“Its curly green tops make a glamorous show
But I wonder if carrots are growing below”
One of the most gorgeous plants to grow, carrots can be a delightful rooting veggie to add to your urban farm – but only if Mumbai winters decide to co-operate!
SEASONS: Carrot plants are seasonal and need cool weather to grow properly. Root formation is best at temperatures between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius. So while seeds may germinate quickly, and grow out beautiful, fern-like leaves, its raison d’etre viz. edible carrot roots, will grow only if Mumbai enjoys a consistently cool winter.
PROPAGATING: Carrot plants are very easily propagated by seed.
GERMINATING: Germinate in November for a winter harvest (and cross your fingers that the winter will be cold). Carrots are best germinated directly in the ground as they do not take well to transplanting.
PLANTING OUT: Choose a sunny spot with neutral to alkaline, well-drained, very loose or sandy soil that does not have too much manure or compost in it. Heavily manured and composted soil will produce glamorous foliage with no carrot root to speak of. Hard, stony soil will give you forked carrots, or none at all because of the effort the plant has to expend to drill its way through. Sow carrot seeds in holes about 1/2 inch deep and 4 inches apart. Plant in deep containers or buckets, so growing roots get plenty of vertical space. Carrots will grow well in medium to large, deep containers, and on open plots.
NURTURING: Carrot plants will grow rapidly with regular watering and sunlight. A little bit of manure can be added – but only after 5-6 weeks. The carrot plant is a relatively disease-free plant and only needs regular weeding. Mulching is a good idea to prevent weeds around your carrot plants. Ensure that the soil in your carrot bed remains loose. One way to do this, besides careful raking, is to inter-plant with quickly growing radishes that do a marvelous job with breaking up hard earth.
HARVESTING: Carrot plants can be harvested from 1.5 months of growth until full maturity at 2.5 months. There is no clear indication when the roots would be ready, so just pull out a couple and taste the carrot to see if it has developed fullness of flavor. Your carrot plants will keep producing edible root all through winter, and until the weather changes by late February. When harvesting, use a gardening fork and gently pull out each carrot from the soil. After harvesting the plant for its carrot root, compost the plant, replenish the soil, and use that space for growing fruiting or leafing veggies next.
A young carrot plant at 3 weeks, and a harvest of many-colored carrots
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