Carrots grow best in raised beds. The soil should be tilled to a depth of at least eight inches.
Compost can be added to the soil, but you should avoid adding manure to your carrot bed. If you have wood ashes, you can work the ashes into the bed.
Rake the carrot bed free of clods, rocks and other matter.
Since carrots are cool-season vegetables, they should be planted about ten days before the last predicted frost in your growing area.
Make furrows in the soil almost one inch deep. You can make many rows, just space them at least four inches apart. Some gardeners will space their rows a foot apart. The choice is up to you. However, try to keep your rows straight. This will help you identify weeds when they sprout.
Sow your seeds into the trenches. Space your seeds a half inch apart.
Cover your seeds with a thin layer of sifted peat moss. Then, cover with soil.
Lightly water the carrot bed. Carrots like to grow in moist soil, but they do not want to go swimming!
Place a sheet of clear plastic over your carrot bed. You can tack the plastic down to the wood that frames your raised bed, or you can tack it directly into the soil. The plastic cover will heat the carrot bed and promote germination.
Remove the plastic sheet to water your bed until your seedlings sprout. During this time, you should hand weed any pesky intruders. Once your seedlings sprout, remove the plastic permanently.
Start thinning your seedlings as soon as they are tall enough to grasp. Thinning is very important, as carrots can become stunted and deformed even at this stage in their development. Thin carrots so they are about three to four inches apart.
Once your carrots have been thinned, you should mulch the bed. Mulch with compost, chopped leaves or pine needles.
To keep pests from destroying your carrot crop, you can soak your bed with water and wood ashes once a week. This can be mixed in a large bucket or watering can.
Carrots are usually ready for harvest in about 80-90 days. You will recognize the largest carrots in your garden because they will have the greenest tops. Carrots are ready to pull when they are about an inch in diameter at their crown.
Before harvesting, you should soak the bed with water. This will make the carrots easier to pull.
When pulling, grasp the carrot by the greens. As you tug, you should make a twisting motion. If the greens happen to break off, you can remove the carrot with a spade.
Carrots can survie many weeks in the ground, but you should never let them go so long that they start to dry. If you do, they may split.
You can fertilize your carrots once or twice during their growing season. However, you should never add manure to your carrot beds.
Interplanting your carrot beds with onions and garlic will help to keep the pesky rust flies that love carrots away.