How to Grow Carrots

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Growing carrots can sometimes seem a bit challenging getting everything right. Once you figure it out, they are such a great vegetable to grow in your garden.  It’s always exciting to pull a large carrot from the soil.

Home grown carrots still with soil on them. How to Grow Carrots. Hidden Springs Homestead

Carrots seeds can be grown directly in the ground, in raised beds, and even pots.  There are many different varieties and colors of carrots as well.  Not all are orange, many varieties are purple and even red or white.  Most are resistant to pests and disease but they do have their challenges that like to bother them.

Lets getting busy learning all about carrots.

About Carrots

Carrots are a cool season crop that prefer to be planted in the spring and in the fall.  They are rich in vitamin A and minerals and just good for ya.  They are planted directly from seed and can take 3-4 months to mature.  Probably the biggest challenge to growing carrots is the soil loose and deep enough so they can easily grow.

With careful planning, it’s very doable to grow a spring and fall season crop of carrots, here how.

Harvested Carrots
Harvested Carrots

Prepping the Soil

Before sowing your seeds, remove all rocks and debris from your soil.  It needs to be loose and rock free about 8-10 deep. Carrots are a vegetable root that will find their way through soft and clay free soil.  If carrots come in contact with a rock or other object in their way of growing, they will either A)  stop growing or B) find their way around the object causing an irregular looking carrot.  It can end up crooked or forked in shape.

When soil is soft and free of rocks and debris you are in good shape.  If not, it’s best to prepare your soil in the fall by forking or tilling about 10 inches deep and adding a fine leaf mulch and aged manure to it.  This will get your soil all well and prepared for spring crop planting.

Planting Carrots 

Carrots need to be planted 3-4 weeks prior to last frost.  You can find your frost date here.  They prefer a soil pH of 5.5 – 7.  Soil needs to be soft, rich in organic matter and not contain a lot of nitrogen.  Too much nitrogen will cause your carrots to be “hairy.”

The seeds are super tiny and can be a challenge to plant one at a time.  Since I don’t like to “over plant” and then have to thin out to give them grow room.  A great way to be able to plant them properly is by using seed tape which can get pretty expensive.  But Anna, over at Celebrating a Simple Life has written a great article about how to make your own seed tape and to do it organically!  You could for sure try this, I plan too.

Plant seeds directly into the soil 2-3 inches apart.  Since they are so tiny, it’s almost impossible to use your fingers to pick up only 1 seed, so this is why I think the seed tape is so awesome.  Lay off your row about 1/8 inch deep and drop your carrot seeds into it.

Tiny carrot seeds

Rows need to be about 6 inches apart.  Once your seeds are planted, cover them with an organic mulch to help with keeping the soil moist.  You will need to water regularly if it doesn’t rain often enough.  Carrot seeds need to be kept moist in order to germinate.

RELATED: Take the guesswork out! Use the easy formula worksheets in The Canning Garden Workbook (printable) to figure out how much to plant, for canning, to feed your family for a full year!

Caring for Carrots as They Grow

Carrot seeds should germinate in about 2 weeks.  If you didn’t use a seed tape and you over sowed, plants will need to be thinned when they are 2-3 inches tall.  Once the thinning is complete, you will need only to keep them well watered and moist during their growing time.  Adding the organic mulch, such as crushed leaves, leaf mold or grass clippings will do the trick.

If your carrots a sown real thick, clipping the tops off may be a better choice for thinning rather than pulling them from the soil.  Pulling them can injure the roots of the others that are next to them.  If you choose to clip, use a good pair of garden scissors to reach in and gently clip the top from the unwanted carrot.   Trimming will also help to prevent the smell of the carrot from being released into the air and help to keep  away various carrot pests.  (TIP – Add the trimmed pieces to a salad, they are great!)

While your carrots are growing, there some garden pests that you may need to deal with.  One of them being the Carrot Fly. To prevent the notorious carrot fly, whose maggots eat on carrot roots, this article from Gardner’s World Magazine will help.

To learn about other carrots pests and how to control them, this is a great article to read.

Harvesting Carrots

You can harvest carrots at any size.  Many people like to harvest them when they are small, but I prefer to leave them in the soil until they are larger.  A good indication of the size the carrot actually is to take a look at the top of the root that is sticking out of the soil.

