If you love carrots and you’re interested in growing your own there are a few easy tips that can help you to grow long, straight carrots. Sometimes homegrown carrots don’t come out like we expect them to, and if your carrots have come out short and fat instead of long and slender keep reading this article.
Short and fat carrots are usually the result of one of two things: either the seeds are for a particular variety that grows like this, or the carrots do not have the ideal growing conditions. This article will explore all that you need to know to avoid short, fat carrots and to grow them large and sweet.
How to avoid short and fat carrots
Most carrots are long, slender, and orange, but many varieties can also be straight and round, short and fat, and in colors such as yellow, purple, and white. These easy tips will help you to create the best soil conditions to grow long straight carrots.
Clay soil can be difficult for carrots to push their way through. This can result in short, fat carrots rather than long and slender ones. Improve clay soil by digging through aged compost. This will help to lighten the soil and will allow the carrots to push through deeper.
Lighter soils that have a higher percentage of loam or sand will naturally allow carrots to grow longer. It is still best to mix through small amounts of compost to increase the water holding capacity of the soil. Mix it in well and avoid any large lumps.
Carrots grow best in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re ready to be planned in the spring time right after the last significant frost. If you live in an area where the temperature is too hot, your carrots might not be as large or they could even have an unpleasant strong flavor.
If the temperature where you live gets below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in early spring, your carrots may be lighter in color and can grow thin and long.
Carrots will grow best in soil that is kept moist and is well draining. When carrots experience dry periods, this can stop their growth, cause them to grow wider and fatter rather than reaching down deeper into the soil.
Keep carrot seedlings moist for the first few weeks. If you are getting low amounts of spring rain, water the carrots yourself to keep them growing consistently.
Tilling the soil
Soil with a lot of twigs and rocks can interrupt carrot growth. As their root hits the rock it will send it off in another direction casing the carrot to grow sideways. Rocks can also stop the root from reaching deeper and cause the carrot to grow short and fat.
Before you plant your carrot seeds till the soil well. Carrots will grow longer and straighter if the soil is tilled to the depth of around one foot.
Check the pH balance of your soil to make sure it isn’t too acidic. Ideally, soil that you intend to grow carrots in should have a pH balance of 6 to 6.5. Avoid using fertilizer with too much nitrogen as this can cause the carrot to grow lots of leaves and a small or short root.
Avoid fresh manure
Carrots do well in soil that is loose and sandy when the cooler months of the growth season hit, that is, spring and fall. Fresh manure should never be used on the soil because carrot roots can fork and turn out smaller than usual.
Fresh manure will also contain too much nitrogen which can burn carrot roots and stunt their growth.
Plant carrot seeds directly in the soil
Planting carrot seeds directly into the soil is the best way to help them to grow long and straight. When carrot seedlings are moved, their roots can be bent which can stop them growing longer. This can lead to short and fat carrots rather than long and thin ones.
Try carrot tape to get the right spacing. Carrot seeds are embedded in biodegradable tape which breaks down over time and the seeds are separated into even spacing. this means less thinning and no transplanting which can affect their shape.
Leave carrots in the ground long enough to mature
As a general rule, carrots take two to four months to mature, so if you plant them in the spring or summer months, you’ll have plenty of carrots through the fall. Leave the carrots in the ground long enough so their root has time to grow deep, The carrot will then fill out and become sweeter.
Picking carrots too early can leave you with short carrots instead of long ones. Check the top of the carrot before pulling it out. Gently move the soil away from the top of the stem to see how large the base will be.
To give carrots the room to grow and enough nutrients to develop well, thin out your carrots several times during the growing season. This means removing some of the carrots to make sure there is enough room in the soil for the other carrots to grow properly.
Thinning should be done two to three times during the growing season. With carrots, you should plant them about two weeks before the last frost is forecast, then continue to plant them every three weeks until early October. This way, you’ll get a continuous yield of carrots.
For more on how to plant and grow carrots, check out this video below.
Types of Carrots
It is good to learn about the various types of carrots so you can decide which one you’d like to plant. Some of the most common varieties of carrots include:
These carrots do well in heavy soil. They get to around six to seven inches in length and are good for people who don’t have perfect soil in their garden. Just make sure you harvest them on time to get the best taste.
These are long and skinny and can grow in many types of soil, including clay soil. Although they are usually orange in color, they can sometimes be other colors as well. They were developed in Danvers, Massachusetts, hence their name.
You usually see these types of carrots at the grocery store. They are sweeter than other varieties, and one of the things that makes them noticeable and a bit unique is their foliage, which grows faster than other types of carrots.
Not exactly baby carrots, which are actually shaved-down full-sized carrots, there are numerous varieties of mini carrots. Some are as tiny as radishes and super sweet. They do well in containers because of their size.
These were named for the part of France where they grow best and are perfectly cylindrical from top to bottom, not tapered like regular carrots. They are a low-maintenance crop and are crunchy and sweet.
There are enough types of carrots to satisfy anyone’s preferences, and you can make your decision based on your personal tastes and the type of soil you have.
Carrots are a fun crop to grow at home with kids. They can be grown from seed for a few dollars and they will reward you with a delicious crop over spring and fall. Growing the perfect shaped carrot can be tricky but aim for soil that has added mature compost, is well tilled and is kept consistently moist. This will give you long, slender carrots that are sweet and delicious.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.