Once your carrots are settled in—whether it’s in a container, a raised bed, or open ground—consistency is key when it comes to watering. If you don’t get rain on a regular basis, go out and give your carrots a good drink of water. Carrots like about an inch to an inch-and-a-half of water each week.
In general, you’ll want to water deeply about once a week. If the top of the soil is a little dry, that’s OK. But don’t let the soil dry out or your plants may bolt. Deep watering encourages good root growth and avoids the development of those annoying little fibrous root hairs you sometimes see growing along the length of the root. Lay down a layer of mulch to help retain moisture; ground-up leaves, clean grass clippings (no pesticides), or compost work well.
It’s always best to water in the morning, so your plants can soak up the water and put it to work. Watering earlier in the day also gives the sun time to burn off any water on the leaves. When you do water, aim for the base of the plant. Try not to get the leaves wet; that can open the plant to fungal infection. Ideally, drip irrigation does the best job of getting the water where it needs to be. But if you don’t have a drip irrigation system, water close to the ground.
If you’ve planted in raised beds or containers, weeds shouldn’t be much of a problem. Properly preparing your soil is an excellent preventive measure against the emergence of weeds. If you do see weeds, pull them early and often. Your carrots will likely start shading out weeds once they really get growing. You should really only have to worry about weeds while the seedlings are small. Cultivate the ground gently to remove the weeds.
Fertilizing isn’t usually necessary. You can add well-rotted manure or compost once your plants are well established. If your carrots start poking their shoulders up through the soil, hill the soil over them to keep them from turning green.
Never use any fertilizer containing a weed killer (Weed and Feed fertilizers). It could kill your carrots.
How often do you have to fertilize or water your carrots? Do you have any particular challenges growing carrots? Please tell us your tips for nurturing healthy carrots.