Danver carrots have a root size and shape that excels in heavy and shallow soil. Even if it is heavy, you should still add compost to your soil mixture. The looser and less rock-inhabited soil you build, the better your Danver carrots will grow.
Don’t plant all of your carrot seeds at once because you’ll end up with a lot of carrots at one time and then no carrots later in the season. As your carrot seeds sprout and if you have more space in your garden, plant more rows to ensure you’ll have carrots throughout the growing season. In warmer climates, you can get away with planting carrots in the fall and winter.
Danver carrots need a lot of moisture to grow so you’ll need to prioritize watering and take measures such as increasing the amount of mulch around your plants to allow for longer water retention.
Growing in the ground: While most rows can be dug to just 6 or 8 inches, you should double dig your space for Danver carrots. This means you’ll want to dig to 16-18 inches deep. You can plant in rows or clusters. If planting in rows, keep 1-2 feet apart. Add ¼ to ½ inch of compost, potting mix, or sand over the seeds you sow into the ground. This creates soft soil that makes it easier for the sprout to break through the upper layer. Thin to 1-2 inches apart as the carrots begin to sprout.
Growing in a container: The best containers for growing Danver carrots are wide and short, reaching a depth of about 10 inches. Buy potting soil specific to container growing, if possible, but it's not neccessary. Sprinkle seeds generously atop the soil, covering every square inch. Apply a layer of soil over the seeds and water to kickstart germination. Once the seeds have sprouted, thin carrots so that there are 1-2 inches of space in between each plant.
Growing in a raised bed: Fill up your bed to about 12 inches of soil. The soil needs to be rich and fluffy in whatever manner works for you. Generally this includes developing a mixture of manure, potting soil, sand, sticks and leaves, and peat moss. The most important element to look out for is rocks as you want to have as few as possible lurking within your soil. After germination, place mulch around your seedlings for added water retention. Thin 1-2 inches apart once seeds have sprouted and apply compost as desired to increase the health of your Danver carrots.
The process for planting is pretty similar whether you're planting in the ground, beds, or containers. Just make sure your soil is fairly light and spongy and full of nutrition such as compost and/or manure (Most manures need to be aged to avoid nitrogen burns to your plants). They also like sandy soil, but sand isn't a necessary amendment. Seeds can be planted well before the last frost date, 2-3 weeks prior is a safe bet. Your last frost date can be found on your search engine of choice. Beets don't like the transplanting process much, so it's best to sow them directly into the ground, bed, or a container. (Containers work best when at least 12" deep, but don't be afraid to try a shallower one)
Seeds should be planted about an inch deep. The plants will need to be thinned to about 3-4 inches apart for larger cultivars, and 2-3 for smaller ones, but feel free to plant closer initially to allow for some failed germination. If you're planting in rows, they should be 12-18 inches apart, but if you're using the square foot gardening method, you can simply space them 2-4 inches on every side. Never be afraid to experiment with different spacings to see what works for you. Gardening is an art!
Water immediately after planting, and if possible, water lightly every dry day until you see sprouts. Then they need a minimum of one inch of water per week. (In other words, water fairly deeply 1-2 times a week if it doesn't rain). Mulch is highly recommended to retain and slowly release water. Grass clippings, hay, leaves, wood chips, etc all work as mulch.
In 7-8 weeks, your beets should be ready for harvest! Not only can you harvest the root, the leaves are a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. You can use the entire plant, much like turnips and radishes. Since you don't want your beets all at once, space your plantings. This could be a few seeds every day, or a new row every couple of weeks. It really depends on how much you like beets.
Come summer, you'll likely reach that sad point where they don't do very well. But never fear! You can plant them again in late summer/early fall, and grow them well into the winter.