Carrots are always a favorite vegetable to grow in the home garden. I have tried a wide variety of carrots throughout my gardening years from “Little Finger”, “Scarlet Nates”, to “Danvers Half-Long”. This year I tried a variety recommended by a friend called “Mokum”. Before I write more on “Mokum” let’s review the some important steps of planting a good crop of carrots no matter what variety.
The key to growing good and straight carrots, is the soil texture. Carrots prefer a good light, sandy soil with organic material and deeply tilled. You should try and remove all stones and other material that may interfere with the straight line growth of your carrots. Stones and clumps of soil retard growth and cause roots to split.
As you can see by my picture I did not get all the stones out of my bed. I ended up with an alien carrot. I had a garden bed with good texture, by adding some peat moss, but I did not entirely remove all the stones. The carrot is nothing but a long taproot and if it does not have ideal conditions in which to grow in the taproot becomes stunted, forked or distorted. I know it is still summer but write down remarks how your vegetables performed, so you can correct the trouble spots prior to planting next year’s garden.
WATERING AND MULCHING
Carrots require a consistent moisture level. Inadequate moisture supply can cause the carrots to crack and become distorted. After planting your carrot seeds put down 1/4″ layer of driedgrass clippings to help maintain the moisture level in the soil. As the carrots mature add more organic material, like straw, to maintain a consistent moisture level, cool the soil and control weeds.
The “Mokum” carrot seed that I planted this year I purchased from Territorial Seed Company. When they arrived I was kind of surprised. They were not your typically looking carrot seed. These carrot seeds arrived in pellet form. Being in pellet form it made it a lot easier to see what I was planting and actually plant the seed. Plant your seeds a 1/4″ deep and cover with a thin layer of soil. Plant your rows 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart. You should make succession plantings every 2-3 weeks.
Mokum carrots are crisp, sweet and juicy. They are ready to harvest in about 56 days and can be harvested as baby carrots or let them mature to 6-8 inches. They are high in Vitamin A and rich in sugars. Carrots can be planted up to 2.5 months prior to last frost. Don’t be concerned if you have a lot of carrots in the ground when a frost is predicted. Carrots can be left stored in the ground as long as you have good draining soil and you cover them with between 3-4 inches of straw. When you want to harvest some carrots later, just scrape back the straw and pull out the number of carrots required and recover.
Contributed by Rich Young, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Photos courtesy of Rich Young.