Growing Carrots from
Seed in Beds, Containers or Pots
carrots is an
excellent vegetable for gardeners with limited
space. 4 - 6 meters of carrot rows will keep the average family
supplied for 8-10 weeks. You can also grow carrots in containers, such
as old buckets or
similar, as long as you have the depth.
Just remember, that a small amount of seed goes a long way, and the
most common problem with novice vegetable gardeners is that they end up
sowing the seeds to thick, resulting in overcrowded growing conditions
and fed up growers.
Hopefully you won't be one of those once you follow our simple guide to
step by step carrot growing. Learn about soil
optimal growing conditions and how to store. Learn how to grow carrots
here and you will realize that there really isn't much in it once you
Planting carrots is a
myth. You cannot plant carrots as
the plants cannot be transplanted. You can only grow carrots from seed.
However, for this article we acknowledge that many people talk about
planting carrots when they really mean growing carrots, and so we use
the term loosely here too.
In hot climates avoid sowing the seeds during
the hottest months, and in cold climates wait for spring or plant 3-4
weeks before the last expected frost. So if you live in an
area where you have cold winters, sow from August through to March. l
say this, because carrots which mature when spring is approaching tend
to bolt to seed.
You can plant carrots until
midsummer in cool areas.
For those of you who live in temperate and
sub-tropical areas carrots can be planted all year round. However,
those who live in tropical
areas can sow carrots from March, or whenever the wet
season ends, and continue sowing until about August.
If you sow carrot seed in late autumn or winter they may run to seed
without forming any roots.
How many Carrot Seeds Do I Need to Sow?
You can do a lot with a glut of
carrots, like making carrot cake, soups, jams etc. However, if you just
want to grow carrots for eating straight out the garden without any
freezing involved, then 4-6 x 1 meter rows of
is more than enough.
Remember though, to stagger the sowing
sowing these rows 4 - 6 weeks apart to lengthen your harvest time and
make sure that you don't end up with a glut. Remember too, that you can
start pulling carrots very early.
Heirloom Carrot Varieties for Growing Carrots
For those of you are are looking to
plant heirloom carrots there are certain varieties that we can
In the picture left,
here you can see a variety of heirloom carrots and the various colors
they come in other than boring old orange!
interesting variety. It has a purple outer-skin with an orange core. It
matures after 65 - 70 days.
Half Long Carrot
grows to 6 inches, is a stubby, coreless carrot that is ideal for
growing in raised-bed
gardens as it doesn't grow too long.
And finally we
recommend Scarlet Nantes, an old French heirloom
carrot variety that is best for storing, freezing or canning. And
ideally suited for cold climates. It matures in 65 days
Preparation for Growing Carrots
preparation for your carrots and vegetables is essential
Carrots are root vegetables, as a
result the ground has to be well dug over first, before planting. The
soil should be light, airy and free of clay, stones and other
obstacles. If this is not done, your carrots will be deformed as they
try and push their way down through compacted soil. The best way to
grow carrots is in raised beds which allow for the type of soil that
Because the soil where carrots have been planted is difficult to weed
once the carrots start growing, it is better to prepare the soil well
before you want to sow the seeds. Prepare the soil, water it, and allow
it to stand for at least two weeks allowing time for any weeds to come
up. These can be hoed back into the soil before they have had time to
spread their seeds, and are a good source of nitrogen for the carrots.
Carrot growing should be
done in a
well-drained, deeply dug
sandy loam and placed in a sunny spot, although carrots will also grow
in dappled shade at a push. However, although they don't like wet feet,
carrots need a lot of water, and the soil should never be allowed to
You will get cracked carrots if they
are not watered during
dry weather. The beds should be dug over with well-rotted
manure or compost
added to the soil as this helps to retain the moisture in the soil.
Make sure that the manure is
well-rotted as if your manure is too fresh it will also cause your
carrots to fork or to send out side roots. Another caution is not to
over-fertilize or add fertilizers that are high in nitrogen as they can
cause the leaves to grow rather than the roots.
The soil should be
higher in phosphorus and potassium. Potassium is essential for good
growth and health. Adding wood ash to the beds is one way of achieving
that. The ideal pH value is 6.5 for optimal growing conditions.
For those of you with heavy soils,
don't despair. You can grow carrots successfully by choosing the
shorter varieties such as Early
Both of these varieties can be used to grow carrots in containers.
