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Top Problems Growing Carrots and How to Fix Them

Carrot plants are one of the world’s most common crops and can be exceptionally easy to cultivate on your own. Many home gardeners have made easy work of growing their own nutritious and aesthetically pleasing carrots. However, many people face challenges when they try to cultivate carrots.

The top problems people have when growing carrots are stunted growth, rotting roots, and carrots that don’t turn bright orange. You may also encounter infestations from pests and insects, as well as diseases, frostbite, and “leggy-ness.”

Even though carrots are prone to such issues, they can be some of the most rewarding vegetables to grow. If you need guidance on how to heal your carrot crops, read on more to get the tips you need.

Your Plant Growth Is Stunted

When we plan out our gardens, we all visualize plentiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can feed our families all season long. However, sometimes this visual is inaccurate and we don’t get what we want out of our crops. When you plant carrots, there is a possibility that your carrots won’t grow at all and you’ll be left with just little green tops.

When you go to harvest your carrots, you might find that you don’t have any root growth at all. The main reason that your carrots may not be growing is because of damage to the carrot tops. According to Burpee, one of the country’s biggest seed distributors, when the tops of carrots are damaged during the growing season, the plant will direct growing energy back into the tops instead of into the carrot itself.

To prevent lack of root growth, you will need to take good care of the tops of your carrots. Because the tops of carrots often face issues with insects, frost, and fungus, you will have to determine the main issue at hand. Use the other tips in this article to heal the tops of your carrots plants and you will be able to grow healthy carrots. 

Your Carrots Are Rotting

There is a certain kind of excitement that comes with cultivating root vegetables. When you first pick one of your carrots (or beets, potatoes, parsnips, etc.), you get insight into how your crop is growing. When you pick a carrot and the plant is rotting, you have a serious problem to remedy.

The main culprit behind rotting carrot plants is a disease called root rot. Rather self-explanatory, root rot is the name for the rotting of roots of many different plants. What is unfortunate about root rot in carrots is that you end up losing the main portion of the plant when root rot occurs.

Root rot happens in carrot plants because of improper soil conditions. When you are planning out your garden, it is crucial to make sure that you have proper drainage in your garden. Having proper drainage means that water doesn’t pool in that area, and that it seeps deep into the ground.

To ensure healthy soil, avoid putting your garden at the bottom of a hill or near a swamp or marsh. When water sits in one area, it is prone to collecting fungal spores and growing diseases. Though carrots do need a moderate amount of water to grow properly, they also should not be left to grow in standing water. 

Your Carrots Aren’t Orange

One of the most recognizable characteristics of carrot plants is their bright orange color. This color is due to the high amount of beta-carotene, a nutrient that is a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene helps to support eye health and it’s crucial for human health. The beta-carotene in carrots is so potent that if you were to eat too many carrots, your skin would start to have an orange tint!

It can be difficult to develop this bold orange color in your carrot plants if you don’t have the right growing conditions. As it is with any crop, it is important that you plant your carrots in the right conditions and at the right time of year. Carrots like cooler weather, so it’s crucial to get them in the ground as soon as you can.

The ideal time to plant carrots is right after the last frost of the springtime. According to the experts at Harvest to Table, if you plant your carrots too early in the season, they will end up becoming pale orange in color. Don’t plant your carrots in frozen soil and check your local weather channel or farmer’s publications to determine when the last frost of spring will be.

Another reason that your carrots aren’t orange is less frustrating – you may have planted a multicolor variety of carrots. When buying seeds, make sure you know whether the seeds you’ve chosen are multicolored. Some carrots can grow in bright purple colors as well as naturally occurring yellow or white varieties.

Pests Are Invading Your Carrot Plants

There are several varieties of insects that make feasts out of your carrot plants, particularly the green aerial tops of the carrots. From the first section of this article we know that when the tops of the carrot are compromised, the plant redirects its energy to re-growing the tops and the roots (where the actual carrot lives) are compromised.

One of the most disliked pests that target carrot plants are slugs. Most of us are familiar with slugs – small, slimy, slow-moving insects that take tiny but destructive bites out of the leaves and stems of our crops. To get rid of slugs, you have a few different options.

The first option is to simply hand-pick them off. This method is most effective if you have just a few carrot plants and you have the time to work on each plant. The second option is better for larger crops of carrots and has been used for generations to get rid of the slimy critters. All you have to do is leave out small saucers of beer on the ground for the slugs to get into. They will be attracted by the scent and the flavor and will be left in the dishes for you to dispose of.

Another pest that loves carrot plants is the aphid. Aphids are small bright-green insects that are far harder to pick off than slugs because they are exceedingly small and can be fast-moving. Because of this, you will need to use more aggressive methods of removal than you might with slugs.

The first way of getting rid of aphids is helpful if you do not want to resort to using insecticides in your garden. Getting rid of a small infestation of aphids is as easy as blasting them off with your hose. Since carrot tops can be thin and fragile, make sure to be conscientious about where you are spraying water. You should also make sure to get in the little spaces where the stems and branches of the carrot tops meet, because pests tend to congregate there.

The second way of getting rid of aphids is to use an insecticide. This is an easy and less time-consuming way to expel aphids from your carrots. This Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap is designed to be as easy as spraying on and leaving it. 

Your Carrots Are Diseased

Even if you aren’t dealing with insect infestations on your plants, you may still be dealing with several frustrating issues in your carrot crops. One of those issues is the many diseases that carrot crops can be subject to when they are planted in unsavory conditions.

