Early spring is just around the corner, and we are so excited to get outside in our gardens to plant new crops. This week, we’re turning our veggie spotlight to the orange veggie that just keeps giving – the carrot! Carrots are a rewarding and fun addition to your vegetable garden; planting carrots means you will have an easy grow period and an exciting harvest. They’re particularly sweet and crunchy root vegetables that literally everyone loves.
Often the star of a vegetable garden, carrots can be grown in many climates and are suitable for gardening novices and experts. If you keep in mind the type of carrot that you are planting, carrots can be grown almost all year round.
Here’s our complete guide on growing carrots, including harvesting and storage tips.
Why Grow Carrots?
You will want to add carrots to your vegetable garden this year because they are easy to grow, adaptable, and oh so delicious. You can grow this veggie from carrot seeds or carrot tops, not to mention you have endless options of carrot varieties to choose from. Carrots are biennial, meaning that they can produce a successful harvest every other year – make this year your year for carrots!
Carrots also have a slew of health benefits. They are a great source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, biotin, and potassium – vitamins A and B are wonderful for keeping your immune system healthy and strong.
Take a look at this article by Healthline, which describes all of the health benefits for adding fresh carrots to your diet.
As we always say, when you grow your own carrot crop instead of purchasing them at the grocery store, you can be 100% certain of what is going into, and what is staying out of, your harvest. Get growing!
When to Plant Carrots + When to Grow Carrots
Carrots are a cool-season veggie that is easy to grow. Carrots can be grown best in early spring and late fall for most climates – warmer climates can even grow them through the winter.
When planting carrots, keep in mind that they tolerate temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 degrees can make them taste bitter.
Long periods of freezing temperatures are not ideal, however, carrots can actually tolerate some frost — in fact, a light frost will actually make them taste sweeter! In general, you want to plant your carrots after the estimated last frost date for your growing zone. The optimal soil temperature for growing carrots is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
To find out whether you are a candidate to grow carrots successfully, look at the average temperatures during the year and determine when the temperatures fall into the appropriate range.
How Long Do Carrots Take To Grow?
Keep in mind that it takes about 2 months for carrots to mature, so you will need to plant your carrots when temperatures in your region are maintained for at least 2 months for optimal growth.
You should expect your entire growing period for a carrot harvest to take anywhere between 50-80 days, if you are growing your carrot from a seed to harvest.
The most popular varieties of carrots are the Nantes, Danvers, Chantenay, Imperator, Ball or Mini. There are also heirloom carrots that often come in ‘uncarroty’ colors such as, purple, black, yellow, and white.
According to Agrilife Extension, carrot varieties that grow best in Texas include Danvers 126, Danvers Half Long, Imperator 58, Nantes, Nantes Half Long, Red Core Chantenay, Royal Chantenay, Scarlet Nantes, and Sugar Snax. It’s important to keep in mind your climate when choosing which variety to add to your vegetable garden.
How to Grow Carrots from a Container
Growing carrots in containers is an easier, mess-free option to growing in a raised bed in your yard. Carrots are a root vegetable, so it is imperative that you choose a container that will allow them enough depth to grow. The ideal container for your carrot plants should be about 12-18 inches deep.
The key to successful container growing is to choose the right container and the right soil. Be sure to choose a container that breathes well, drains, and is deep enough. If you’re using a Gardenuity Grow Bag and a Gardenuity Gardening Kit, then you don’t have to worry about the logistics – we have you covered.
Next, pick a spot that gets enough sun, and observe as your garden flourishes!
Find the complete guide to container gardening here to get more in-depth tips regarding how to start your container carrot garden.
Growing Carrots Indoors
Growing your vegetable garden indoors is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of gardening with your family all year round. Carrots can be grown indoors, in fact, you’ll see that your carrots find it easy to grow in the loose, soft soil of your container garden.
Planting carrots indoors in loosened soil can be the perfect way to avoid deformities caused by hard, compacted soil. This is a great advantage to choosing not to plant your carrot garden outside. Depending on the amount of space and containers you have, there is a chance you would be able to grow a larger harvest outside – but this can technically be fixed!
How to Grow Carrots from Tops / Transplants
Purchase fully-rooted transplants from a trusted source, like Gardenuity. When transplanting, be very careful not to damage your plant by pulling on the stems to remove from their nursery pot, or bending the carrot roots when planting.
Alternatively, you can grow carrots from the “tops” of other carrots. To do so, follow the steps below.
- Using a sharp and clean knife, cut a half-inch from the leafy end of a carrot. Cut off the leaves.
- Fill a shallow dish with one-half inch of tap water and place the carrot tops in the water. Leave in a sunny place indoors.