Carrot seeds are very fine, and the
biggest mistake people make when sowing the seeds is that they are done
too thickly. This results in too many carrots growing in one area, and
a lot of thinning out to be done which is a waste of the seed.
sure that they are evenly distributed and sown thinly mix the seed with
a small amount of dry river sand and then sow. An ideal way of doing
this is to take an old salt cellar, enlarge the openings a little, and
use this to sprinkle your seeds.
to a depth of
about a 1/2 inch or 6 mm.
Be patient when waiting for your
carrot seedlings to show. They can take anything from 2-4 weeks and
need to be
kept moist at all times. You may do this by placing wet burlap over the
beds but make sure that you remove these once the carrots start to
Thinning Out your Growing Carrots
Even if you do sow the
seed using river
sand, you will still need to thin your carrots out. After germination,
which will probably take anything from 2-4 weeks, your seedlings will
need thinning out.
Thin your carrots so that they are 2-3 cm apart when
the seedlings are about 5 cm high.
A second thinning will probably need
to be done when your carrots are 15 cm high. Thin them out to 5 cm
Don't waste the carrots that you have
thinned. The first lot of thinned out carrots can go onto the compost
heap. The second lot will have roots that are big enough to eat and can
be used either raw or cooked.
However, at all costs, don't leave the thinings on the soil near your
carrot plants. The crushed carrot leaves help the carrot fly to find
the carrots through smell.
Growing Carrots in Containers and Pots
The main issue with growing carrots in containers and pots is that you have to
make sure that you have enough depth to your container that you are
using to grow the carrots in. Usually the roots will grow to a depth of
about 6 inches and so you will need a container at least 9-10 inches
If you go to a shop that already sells fruit and vegetables invariably
they have polystyrene boxes that were used to transport the vegetables
or fruit in, and they will sell them to you at a $1 or so. These boxes
are sturdy, easy to make drainage holes into and are deep enough
containers for growing carrots in. You are also helping the environment
by recycling. However, polystyrene is a curse to our environment and
that shouldn't be forgotten.
Carrot seedlings growing in a container
However, ordinary buckets, terracotta pots or any other container that
is wide enough, deep enough and has drainage holes can be used to grow
Soil for Growing Carrots in Containers
The potting mix for your container should be light and have just the
You can make your own container
gardening soil by
taking 3 parts of good garden loam, 1 part of moistened peat moss, and
1 part coarse river sand. Added to this should be some well-rotted
manure or compost.
In addition to your organic material,
you can add the following to every 8 liters of soil:
1/2 cup Epsom salts
1/4 cup coffee grounds (rinse
4 egg shells (dried and
crushed to powder)
Sowing and Thining Carrot Seeds in Container
Don't over-sow the seeds
in your container. If your carrot seed is
fresh than one seed per hole, spaced out at 3 inches is perfect. All
your seeds will germinate and you will not have to worry about thinning
out the seeds later on.
If you do end up sowing too many seeds, then you will need to wait
until the carrots are at least 25 days old before you attempt to thin
out your fragile carrot seedlings. Do so with great care as you don't
want to lose all the seedlings in the clump by over disturbing the
In addition, you will need to make sure that if there are any parts
other than the leaves showing that you cover this area immediately with
more soil. If the stems remain bent with no soil covering, the roots
will not form carrots.
The main problem with container grown carrots, or any
vegetables grown in containers for that matter, is watering.
You will have to make sure that your containers never dry out, which
often happens with container gardening as you need to water them far
more than you would if they were out in the open ground.
Growing Carrots using Biodynamics
If you want to grow carrots using Biodynamics,
then you should not harvest the carrots to soon, but allow the natural
sugars time to develop. Spray the carrots with horn silica preparation
in the afternoon, 3-4 weeks before harvest when the moon is in Ram and
Carrots harvested on leaf days easily
rot in storage, so this time should always be avoided.
Companion Planting for Growing Carrots
The germination of
carrot seeds can be affected by
the soil if it crusts over the top of the seeds, making the fragile
carrot seedlings to emerge properly. If you have hot weather and soil
that tends to crust, a solution to this problem is to grow radishes
with your carrots.
Not only will the radishes emerge first, breaking
the crusty soil for the carrots and allowing them to emerge better, but
radishes and carrots are good companion
plants and help the other to grow.
Carrots can also be
together with lettuce, chives and onions. Onions are particularly good
to plant when you want to prevent carrot fly.
Problems, Pests and Diseases when Growing Carrots
Carrots are like
radishes, very easy to
grow once you have the soil conditions right. However, like every
vegetable, there are problems related to growing carrots that are
easily preventable or fixable.
One thing you should
prevent is the carrot root tops from turning green. This happens when
they grow above the soil line and are exposed to the sun. Just make
sure that the carrot roots are well-covered with soil.
