The crunchy powerhouse of nutrition, carrot is a very easy vegetable to grow in your home garden. Growing carrots in containers might sound weird to many but it is definitely possible if you have large sized pots and manure rich soil. Though there are several coloured carrots available worldwide, the long orange coloured one is mostly available and used in India.
Season: Carrot is a cool crop and the ideal time to sow seeds would be anytime after June. It is an annual vegetable so you can harvest carrots all through the year if you have a handful of seeds.
Location Constraints: Like all greens and vegetables, carrots also require plenty of water, well drained soil and sufficient sunlight. Choose a spot that receives equal hours of sunshine and shade and place the carrot containers.
Sunlight: Once you sow the seeds, carrots will require six hours of sunlight everyday up until they germinate. After the seedlings come up, a couple of hours of bright sunlight are enough for the root to develop. If you are sowing the seeds just after summer keep a check on the daytime temperature and move the containers into shade if the day gets hot.
Spacing: Make 2inch deep holes in the pot to sow the seeds. Carrot seeds are very tiny and it is extremely difficult to pick them one by one and space them in the container. Instead you can dig small holes, sow two three seeds together and space them after germination by picking away the smaller ones. Thoroughly water them immediately after sowing.
Growth: In a span of two weeks, you should be able to see tiny sprouts. Once the sprouts come up, the root below also starts developing. After 2months from the time of seed sowing, medium sized carrots grow. When you sow the seeds, ensure that the soil is debris and block free. Debris can taper the root, making carrots crooked.
Height and Spreading: Carrot leaves do not grow longer than 3 to 4 inches. They spread upto a maximum height of 6 inches depending upon the variety you have sown. Always use large containers so that the root gets enough leg space.
Temperature: Though carrot is a cool crop, it will still require warmth for germination and growth. An optimum temperature of 30degrees Celsius is enough. Temperature fluctuation can either speed up or slow down the growth process. Use shades when temperatures rise or dip.
Watering: During the seed sowing stage, carrots will require plenty of water. Keeping the soil surface moist is important. After you see leaf growth, start a watering schedule and stick to it. Loose soil is very advantageous for carrot crop. If you see water stagnating in the pot, let it out and skip watering for a day.
Nutrient Management: Manure rich soil is more than enough for home grown carrots. However, if you spot slow, stunted growth in the leaves and roots, use vermi compost near the roots. But in most varieties of carrot, the use of a fertiliser is not necessary.
:Harvesting of carrots: In a short span of two months, carrots are ready for harvest. Always pick the healthy, matured carrots first and leave smaller ones to develop. Loosen the soil with a fork and pluck the carrot without damaging it.
Uses and health benefits: The beta carotene present naturally in carrots is found to improve eyesight, skin, hair and nails. A recent study also found that carrots can reduce the risk of cancers by boosting the immunity. The vitamin A content of carrots reduces fat and bile in the liver, thereby cleansing the body. A regular dose of carrots can make your family healthy in every way possible.
Additional Information: If you want to prolong your carrot harvest, sow seeds in new pots every two weeks. That way you will loads of carrots in your home garden.