A vegetable garden without luscious, green carrot plants gracing it is quite unimaginable for many gardeners. If you have only tasted carrots bought from the supermarkets and have never tasted a homegrown, organic one, you surely have been missing out on the authentic taste of this delicious vegetable.
A sweet, crunchy carrot harvested from your own backyard garden is sure to blow your mind with its flavorsome taste. This crunchy veggie, which is rich in nutrients, is a delicious treat enjoyed by most children, who would never go near other vegetables.
So if you have little picky eaters at home feeding vegetables to whom is a major concern, home grown carrots are just the solutions you’re looking for.
Roast them, sauté them, steam them, toss them in salads, make a vegetable stew, enjoy them raw, or prepare the popular Indian dessert called ‘halwa’- you can never run out of tasty and creative dishes to use these humble vegetables in.
Moreover, carrots are quite easy to grow and can do well even in small spaces. This makes them one of the most common plants seen in backyard vegetable gardens.
However easy growing these delicious veggies might be, it is no news that tasty harvest from a home garden comes with quite a price.
Especially if you are a new gardener without several years of experience, looking out for problems in your plants and troubleshooting is bound to become a vital part of your life. Similarly, you should be expecting to encounter growing problems with carrots as well.
Most common problem reported by carrot gardeners is the issue of stunted growth. Many gardeners are seen asking why are my carrots not growing. If you are struggling with this problem, do not fret.
You have come to the right place. This article contains just what you need to know about this issue with your carrots. So read on and find out.
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Before we begin discussing the issue of small carrots, let us discuss the basics of carrot cultivation. Unless you know your vegetables really well how can you be expected to treat them right?
And unless you treat them the way you should, your plants are never going to bear you the harvest you are hoping for. So let’s begin.
Carrots are a healthy treat which is equally tasty. They come in numerous varieties each of which has a different flavor and size.
You may have been coloring carrots orange all your life, but you would be surprised to know that there are several colors they come in.
Early carrots were mainly yellow or purple, and the orange variety that has now become the most popular one was developed only about four hundred years ago.
You can almost form a whole spectrum of carrot colors, with colors like purple, white, red and black being fairly common in different regions of the world.
Originally a native of Asia Minor and Persia, carrot cultivation dates back to the 10th century. This vegetable is one of the most popular and commercially important root vegetables grown in the temperate regions.
Considered to be one of the most important sources of Vitamin A, carrots are widely recognized as preventers of all sorts of eye infections and diseases like Macular degeneration, cataract and night blindness.
They are also rich in carotene, lycopene, antioxidants, folate, potassium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamins K, B8, and B5. They contain about 86 to 95% water and are abundant in soluble and insoluble fiber.
Carrots help your body fight several infections and diseases due to their high antioxidant content, while also helping in the reduction of cholesterol. They are therefore really beneficial for your heart, eyes, skin, gastrointestinal health, and even brain.
These vegetables grow best in loamy and sandy soils during both winter and monsoon seasons. These plants require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis. Planting them on time, providing abundant water and taking regular care is all you need to do to ensure the harvest of a healthy batch of delicious carrots at the end of the season.
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Carrots Not Growing: Know the Problem
Now that you are aware of how healthy and easy-to-grow these delicious vegetables are, you will probably agree with me when I say carrots are really like hidden treasures, growing clandestinely in your garden.
Now, the problem with treasure is unless you’ve found it and dug it up you can never tell what you will see down there. This is where many gardeners are disappointed with their carrots.
Many times, after growing the carrots for full two months, when the gardeners harvest them, they find small sized, thin carrots under the soil. At times, these carrots are even deformed. The gardeners, who had done everything they had to, are left wondering where they went wrong.
This problem can be disheartening for many, and oftentimes gardeners who fail to locate the cause of the problem are left wondering why my carrots are so small?
A small sized carrot often looks like a young, underdeveloped one as it has the size of a newly formed root. While an average carrot is about 6 to 7 inches long, carrots that do not grow can be anything between 1 to 4 inches.
If your carrot is about 4 to 5 inches, though it is smaller than the average, you probably do not have much to worry about.
One or two small carrots in a whole batch are normal, too as sometimes some roots do not get formed naturally. However, if most of the carrots in a batch are smaller than say 3 to 4 inches, there is a serious problem which needs to be dealt with.
The problem here is that unless you have already harvested your carrots, there is no way to understand how the roots of your plants are growing. And once you have already harvested them, there is no going back either.
All you can do is identify the cause of the problem and be sure to solve it so that this does not keep happening to your carrots every year.
