have to follow the crowd and grow the common orange varieties.
Carrots range in size shape and even colour, why not try to grow yellow, purple or even red types?
Once planted carrots require little attention making them perfect for low maintenance gardens.
Carrots are drought resistant so they won’t require lots of watering but, they will need a good soak if conditions are particularly dry.
When to harvest carrots
It can be a challenge to know when the best time is to pick carrots.
Too early and you will be left with a small crop, pick them too late and your carrots may be inedible.
You should always remember to keep your seed packet.
This is the first place you should look to give you an indication as to when your carrots will be mature enough to pick.
Different carrot varieties take longer to mature so the type of carrot you have planted is important to bear in mind.
The most common types will take around 75 days on average to reach full maturity.
Whilst baby carrots take between just 50 to 60 days to mature, making them the ideal option if you want to have a brimming veggie patch quickly.
But, what happens if you have lost your seed packet?
Don’t worry there are other ways to tell if your carrots have reached maturity.
When the shoulders of the carrots reach about 1.5 to 2cm in diameter, for common varieties, they should be ready to pick.
But, this is just a guideline, you may want to pull up a few carrots prematurely to check how they are doing.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends: “Harvest as soon as they’re large enough to use – don’t aim for the largest roots or you’ll sacrifice flavour.”
To get your precious crop out of the ground simply lift the roots carefully, you can use a fork to help you if your soil is heavy.
It is easier to lift carrots when the soil is moist, if not try watering the ground beforehand.
This should prevent your carrots from breaking off when you pull them.
After you have pulled up your carrots water the soil again to help it settle around the remaining roots.
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