- Over the next several weeks, keep the water level the same, replacing as needed. Green sprouts in the top of the carrot and small white roots at the bottom will appear in about a week.
- Plant the carrot tops in the potting soil when the roots are 1 inch long. The top should barely stick up from the soil. Water well!
How to Grow Carrots From Seeds
To grow your carrots from seeds, you will want to sow seeds about a half-inch deep and 1-2 inches apart. Be sure to water thoroughly and immediately, and take special care for the next few weeks, checking on your plants regularly. This is the most delicate stage of growth, so be on the lookout for watering and sunlight needs.
When growing from seeds, take additional care to thin properly. Additionally, weed consistently when your carrots are young — weeds steal nutrients from your carrots and stunt their growth.
You can bypass this precarious germination stage by opting to grow from transplants or tops. Which we suggest!
Thinning carrots is very important for successful carrot growth. By thinning your carrot garden, you are ensuring that your carrots have enough space to grow to full maturity. Otherwise, your carrots will end up crowding each other and stunting the growth of all roots. You will want to be sure that your carrots have at least two inches of space between one another.
Thin carrots in two stages.
- When seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin plants to stand 2 inches apart in rows. Snip off weak plants at the crown, taking care to not disturb the roots of plants that remain.
- Midseason, thin again. Pull up the smaller baby carrots to leave equal space between carrots that remain.
If radishes were grown with your carrot harvest, be sure to pull them as they mature, so that they do not further crowd your growing carrots.
How to Care for your Carrots
To prevent the soil from crusting around your carrots, scratch the surrounding soil lightly and drizzle the row with water often. You can also use a row cover for the seeds, such as vermiculite or sand. This is especially helpful for crops planted in the heat of the summer.
Soil is the home of your garden. It is vital that your garden’s soil contains the right consistency and nutrients so that your carrots can grow deep roots and thrive. Add plenty of soil amendments to your soil, but avoid using nitrogen-rich material. Nitrogen-rich amendments tend to create deformities in the carrots.
Carrots prefer sandy, loose soil – definitely avoid heavy soils like clay soil when you’re planting your carrots. Loosening the soil is a wonderful way to make your carrots extra happy. If you’re growing in a raised bed, till 12 inches deep to make sure there are no rocks or stones. If you’re growing in a container garden, use a well-draining potting mix.
If your vegetable garden looks like it needs a little bit of TLC, add a small amount of homemade compost to the soil. Take a look at our Complete Guide to Composting to learn more.
Carrots need consistently damp, but not soggy soil. Remember, it’s best to water in the morning. Make sure your carrot garden gets about 1 inch of water a week; if the weather doesn’t provide enough rainwater that week, make sure to give you carrots a good, quenching drink!
Another great way to check to see if your carrots need more water is to see if the first 3” of the soil surface are dry – if so, it’s time to water.
Ensuring your garden gets enough sunlight is imperative for fostering good growth. Carrot plants do not grow best when they are exposed to too much full sun or sunlight. If your carrots do receive too much direct sun exposure, your harvest will result in more foliage than root.
Ideally, you will want your carrot garden to receive about 6-8 hours of direct sun every day. If you live in a particularly warm and sunny climate, be sure to keep your vegetable garden in a partially shaded area. Alternatively, planting your carrots in a container is a fantastic way to manage how much sunlight the garden is receiving.
Growing Season Matters.
If growing in the late fall, winter, or early spring, carrots need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight. In the late spring or early fall, your garden will need a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight.
Two pests (out of others) you need to look at for are the carrot weevil and the carrot rust fly. The carrot rust fly is one of the most common pests that can plague a carrot garden. Carrot rust flies will eat holes in your veggies while they’re still planted in the soil. To combat the arrival of rust flies, you can create barrier walls or hoop houses around your raised bed or your container garden.
One fantastic way to prevent the settling in of carrot rust flies is to plant companion plants – we’ll talk more about this below.
To learn more about the intricacies of the carrot rust fly, read this article, Carrot Rust Fly: Combat this Carrot Killer Using a Few Simply Tricks, by Earth Easy.
Carrot Companion Plants
Planting carrots with companion plants is a great way to keep pests, such as carrot rust flies, away. Companion plants are plants that can be successfully grown in close proximity to one another. These plants mutually benefit one another throughout their growing processes.
Planting a perimeter of onions, garlic, or strong smelling annuals like marigolds, it is possible to distract carrot rust flies away from your crop.
See the below list for more companion plants for carrots:
Avoid planting your carrots around dill, parsnips, and potatoes – it’s best to space out root crops.