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Why Are Your Carrots Small?
There can be several causes for your carrot roots to not form or develop enough, leaving them smaller than the average. This problem reduces your harvest significantly as the weight of the produce is seriously affected.
Identifying the causes and preventing the same problem from happening again is a must.
So the question that we now come to is why the carrot plants fail to form good, healthy roots. To know why are my carrots short and fat, the first thing I should do is study and observe the conditions in my garden.
More often than not, this problem is caused by climatic factors and the condition of the soil in which the carrots grow. In case these are not the cause of the problem, another very prominent cause is the root knot nematode. Let us look at these causes in detail.
The most probable and common cause of this problem is the soil that your carrots hide in. Carrot plants require loamy or sandy soils and do well only when the soil is loose. Porous loose soils are a necessary requirement for the carrots to grow, take shape and mature properly. In soils that are not loose enough, carrot plants struggle to form roots.
In such cases even though the plants would grow and look apparently healthy, the roots would either be deformed or would not develop according to your expectations.
Carrots tend to suffer especially in tightly compacted clay soils where the particles are bound tightly together. The roots find it hard to penetrate such soils and go deeper.
Another problem that might have been the cause behind your small deformed carrots could be your own casual carelessness that you might have exhibited while watering your plants. Carrot plants need to be watered thoroughly and kept moist, being watered every single day after the seeds are sown.
This must be done even when the pants are not dry, as continuous moisture is a must if your plants are to germinate on time and grow well.
Even after the plants have germinated they need constant watering in order to develop thick, deep roots. Lack of water puts the plant under stress and causes the roots to remain shallow and underdeveloped.
Overcrowding of the Plants:
If you have planted your carrots too close to each other and have not thinned them on time, your plants are bound to grow thinner and shallower roots.
The plants need sufficient space between them in order to be able to spread out and grow. The roots can only have a healthy growth when they can space out and grow without competition from the roots of other plants.
If you have been providing a fertilizer to your carrot plants which is rich in nitrogen, that might be causing the problem as well. Excessive nitrogen lets your plant grow healthy, beautiful, big carrot plants but the root development remains stunted.
The plant is encouraged to direct all its energy towards the growth of a healthy shoot and the roots are left unattended to.
Root Knot Nematodes:
Root Knot Nematodes are parasitic microscopic worms that develop in the soil, affecting the roots of the plants. This pest comes in several varieties but affects the plants more or less similarly. These pests leave the plants stunted, and can even lead to the death of the plants.
When carrot roots are affected by these pests, they leech on the roots of the plants, draining them off all the nourishment. These affect carrot plants quite often and leave your plants with thin, very short roots that are inedible.
How to Make Carrots Grow Longer?
Just knowing the answer to ‘why aren’t my carrots growing?’ is not enough to solve the problem. Although there is not much that you can do after your infected plants have been harvested, you can always be prepared for the next time.
So, let us now look at some ways of solving this menace of carrot harvest.
Lightening the Soil:
The first and most important step to be taken in this case is to treat the soil in which your carrots are to grow. In case your garden has clay soil, you need to amend the soil with sand or even crushed dry leaves. You can also use a well rotted household compost to lighten up the heavy and compact nature of your soil.
You would also be required to take care of how much water you provide your plants with. Until the germination of the seeds, keep watering the plants everyday with enough water to keep the soil moist at all times.
After the plants have grown a little, you can reduce this, but be sure to never leave your plants dry, especially during hot and dry days.
Check your fertilizer for the amount of nitrogen it contains. Too much nitrogen encourages stunted roots. If required, replace your fertilizer with one having low nitrogen content, or ones that are phosphorus based.
Thinning Out the Plants:
Make sure your plants never suffer from overcrowding. Thin them out to 2.5 to 5 cm apart after one week from sowing the seeds. Carrots need to be thinned well and grow best when they are at least 3 to 4 inches apart from each other.
Treating Root Knot Nematodes:
To treat the root knot nematodes you need to first have your soil tested for the presence of the pests. Once their presence has been confirmed, you can use plastic sheets to cover the soil, thereby trapping the sun’s heat.
This method of solarizing the soil would remove the pests. If this cannot be practiced, move the plants to a different location for the next season.
Now that you know your problems well and have acquired knowledge about their solution as well, we hope you will be able to cultivate your carrots in the proper way, ensuring that they are not affected by this problem again.
The secret to making sure you have a healthy batch of delicious carrots is simply taking care of your plants providing them with everything they require.