It’s not very hard to learn how to grow carrots – simply put: Place carrot seed in growing medium and let nature do it’s thing. But for those wanting a more in depth guide to help you to grow carrots more successfully, here is a comprehensive article dedicated to growing carrots.
How To Grow Carrots From Seed
First you need to check the temperature of your soil, carrots need at least six degrees centigrade to germinate. You need to make sure your soil has not had any fertiliser/manure in it within the last 6 months as this will deform the crop. You also need to ensure the soil doesn’t contain too many stones as this will make the carrot fork.
Next prepare your seed bed by raking it to a fine tilth and sow your carrot seed in shallow rows (approximately 3 seeds every 5cms). The depth you plant your carrot seeds should be roughly double the size of the seed itself. See seed packet for more detail.Then cover them with soil and water in with a fine rose.
It is important to keep the seeds moist until they germinate then only water in dry spells because carrots are a root crop and you want the root to stretch down deep into the soil to find moisture and grow larger as it does.
After the seedlings begin to grow, thin them by snipping with scissors so that you have one carrot plant every 5cm.
The most successful way I have grown carrots from seed was by making a seed tape, this is used to assist with planting distance.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Carrots
The length of time it takes to grow carrots depends on which variety you are trying to grow. Early varieties of carrots take around twelve weeks to mature and main crop varieties take a bit longer (roughly sixteen weeks).
Temperature variations and differing moisture levels will also affect the growing time of any carrot variety so the best way to check if your carrots are ready to harvest is by gently brushing the topsoil away from the base of the leaves and seeing how big the carrot top is. If it’s not as big as you would like it to be just replace the soil and try again in a weeks time.
When To Grow Carrots
Carrots can be grown at different times during the year depending on the equipment you have available, so I have broken this down into two sections:
When to sow carrots outdoors
Carrots need to be planted during early spring, in the UK carrots should be sown from March to July and then harvested either 12 or 16 weeks after you initially planted them, depending on the variety (as stated above).
When to sow carrots in a greenhouse
You can grow carrots in your green house when your soil is above 6 degrees, this will obviously vary depending on where you live but for me in England, I usually start them off in a container around February and again harvest them 12 or 16 weeks later, depending on the variety (as stated above).
How To Grow Carrots In Pots
To grow carrots in pots you need to get a large container or bucket – I use a two gallon bucket as I find this is big enough for the amount of carrots I want to grow. Fill with compost and sow seeds in the usual way described above.
Water the pot well and then leave for anything up to 3 weeks to germinate. Check that the soil doesn’t completely dry out and wait for your seedlings to appear.
Once the carrot seedlings appear simply give a good soaking once a week (more if your greenhouse is very hot) and you should aim to have three inches between each carrot plant to grow a fair size carrot, simply snip any that are too close with scissors to avoid disturbing the ones you wish to keep.
A Word Of Warning – Carrot Fly
The carrot fly is one of the main obstacles new gardeners face when growing carrots. I say new because once they have attacked your carrots once you will most likely do your upmost to avoid letting them attack again.
The carrot fly is a small fly that smells out carrots in order to lay eggs. These eggs then hatch into grubs that will tunnel through the carrot, making them inedible (as shown in the picture above).
Stopping the carrot fly
Stopping the carrot fly is actually relatively simple, as they can only fly up to 60cm high. This means you can easily keep them away by placing a barrier around your carrots that is taller then 60cms, or covering with a fine mesh (like old net curtains). Another couple of options are growing them in a greenhouse (where they can’t get in) or growing your carrots in raised beds/containers that are over 60cms high.
The Best Way To Grow Carrots
There are a lot of different ways to grow carrots that I have had a lot of fun experimenting with and although I advise you to try all the ones mentioned above to help you to grow as a gardener, if you are looking for a more “guaranteed results” method (or as close to that as you can get when gardening) then the best method I would recommend is growing your carrots in a container inside a greenhouse. This is because it is a great way to prevent the carrot fly getting to your carrot plants and you can control the amount of water your carrots get. As overwatering can cause carrots to have no flavour. This can be an issue when growing outside, especially where I am located in England.