The Complete Guide to Growing Carrots

growing carrots

You can grow your own carrots in your garden, greenhouse, or indoors. Carrots require deep, loose soil, plenty of water, and full sun for several hours per day. You can plant carrots near other mature crops, like tomatoes, onions, leeks, rosemary, and sage, to help prevent pest infestations.

Difficulty

Relatively easy

Type of Plant

Vegetable

Sunlight

Plenty of sunlight

Soil Type & pH

Sandy soil, neutral pH

Hardiness Zones

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Buy Supplies

seeds, soil, trellises, pruners, pots.

Quick Tip: Avoid using fresh manure before planting your carrots. This can cause carrots to split or "grow legs."

For the best results, plant carrot seeds about 12 weeks before the first frost in your area, and they’ll be ready for harvest in the fall. Sproutabl provides all the information you need for growing your own carrots in your garden.

carrot plant care tips

SUN REQUIREMENTS


Carrots are not the most finicky when it comes to their requirements for sun, but they do need adequate lighting to thrive. Although they can tolerate partial shade, the optimal way to grow them is in full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours per day.

It’s important to remember what you’re planting near your carrots. Since carrots grow underground, only the leafy greens are above the ground, and they don’t grow very tall. However, these leafy greens are what takes in the sunlight carrots need to grow and perform photosynthesis.

If you have taller plants or shrubs blocking your carrots, they may receive too much shade during certain parts of the day, which can prevent them from gaining access to adequate sunlight. It’s best to keep carrots near shorter plants, or in an area by themselves in your garden.

You should also check carrots often to make sure the orange part of the carrot isn’t exposed to sunlight. With too much sun exposure, the orange part will turn green and bitter, rendering it unusable. You can prevent this by mulching around the greens once your plants become established.

SOIL pH & PREP


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Photo by spiritquest licensed under CC BY 2.0

Since carrots grow deep within the soil, you’ll need an area of your garden with a depth of at least 10 to 12 inches. Raised garden beds work well for carrots for this reason, as you can build them to the height you need.

Remove all rocks, weeds, and other debris from your bed that may interfere with carrot growth in the soil. Make sure your soil is tilled so it’s loose, airy, and gives carrots plenty of space to grow. Consider adding phosphorus to the soil, which promotes hardiness and root growth.

Carrots grow best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, which is the typical range for many vegetables. When kept at this pH range, your carrots’ soil will help the roots absorb nutrients and prevent toxicity that can hurt your crop. If your soil is too alkaline, add elemental sulfur; if it’s too acidic, mix in a lime additive. Continue to test the pH until it’s within the proper range.

Once your soil is prepared, this video by Utah State University Extension demonstrates how to plant carrot seeds:

WATER REQUIREMENTS


If you watered your soil before planting carrot seeds, you probably won’t need to water them again until about a week after planting. For most areas, your carrots may need a good watering each week. However, if your area gets a lot of rain, you may only need an occasional watering.

To check if your carrots need water, use your fingers to feel a few inches down into the soil near your plants. If it feels dry, you’ll need to water your carrots.

Water the plants slowly so you don’t risk removing soil from the underground part of the carrot. A garden hose mist, rather than intense spray, is adequate. Make the soil moist, but not wet. Check after you water to make sure the soil is moist a few inches down, as your carrots grow several inches down into the ground.

Try to water carrots early in the morning, so the sun has a chance to evaporate extra water through the day. Your greens can be wet when you water, but remaining wet for too long may cause them to wilt or rot. Additionally, soil that remains too wet can harbor bacteria and invade your carrots with diseases.

HARDINESS ZONES


Carrots are hardy in zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Carrots are cold weather crops, but can grow in most hardiness zones, as long as you have a period of cooler weather. Carrots need about 10 to 12 weeks to fully mature for harvest. So, once you know your hardiness zone, you can figure out when is the best time to plant carrots in your region.

First, find the date of the typical first frost in your area. Then, count back about 12 weeks to ensure full maturity before frost occurs. That date is when you should plant your carrots for a fall harvest.

For example, a warmer state, like Louisiana, won’t expect its first fall frost until mid-November. Gardeners in this area will want to count back 12 weeks, putting their planting date around the 2nd to last week of August. Maine, a cooler state, can expect its first frost near the first week of October, so its carrot planting week should be near mid-July.

WHERE TO GROW


You absolutely can grow carrots indoors, outdoors, in containers, or in a greenhouse. Basically, wherever you decide to grow them, they’ll grow. Of course, you’ll need to provide them with the right care, soil, nutrients, and sun for them to thrive.

Growing carrots indoors can be a little trickier, however, than growing them outside in your garden. Taking into consideration how deep into the ground carrots grow - as much as a foot, if you’re lucky - they need plenty of deep soil to move in. So, unless you have a very deep container, you may end up with tiny carrots.

Also, carrots need several hours of full sun per day. They’ll fare well in a greenhouse or outdoors in the garden or containers, but it can be difficult providing them enough sunlight indoors unless you have an extra sunny room.

Therefore, it is recommended to grow carrots in your garden. If you opt for growing carrots indoors, use a large, deep grow bag or container. Set your containers outside for at least a few hours per day so they can get plenty of sun, if you don’t have a sunny enough location in your home.

Diane Mumm shows how to plant small finger carrots from seed in indoor containers:

COMPANION PLANTS


Carrots grow well next to other types of produce. You just need to ensure that your carrots aren’t getting the majority of their sun blocked by taller plants, as they’ll need a few hours of full sun per day.

According to Organic Gardening Tips, tomatoes are excellent companions to carrots. They grow taller than carrots and can provide a small amount of shade for extra-sunny days, but without blocking all the sun from your carrots. Just make sure you plant them over a foot apart so they don’t compete for nutrients and water.

To protect carrots against common pest infestations, like carrot flies, plant carrots near leeks, onions, rosemary, and sage. These help to act as repellents against carrot flies once their plants have become established.

LEARN MORE


If you want all the details for growing carrots in your garden, Sproutabl has you covered. From understanding the types of carrots and seeds to recommendations for the best carrot fertilizer, you’ll be on your way to growing your own, delicious carrots in no time.

Check out our right sidebar, where you’ll find all of our up-to-date information about growing your own carrots.

Photo by NY Photographic licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Carrot fact source: Statista.

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