In Florida carrots are a fall through late winter planted crop. It is difficult to use the information on a seed packet for direction as to when to plant in our climate as most do not take our hot climate into consideration. Carrots are a very popular vegetable I believe because they are colorful, sweet, and fairly easy to grow. This makes them popular for the gardener to grow. A very commonly used vegetable in a great many dishes also contribute to its adoption. Other than preparing dishes, it can be consumed raw or increasing, used in juicing. Known as a major source of vitamin A, carrots provide a huge dose of sweetness to any juice. It is also a good source of vitamin K and potassium. If you plant carrots in your small home garden, you should be able to grow and harvest carrots for most of the months in a year here in Florida. This will of course require keeping your plants thriving.
When to grow carrots in Florida
The best time to grow carrots is going to be during the cooler months, as carrots don’t do as well in the heat. The prime months to plant are September through till March. Most vegetables don’t grow well in our central Florida summer. Timing when you grown carrots during these months will ensure you are finished by summer. The heat and humidity breeds mold, fungus, and other insects. The combination of all of these will make it difficult to grow almost anything with success even by the experienced gardener.
In order to grow sweet carrots for your home cooking needs, you need to adhere to a few things:
- Cool temperatures to sustain the carrots plants. In Florida that means they need to be picked before the most intense sun of the summer. Well-drained soil and rainfall is important. On seasons where rainfall is minimal, watering the carrot plants will help them grow well.
- The first step would be to till the ground where you plan to plant them or create a raised bed to grow them. It should be about that you will plant the carrots to about 2 cm deep. If you choose to go the raised bed route, make it 2 feet deep. Loose well draining soil is needed.
- Cover the seeds with soil after planting in the ground, while making sure to give them enough space. Carrots need about 9 inches of space in between each plant.
- As the seeds germinate and the crown appears above the ground, apply mulch that will help in keeping the grounds wet especially during the drier periods of winter. Unless of course you irrigate.
- Thinning of carrots would help in giving a constant supply of the carrots fresh from the farm all year round. However, you have to be careful with this process as the carrot fly is sensitive to the smell of damages carrot leaves thus attacking the plant. This though can be controlled. Thinning the carrots 3 to 5 cm apart depending on the size of the carrot produce ensures quality carrots.
- A good way to help prevent against pests would be to add plants around your garden that encourage good insects like; Dandelion, Dill, Fennel, Marigold or a host of others. When you encounter pests problems use; neem oil, soapy water, citrus water, or even a hot pepper/garlic mix.
A little bit of heat is ok, but too much will cause the carrots to be woody and have a funny taste. Be sure they are not planted near any poisonous plants as the carrot has deeper roots and may be susceptible to poisoning from the poisonous plant.