Harvested carrots
Various size Harvested Carrots

To harvest a carrot, push some of the soil back away from the root, and gently pull upward to release the root.  Depending on the size, it may be necessary to remove some of the soil using a gardening fork.  I like to use my Hori Hoir because it is slim and doesn’t interfere with other carrots near the one I am pulling up.

(Note – when you are harvesting your carrots, unless you are harvesting them all at once, it’s a good idea to remove every-other-one – this will allow them room to grow even larger).

The juice from carrot tops can also irritate your skin so wearing gloves to harvest is a good idea.  The irritation is called Phytophotodermatitis, you can read about it here.

How to Store Carrots after Harvesting  

Carrots can be stored a few different ways.  They can be freeze-dried, dehydrated, frozen or pressure canned.  You can also store them as they are in a root cellar or cool, dark place.  If stored in a root cellar, leave the garden soil on them, cut the tops off to about 1 inch in length and place in a box filled with sand, leaves or saw dust.  It’s best if the root is covered completely and they do not touch.

Harvested Carrots

Carrots will begin to become “limp” after being exposed to air.  If you are storing them in the frig, leave the soil on them, place them into an airtight bag and put them into the coolest part of your frig. Wash them as you need to use them.  They will keep for about 6 weeks this way.

Carrots may sound a bit finicky but they are a pretty simple vegetable to grow.  Not only are the great on salads and as snacks, they can be added to soups and stews as well.  There are so many different ways to preserve carrots and the best part is, you can grow them twice a year.

A collage of the pages from the eBook The Canning Garden Workbook  with text overlay that reads - No More Guessing-Grow Enough Food For a Full Year! Canning Garden Workbook with and red Instant Download button.

Since you love gardening, I’m sure you will enjoy:

Do you grow carrots in your garden?  I’d love for you to share your thoughts about growing and storing carrots.  Feel free to leave any thoughts you may have in the comments below.

Huge pile of harvest carrots. How to Grow Carrots. Hidden Springs Homestead.

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14 thoughts on “How to Grow Carrots”

  1. Great advice on planting carrots! I’ve never had good luck with them…hopefully after reading this, I’ll be able to grow them better!

    1. Hi Shawna,

      I’ll admit carrots are not one to the easiest to grow, but I know you can do it. Trick is the soil. Deep and loose soil is best. If you try and have any questions, feel free to ask

      Dianne

  2. I love growing carrots but it is such a short season for them here in Central Florida because it gets hot so quickly. I love Bakers Creek seeds because their success rate is very high! Good post with great information!

  3. Yes, carrots are one of my favorite things to grow! I’ve found them a bit finicky to germinate when dry, so I always make sure to keep them moist after sowing, usually by watering three times a day. I’ve also laid a wet board over the top of the sown seeds, and that’s helped to germinate them, too. I just check regularly!

  4. You haven given a very detailed and excellent description of how to grow and store carrots. We used to grow a lot of carrots in our garden when I was growing up and loved eating them – still love them.

  5. Very nice overview on growing carrots, I have a certain very limted areas in the garden that have been double dug that can grow carrots.. most of my garden is no till and I do not use raised beds in the same way as most.. I do like to grow them in my horse trough garden though, otherwise, they tend to go in the few “double dug beds”..

    1. Thank you for the compliment. I live such a slope, raised beds are my only option, otherwise, all my soil is at the bottom of the hill. I have them a different depths depending where they are on the slope. My beds range from 18 inches to 36 inches deep. So fortunately, since I’ve filled all the beds, carrots grow really well in them. Thanks for reading. The horse trough is intriguing – btw.

  6. Great tutorial! I have heavy clay soil that I have been working to ammend ever since we moved here. I still have a long way to go before carrots like it! I am thinking about putting in a raised bed for them this year. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Julia,

      I’m in zone 7a. Our fall harvest begins mid-September to early Oct. Different regions have different Fall harvest times. It is based on the zone you live in and the “first” frost for winter. You may go to this link https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates and put in your zip code, it will give you your harvest planting average date. The first frost date is what you are looking for to give you an idea of your fall planting time. Please let me know if I can help you with something else. Thanks for commenting.

    1. You are so welcome Tilly. If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to ask. You may email me through the site or simply leave a message on a post and I’ll be happy to help. Peas are a fantastic vegetable to grow.

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