growing carrots

Carrots growing in the garden

Carrots are a tuber crop that are most commonly orange and have green leaves. There are other varieties that range in color from white to red. They are used in cooking for food items like soups and stews, to being eaten raw on their own or as part of a salad.

There are many varieties of carrot like nantes, oxheart chantey, amsterdam, kuroda among others.

They grow mostly in cool climate (15-25°C) and require moderate amount of rainfall (500-900mm).

It does well in high altitude from 1200m above sea level, though varieties will dictate the best growing climate.

Carrots grow best in fertile well drained soils, for proper root formation and nutrient needs fulfilment. Clay soils may hinder proper root formation. The soil ph should also be checked as it does well between 6.5 and 7.5.


To grow carrots, the land needs to be first prepared. It requires a fine tilth, so after the initial ploughing, the harrowing to break up clumps of soil may have to be done at least twice.

Shallow furrows are then made mostly by hoe about an 1cm deep and spacing of 1 foot row to row.

For the actual planting, we normally get a plastic bottle like a soda or the equivalent and make a small hole on the cap with a small nail. The carrot seeds are very small, so care has to be taken when sowing them. Sowing should be done as close to the ground as possible to prevent wind from carrying away the seed. The bottle is then shaken gently back and forth, enough to let the seeds. Spacing should be about. The planting depth should be shallow and be between 0.5 to 1 cm.

The seeding rate is 2.5kg per acre. Addition of sand while sowing helps with seed distribution.

The planter should be followed by the helper with a wet twig covering the seeds with just enough soil to cover the seed. If too much soil is used it will cause germination failure.

Watering should be done if planted during the dry season immediately, just enough to make the soil drenched without any run off. The seeds can also benefit from a light mulch. Once the seeds germinate, the mulch can be pushed intra row. If planting in the rainy season, it prefers moderate rainfall. Too much water causes developmental issues like cracking , while too little and branching of roots.

Addition of fertilizer should be done sparingly especially in fertile soils. This is because too much nutrient like nitrogen can cause excessive leaf formation instead of the root. For best practice, soil analysis should have been done prior and use of correct fertilizer to remedy any nutrient shortcomings.

Weeding should then be done on a weekly basis if being done by hand or use the correct selective herbicide. Scouting should also be done to see if there are any pests or diseases. Early detection is the best way to control both pests and diseases.

Common diseases that affect carrots are powdery mildew, bacterial rot, aster yellow and cottony soft rot.

The flea beetle, caterpillars, cut worm and wire worms are the more common pests that affects carrots. Good management practice should always be adhered to for minimization of loss of production.

Carrots usually take about 90 to 120 days to mature. Once they are ready, watering should be stopped about a week to when harvesting is to be done. If too much water is given there is the danger of cracking which leads to production losses.

Carrots should be stored in a cool dry place. They have a shelf life of up to 3 to 4 months when kept well in refrigerated storage.

Is it worth growing carrots?

Carrots never seem to lose demand. It is one of the few vegetable crops that the market seems to desire. They can also keep for 2-3 months after harvesting with proper handling. Their medium perishability means that they can be transported to far markets and still be in good condition.

For market preparation, once they are harvested, they have their leaves often called “tops” removed. Once this is done, they are washed to remove any soil on their surface. They are then packed into clean gunny bags when they dry.

Prices of carrots usually range from 30-50 Kes per kilo, and at the production level of 15-20 tons per acre, depending on management and desired market.

Growing carrots gives a reasonable return on investment and is worth pursuing.

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