With regards to pests and diseases they
are fairly free of these. "Top Weight". Western Red" and "All Seasons"
are 3 such varieties that are free from viral diseases. The most common
pest is the carrot
fly. However, this can be avoided by good
crop rotation practices.
The life cycle of the carrot rust fly
I, Larva; 2, magnified. 3
and 4, larvae appearing from the holes made in the Carrot. 5, form of
pupa; 6, magnified. 7, the fly (natural size and 8, the fly (magnified).
To prevent carrot fly
your carrots, never leave carrot tops lying about after thinning or
after harvesting. The carrot fly is attracted to the smell of the
bruised leaves. Water well after thinning to dilute the smell. See our
pages on natural
pesticides for some
recipes you can make in your kitchen to get rid of the carrot fly.
All of these carrots have been
affected with carrot fly
The other problem you may have is leaf
blight. If you find blight on your carrots destroy any
diseased material immediately. Always start with clean, good-quality
seed and practice crop rotation to minimize disease.
also can attack carrots causing the root to be distorted and the leaves
to turn yellow. You can spray aphids with soapy water, white oil or
rot may also affect Western Red during humid autumn
conditions, but Top Weight, All-The-Year-Round, Progress and most of
the carrot varieties today have a resistance to this
When to Harvest your Growing Carrots
Most varieties of carrots
days from sowing to harvest. By pulling the smallest ones
can prolong your harvest. The best way is to pull them up by giving
them a half-twist. This prevents the tops coming away in your hand and
leaving the carrot in the ground! Cut the tops off immediately. If you
don't cut to carrot tops off, the tops will continue to grow
on the carrot leaving them
limp and lifeless as they are taking the moisture and goodness out of
the root in order to grow.
If you are growing carrots on light soils, then they can stay in the
ground well into winter. Lift them from heavy caly and store in boxes
How many Carrots will I get from my Seeds?
how many carrots will you get as a crop? When growing carrots you can
expect a crop yield of about 500 g ( 1 lb, 2oz) per 1 square foot, (30 cm)
depends on the variety of the carrots you have planted. If you are
planting early varieties, you can expect a yield slightly less.
How to Store and Keep Carrots
If you harvest your
carrots when they
are young, they can be trimmed, washed and frozen whole. Larger carrots
need to be trimmed, washed peeled and then cut up into smaller pieces.
Blanch in some boiling, salted water. For small pieces blanch for 2
minutes, larger pieces for 4 minutes and whole carrots for 5 minutes.
To store carrots for a
long time you
can store them by burying them in wooden boxes filled with moist sand
or by covering them in mulched trenches outside.
COUNTRYFARM LIFESTYLES TIP:
you know that if you add 1 tablespoon of grated carrot to every batch
of jam you make, that you will never have any more trouble with jam
setting again? See some of our jam making recipes here.
Carrots are considered one of the top super
foods available.They are rich in Vitamin A and
Beta-carotene and therefore excellent for your eyes, helps keep your
arteries clear, and may prevent tumors from growing. See how to grow
blueberries and broccoli, two more super foods.
Questions & Answers on Carrot Growing Problems
Q. What causes my carrots to turn green on the
crown (top) of the root?
This condition is called "sunburning." It causes an off flavor and dark
green pieces in the cooked product. Cut away the green portion and use
the rest of the root. When the tops are healthy, sunburning can be
avoided by pulling a small amount of loose soil up to the row when the
roots are swelling (about 40 to 50 days after planting).
Q. Why are my carrots misshapen, with forked and
Forking may result from attacks of root-knot nematodes, from stones,
from deep and close cultivation or (more frequently) from planting in a
soil that was poorly prepared. Twisting and intertwining result from
seeding too thickly and inadequate thinning of seedlings.
Q. What causes my carrots to have fine hairy
roots, poor color and a bitter taste?
conditions are caused by a viral disease known as "aster yellows."
Q.What is causing my carrot
seedlings to burn off?
are trying to grow carrots in hot, sunny weather at a time that the
carrot plants are too tender. Sprinkle the plants with water, and keep
the soil moist.
Q.Why are my carrot roots cracked
The inside of the carrot grows faster than the skin. When your carrots
get a lot of water followed by no water or if you have overfertlized
the soil, this is when the problem occurs. Pile up the earth
to cover the crowns during growth and make sure the carrots are evenly
watered during the growing season.
Q. Why do my carrots have lots of
leaves but very little root growth?
have too much nitrogen in the soil.
Q.Why did my carrots run to seed
early without forming any roots?
Your seedlings were exposed to cool weather during an early spring
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