Diseases in your carrot crops can present symptoms such as yellowed leaves. Yellowed leaves will likely stay alive but will pale in color and look unhealthy. Leaves may also turn brown and crunchy – these leaves aren’t salvageable. Diseased leaves will generally droop and will be obvious that they are not growing properly.

The first disease that your carrot plants will likely be susceptible to is Alternaria black spot, also known as Alternaria leaf blight. Alternaria black spot is caused by the fungus Alternaria dauci

This variety of fungus causes the leaves on carrot tops to blacken and die. Alternaria black spot spreads through water and soil. Therefore, it is exceptionally important to make sure that you don’t overwater the tops of your carrot plants – aim your hose or watering can at the root of the carrots to avoid fungal infections.

To cure Alternaria black spot, you will need to target it as soon as you see the signs – yellowing of leaves, black moist patches, dying leaves. When the leaves of your carrot tops have died, there is no way to revive them. If you have a small patch of carrots, the first step you should take is to remove the dead and dying leaves. If some of your whole carrot plants have been taken over by black spot, you will need to dispose of them.

Once you have gotten rid of the offending leaves and plants, you will need to spread a fungicide around your garden. You must make sure that you use a fungicide that is formulated for vegetable gardens and not just ornamental plants, as you will eventually be consuming these plants. 

Dr. Earth’s Disease Control Fungicide is an organic blend of natural essential oils that helps to combat fungus in your garden – all you need to do is spray and wait for the magic to happen.

Another disease that may plague your carrot crop is actually caused by nematodes. Nematodes are tiny parasites that live in soil and cause a condition called root knot. Root knot appears as bumpy lumps on the edible carrot root. During a nematode infestation, you will initially notice that your plants are either wilting or not growing at all. If you notice this, pull up a carrot or two and check for those signature root knots.

To get rid of nematodes, you will need to break out the most aggressive methods possible since nematodes are miniscule and destructive. Your best option would be to use a liquid or spray such as Monterey Nematode Control. Check out this video from the University of Arkansas for more information on application of nematode-specific pesticides and how nematodes live in soil.

Your Carrots Are Frostbitten

If you live in a climate that gets cooler in the fall, winter, and early spring, you are likely used to waking up with frost on your windows, roof, and car. Usually a small amount of overnight frost isn’t a major concern to most people because we can bundle up, scrape the frost off our windshields, and move on with our days.

However, the people who do have to worry about frost are our local farmers and gardeners. Because plant growth relies upon sunshine, rain, and warmer temperatures, it is crucial that growers know when to anticipate frost so they can organize their planting and sowing schedules around it.

Carrots are a commonly grown crop in New England, where the weather can be unpredictable and spring and fall evenings can become exceptionally cold. Since carrots are a staple vegetable for most New Englanders, growers in that climate must be aware of the risks of frost and be able to prepare for them.

It’s important that, before planting your carrot seeds, you research when the first and last frosts of the season are anticipated to arrive. You can do this by searching for your local agricultural associations or by visiting your favorite meteorological website.

Once you have determined when the last frost will come, you can start to plant your carrot seeds in row or in small pots in an area with moderate sun. If you are concerned about frost potential, you also have the option to create what is called a hoop house for your carrots.

Hoop houses are a variety of greenhouse that you can build around raised garden beds or even in a small patch in your backyard. The hoop house consists of a rounded roof-like structure made of metal support with a plastic sheet stretched over it. Some hoop houses have doors while others are open ended.

Hoop houses work because they amplify the heat projected onto your garden by the sun. By streaming through the plastic into the hoop house, sunlight and heat can get into the space but it is much harder for it to escape. This is an excellent method for keeping vegetables in warm conditions while still allowing them to absorb sunshine. The following video is a tutorial to help you better understand how to construct your own hoop house.

If your carrots become frostbitten, it’s because you have planted them too early in the season. Depending on the severity of the frost, they may be salvageable, but they will likely see a fair amount of stunted growth. If the frost was intense enough, you may lose your plants completely. If you have any doubts about the coolness of your climate, a hoop house may be the best option for you. 

Your Carrot Plants Are Leggy

We’ve all seen “leggy” plants – sprouts that are sparsely leaved with too much stem and too little bloom. Leggy plants may look healthy but in reality, they have been deprived of the resources plants need to be nourished and thrive.

One of the main reasons that carrot plants get leggy is that they have been exposed to an improper amount of sunlight. When you design your garden, make sure that the carrots have enough sunlight. Without a moderate amount of light, carrot plants will not grow properly and will become sparse.

If you determine that lack of sunlight is causing leggy-ness of your plants, you may have to rearrange your garden to accommodate them. If they feel stable enough and are large enough to survive a transplant, move them to an area in your garden or on your property that can offer them enough sunshine.

Another reason that your carrot plants may be leggy is because of poor watering. It’s crucial to make sure that you water your garden regularly because carrot plants are rather fluffy and thin when they are healthy, so it is easy for them to dry out and come leggy. Carrots should be evenly watered at the base of the plant and kept relatively moist. Do not let them dry out.

Final Thoughts

Gardeners and farmers who plant carrot crops can often encounter any number of pesky issues. Such issues include poor growth, root rot, paleness, insects, diseases, frostbite, and leggy-ness. These issues can often feel insurmountable but are manageable with the right tools.

To solve poor growth, frostbite, and leggy-ness you will have to change up the growing conditions for your carrots, i.e. the amount of sunlight and water they get. For issues like insects and diseases, you may have to resort to using pesticides or fungicides.

When we plant crops of carrots, we all visualize being able to harvest big, bright, healthy-looking carrots at the end of the season. With these easy tips, you can surely get there.

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