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How To Grow Carrots (Sweet, Crunchy Fresh Carrots)

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Learn how to grow carrots in your vegetable garden to enjoy this sweet, tasty vegetable all year! With a little care, you will be growing the best carrots you’ve ever eaten.

Carrots are one of the most loved vegetables we grow in our gardens.

They are easy to grow and do well in both cold and warm weather.

This makes it easy to start planting carrots early and still be harvesting them late into the fall.

How To Grow Carrots

The sweet, crispy taste of fresh homegrown carrots is something you just can’t compare to any carrot you’ve bought in the grocery store before.

Growing your own carrots also opens up a wide range of amazing heirloom varieties in shades of purple, red, yellow, white and of course yellow.

If you have trouble getting kids to eat their vegetables help them plant their own “rainbow” of carrots and they’ll love snacking on their own sweet carrots.

Planting Carrots

When To Harvest Carrots

One of the most important things about growing great carrots is to have nice loose soil. Carrots form a long tap root and if your soil is heavy clay or full of rocks it can cause the carrot to form short roots or fork (split and grow in two).

Prepare your planting bed by adding lots of well-aged compost. This will provide nutrients that help your carrots grow but also help to loosen your soil.

Starting Carrots By Seed

Carrots can be direct seeded in the garden 3 to 4 weeks before your last spring frost.

When you first open the package of carrot seeds you might wonder “How do I space carrots in my garden?” after all those seeds are tiny! Most of the time it just takes some patience.

I like to pour the seeds into a shallow bowl and then just pick up a pinch of seeds at a time.

But another great method if you are planting a lot of carrots at once is to use a seeder. They come in small hand seeders like this one or larger seeders that you push up and down the row.

To plant your carrots make rows 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep, it’s very important not to make the rows to deep as carrots are very small seeds. If planted too deeply they will struggle to come up.

Once your planting rows are ready, sprinkle the carrot seeds in the row placing 1 to 3 seeds per inch. Then lightly cover the seed with compost, soil or a thin layer of sand and water well.

Carrots will take 1 to 2 weeks to germinate on average but can take as long as 3 weeks depending on your growing conditions.

It’s very important to keep the soil moist to keep it from crusting over making it hard for the delicate carrot seedlings to come through.

The best way to do this is to water often and keep the soil covered until the carrots have sprouted.

Many people have success simply covering their carrot bed with a wooden board but you have to check often and remove it as soon as the carrots start to germinate.

I find that covering our carrots with a fleece row cover in the early season does a great job at keeping the soil moist and warm to encourage a good germination rate.

Later in the summer when extra heat isn’t needed using a shade cloth will help to keep the soil moist without adding heat.

Sow new carrots every 3 weeks from mid-spring until 8 weeks before your first frost so you have a continuous harvest all season.

How To Grow Carrots

Growing Rainbow Carrots

Do Carrots Grow In Sun Or Shade?

Carrots are a very easy to grow vegetable, they love to grow in full sun but will also grow well in part shade.

If you have enough room you can plant early spring and fall carrots in a sunny area of your garden because the soil will be the warmest there. This will get them growing faster.

But during the summer carrots will be quite happy growing in a shady area as long as they can get about 5 hours of sunlight.

How Often Do You Water Carrots?

If you’ve been wondering “How often should I water my carrots?”, it depends on the stage of growth they are at.

After planting the seedbed needs to be watered often to keep the soil moist. This can mean watering daily if the weather is hot until the seeds have all germinated.

At this stage, less water but more often is best!

Once the carrots are up and growing cut back on how often you water.

It’s better to water deeply once a week then less water more often at this stage. It will encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil. For best results give carrots 1 inch of water per week.

Weeding

Once carrots have grown up enough that the tops are thick weeds are not as much of a concern but when carrot seedlings are small weeds can easily crowd them out.

Make sure to keep on top of the weeds by hoeing or pulling them often.