Carrot Growing Stages
Carrots are fairly easy growers! If you notice your plants are not sprouting up at all, give them a boost of fertilizer and make sure that you are watering them when their soil is dry.
Transplanting your carrots can cause the plants to go through a bit of shock from the changed environment. This is okay! Give your plants a little bit of TLC, and don’t panic if it takes a few days for their foliage to perk up again. Take a look at this article by The Spruce to learn some helpful tips for a safe and healthy transplant.
This root veggie is a quick and steady grower. You should see your carrot shoot up a sprout in a “V” shape within the first couple weeks of planting seeds. Let your plants continue to grow for 50-80 days, and during that time period you will see your carrot root begin to grow beneath the soil.
It’s Time to Harvest
You will know that it is time to harvest your mature carrots when the root beneath the soil is about one inch in diameter.
I Waited Too Long – Now What?
If you wait too long to harvest your carrot garden, that is okay! When you wait too long to harvest carrots, they can turn woody, bitter, and lose all of their sweetness.
How to Harvest Carrots
Carrots take about one and a half to two months to mature fully. You can leave them a little longer to get sweeter, but don’t wait too long! Carrots will eventually lose flavor and rot.
- To tell if your carrots are ready for harvest, brush dirt aside and check the root size. It’s best to harvest when your carrots are about 1 inch in diameter.
- The best time to harvest is at the end of a warm day when the carrots have collected a new batch of sweetness from the sun.
- Make sure your soil is damp before pulling the carrot roots from the soil.
- To harvest, pull up carrots by the tops and trim off leaves!
- To prevent the roots from wilting after harvest, remove the carrot tops and place them in the compost pile.
- Once pulled, cut the tops off, about ¼–½” above the root shoulders, and shake/rub off excess soil.
If you’re looking for extra sweet carrots, the best time to grow them is to harvest in the fall.
How to Store your Carrot Harvest
To store your freshly harvested carrots, trim off all but one-half inch of the green tops. Brush the dirt off the roots, but don’t wash until you are ready to eat so you can keep its protective layer intact. Refrigerate your carrots without the tops – these can be stored in the humidity drawer, or in a container cold water bath for up to a month.
You can also freeze your carrots in a zip-lock bag for up to nine months – after this time period, your carrots will not make you sick, however they will not taste as great as they do right after harvesting.
Grow Pro Tips for Growing Carrots
- Mulch your carrot garden! Mulching will help keep the soil moist around your carrots, which will also protect them from temperature extremes like heat and frost.
- Planting carrot seeds with radish seeds will help loosen the soil for the carrots to grow since radishes are quick to harvest.
- If the ground is cold enough, you can leave mature carrots in the soil temporarily! The cold temperatures cause the ground to act as a fridge.
- Both the roots and the leaves are edible! Carrots leaves are tender and tasty greens worth eating or storing in the freezer until you have enough veggie scraps to make your own veggie stock.
- Ever wonder why your carrot goes limp or rubbery in the fridge? That’s because they have become dehydrated! Carrot cells need moisture in and out of the ground to maintain the crunch we all love so much. Revive your carrots by putting them in cold water.
Carrot Recipes We Love!
Below are some carrot recipes that we absolutely love! These recipes are a great way to make use out of your carrot harvest! Did we mention they are healthy too?!
Our Grow Pro’s Most Frequently Asked Questions
Carrots can grow 12-18 inches deep.
Yes, you can easily grow carrots indoors in your container garden or Gardenuity Grow Bag!
Growing carrots in containers takes about the same amount of time as growing them in a raised bed – about 50-80 days. You can harvest your carrots as soon as they are big enough to eat.
You know that your carrots are ready for harvest when they are about 1 inch in diameter just beneath the soil.
Yes, you can grow a carrot from another carrot! You can easily grow a carrot from a carrot top by cutting the top off of a carrot, placing it in a bowl of water in the sun until 4” roots grow, and then planting it in soil.
Spacing is important, even when growing root veggies! Carrots need about 2-4” of space between one another in the soil. Your container should be at least 8” in diameter and 12-18” in depth.
Choose a fertilizer that has small amounts of nitrogen and more potassium and phosphate – 0-10-10 or 5-15-15 will work well. You can also use your own compost!
Carrots need about 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Be sure not to let your carrots get too much sun; they prefer partial shade.
The best soil for growing carrots is loose, smooth and fairly sandy soil. You want to avoid any compacted soil, as well as having large debris like rocks in the soil.
Start Growing your Own Carrots
This is a lot of information, but never fear! You can easily grow your own carrot garden with the help of our Grow Pro Services. Check out our vegetable garden kits, and get to growing today – we are here to help.