The soil temperature affects any plant, and carrots are no exception. Generally, carrots are cool weather crops. Growing them in summer or in warmer soil is hard.
Carrot seeds are slow to germinate in cool conditions and take longer to mature – 3 to 4 months. That is when they come out at their best, producing sweet edible tubers.
The summer heat can make the carrots a bit bitter, with not much taste – this summer’s drought made mine small and taste awful, even the dog wouldn’t eat them, and he’s partial to a fresh carrot!
The ideal temperature for growing carrots is about 4 degrees Celcius. Expert gardeners and farmers sow carrots in warm weather and let them mature in the cold. Hence, timing is everything.
With that in mind, the best time to sow carrots is in early spring and fall. That should assure you of sweet carrots and a good harvest in early spring. Or, you can sow seeds in autumn for a winter harvest.
How to Grow Carrots in Warm Soil Temperatures
Even though warmer weather is not the best time to grow carrots, it does not mean you can’t. Like any other root crop, carrot growth depends on how you care for them.
Here are some tricks for planting carrots in hot climates:
Find heat tolerant varieties
Heat-tolerant carrots are the best if you live in areas that experience extreme heat; consider varieties like ‘Romance’ that are considered heat tolerant. When the summer weather hits, such carrot crop has a better chance of survival.
In other words, consider carrot varieties that perform best in hot weather. Growing winter carrots in such conditions are just a waste.
Consider mulching to keep the soil cool
Mulching could be the best solution to keep the soil cool when the temperature rises in summer. Also, it maintains the soil moisture, helping the carrot seedlings to sprout efficiently.
You need to check out for pests and diseases like carrot flies, though. They are more attracted to warm conditions.
Add fresh compost to the soil
If you have planted your carrots in a raised beds planting scheme, consider filling them with fresh compost manure. You don’t have to deal with crusty soil or digging after this. But check if the levels have dropped.
Keep the soil moist and well drained
Soil density and soil type are crucial factors when planting carrots. No matter what you have, one of the best growing tips is to keep the soil moist all year round. Consistently water the soil and the plants, especially when you just planted the seeds. This will control overly warm temperatures, which may cause improper growth.
Cover over the plants with a shade cloth
Planting carrots in hot weather can require extra input than when you do it in cool weather. The carrot root requires enough time to mature, which can only happen in the cold. A good way to ensure such conditions is to cover your carrot bed with a shade cloth during the hottest part of the day. You can remove it when the sun goes down.
Cover the carrot bed with grass clipping or shredded leaves as the top layer of the soil. This should keep the soil cool and allow for proper seed germination. Ensure they have good drainage, especially where heat tolerance is not a factor.
Cool temperatures, soil type, and good drainage are the basic factors for planting carrots. Finding the perfect growing season does not only produce many carrots but assures a good flavour too.
However, not everyone lives in such a condition or is patient enough. The ideas we have shared above should help you get a good harvest. Grow your carrots in hot weather and enjoy a great taste. Even though they will be slightly smaller in size, you will still have some good harvest from your garden.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!