How to Grow Carrots from Seed
Carrots are an easy root crop to grow and come in several different colors. If you can’t get your child to eat orange carrots, growing a white or purple variety in your home garden might just change their mind about the vegetable.
Carrots are a cool season vegetable and they will tolerate late spring frost and early fall frost. Two crops of this carrots can be planted each year making them a vegetable that you can enjoy fresh from the garden several months each year. Use these tips for planting and growing your own fresh carrot patch from seeds.
Carrots grow well in most hardiness zones as long as they are given plenty of sunshine and sandy soil in which to grow.
Carrots must have loose, well-draining soil in which to grow. Prepare 12-inch deep raised beds filled with a mixture of 70% potting soil, 10% compost and 20% sand. If planting in-ground, till soil to 12 inches deep, then add 4 inches of compost and 2 inches of sand and lightly till soil again.
Carrots are one vegetable that hates cow manure as a soil ammendment. If cow manure is added to the soil as a fertilizer, developing carrots will split and grow ‘legs’. Save the cow manure for other garden crops and use sand as the soil ammendment this time.
After tilling soil deeply, remove all debris and rocks, then rake soil smooth. Carrots take up very little garden space and make great growing companions for tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, cabbage and lettuce.
Sowing Carrot Seeds
Sow carrot seeds on top of prepared soil in very early spring as soon as soil is workable. If a couple more frosts are predicted and/or occur, the carrots with not be harmed. Frost actually enhances their naturally sweet flavor. Sow a second crop of carrots in the late summer for a fall harvest. Most carrot varieties take 60-70 days from seed planting until harvest time. Cover seeds lightly with potting soil, water in well, then add one inch of hay to prevent the sunlight from shining on the seedlings. Once plants are one inch tall, thin them out to three inches apart.
Water plants deeply once a week and keep ‘shoulders’ covered with a light layer of organic mulch. Add a side dressing of compost six weeks into the growing season to provide enough nourishment to get the carrots to maturity.
Harvesting and Storing Carrots
Carrots are ready for harvest in 60-70 days and are harvested by gently scratching away the soil from around the shoulders, then grasping firmly and pulling straight up. If the soil does not freeze in your region during the winter, carrots can be left in-ground all winter and harvested as needed. If they are left in the ground all winter, the green tops will produce seed-bearing flowers.
To store harvested carrots in the refrigerator, remove green tops, wash in cold water, dry thoroughly, then place in an air-tight plastic bag and store in the lowest part of the refrigerator until needed. Our carrot seeds can be purchased here.
Recommended Carrot Varieties
Many varieties of this popular root vegetable are available.
- Nantes carrots are sweet, crisp, bright orange, doesn’t have a tapered end and are one of the easiest varieties for a home gardener to grow.
- Purple Dragon is, as the name indicates, purple with a tapered end.
- White Satin is a white, crisp carrot that grows to be about 8 inches long without a tapered end.
- Romeo grows in the shape of a radish making it a good choice for shallow container growing.
- Royal Chantenay carrots: Tasty carrots that tolerate heavy, clay, and shallow soils. Grows 12-16 cm long.
- Rainbow carrots: Try our seed blend for growing rainbow carrots . This organic blend contains white, red, purple, yellow and orange carrot varieties.