Mulching

Carrots love to grow in moist but not soggy soil. Mulching around your plants will help to reduce weeds, and keep moisture in the soil so you don’t need to water as often.

Good mulches for carrots are grass clippings, straw, shredded leaves, and small wood chips.

Covering Carrot Shoulders

As carrots grow the shoulders of the carrot start to pop up above ground. When they are exposed to sunlight this can cause them to turn green and bitter.

The easiest way to prevent carrot shoulders from turning green is to mulch around the plants when they are small.

Thinning Carrots

Carrot Seedlings

Carrots are really tiny seeds and not always easy to plant by hand. But if you try to make sure you only plant 1 to 2 seeds per inch it makes it easy to get 2 carrot harvests off one bed!

Once the carrots are large enough simply harvest every other carrot when the shoulders are about 1/2 an inch wide. Then leave the remaining plants to mature.

Varieties Of Carrots

Scarlet Nantes

Scarlet Nantes is one of my favourite carrots to grow! This variety matures early but can also be grown as baby carrots. They grow 6-7 inch long roots that are cylindrical with blunt rounded tips.

Nantes are a great choice for any garden but especially if you have clay soil.

Get Scarlet Nantes seeds here.

Danvers Half Long

Danvers carrots grow to be 7 to 8 inches long with wide shoulders and a slightly tampered root. Their shape and strong top make them easy to pull from the ground.

This variety stores very well for winter use.

Get Danvers Half Long seeds here.

Carrot Rainbow Mix

If you want to have some fun in your garden then try growing this rainbow mix! Filled with great tasting heirloom carrot seeds even your kids will love growing their own rainbow.

Get Rainbow Carrot Seeds here.

St Valery

This heirloom carrot is a great choice for juicing because it’s a very sweet variety. But it’s also good for freezing and root cellar storage so makes a good all-round homestead carrot.

It grows roots 6 to 7 inches long and is almost coreless.

Get St Valery seeds here.

Harvesting Carrots

Growing Fresh Carrots

When you go to harvest carrots you may think you simply grab the green top growth and pull the carrot out of the ground.

While you can do this many times the carrot tops just aren’t strong enough to be pulled on this way without breaking.

Instead, it’s much better to use a garden fork to loosen the soil a little first and then lift the carrots out.

When Do You Harvest Carrots?

Are you wondering how long do carrot take to grow until harvest? You can harvest carrots at any stage as soon as they are large enough to eat.

For baby carrots are normally reading to harvest in 50 to 60 days when the shoulders are 1/2 an inch wide.

Mature carrots will take a few more weeks, normally at least 75 days before they are ready to harvest but this will depend on the variety of carrots you are growing.

If you want the sweetest carrots, time them to mature after the cool weather has set in. When the weather turns cool in the fall the carrot starts to store more sugar in its root and it tastes much sweeter!

Pests

Slugs can be a problem for young carrot seedlings, control slugs in your garden with these easy tips.

Earwigs are another insect that feeds on young plant growth although they can also be beneficial in the garden too.

Carrot Rust Fly lays its eggs at the base of carrots. The larva then chews tunnels through the surface of the carrot root causing it to rot.

Wireworms are the larva from click beetles. They chew irregularly shaped holes through the roots of carrots.

Summary

Growing carrots in your vegetable garden is really easy and well worth it! Focus on these simple steps for growing success.

  • Plant carrots by seed 3 weeks before your last frost date in the spring and every 3 weeks for a continual harvest.
  • Keep the soil covered and moist until they germinate in 1-2 weeks.
  • Mulch to keep weeds down, retain moisture and prevent carrot shoulders from turning green.
  • Provide 1 inch of water a week for good growth.
  • Thin the carrots when the shoulders reach 1/2 inch wide and use them as baby carrots leaving the rest to mature.
  • Dig don’t pull the carrots when harvesting.

Don’t forget to pin for later!

Tips For Growing Carrots In Your Garden
Grow Lots Of Carrots Home Garden
How To Grow Carrots All Year

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