The Value of Transplanting Carrots

While you may not think transplanting carrots as a viable option, there are times when it can make the difference between getting a carrot harvest or not. Transplanting carrot seedlings allows you to plant carrots at the best temperature for optimal growth and space them to give them the room they need.

You can also transplant carrot tops that you have started in either soil or water. You can double your yield easily with plants that you harvested from your garden. Store-bought carrots with greens intact provide another option and a chance at regrowth.

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Transplanting Carrot Seedlings

Transplanting carrots is not the way you'll usually grow them. Rather, carrots are grown directly from seeds. They have a good germination rate, making this a viable practice. However, you might consider transplanting carrot seedlings.

transplanting carrots

Photo by GoFinland licensed under CC0.

Transplanting allows you to jumpstart the growing season by planting carrot seeds indoors when it's too cold to plant. You might consider this option to hit the ideal growing temperature for carrots. Temperature is a critical factor for carrots. Spring marks the best growing time since they are a cool season plant. But sometimes even the best-laid plans fall short.

Finding the Right Temperature

Carrots grown in temperatures in the mid-80s degree Fahrenheit may not thrive, explains the University of California. Even worse, it can cause unwanted flavors. Likewise, carrots grown in cooler temperatures around the 50 degrees Fahrenheit mark won't grow fast. This slowdown can affect your chances for a successful harvest.

The longer they stay in this early state of growth, the more vulnerable they are to damage. When you handle seedlings during transplanting, you’ll see why. The ideal temperature for carrots is 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Carrots will grow well and reach their peak color.

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Handling Seedlings

You should wait until your carrot seedlings are about an inch high before transplanting. You want to do this when they’ve set down a root of at least equal size, but before they become entangled with other seedlings. The key to success is a gentle hand.

Here's a quick video of the process to consider before we go into more detail:​

Begin by preparing the ground for the seedlings. Space holes about two to three inches apart, depending upon the carrot variety. Larger carrot varieties, naturally, will need more room than smaller ones. The holes need only be deep enough to accommodate the roots.

The advantage of taking this initial step is that you minimize the time that the seedlings are out of the soil and subject to drying out. To plant them, ease a single plant apart gently from the other plants. Take care not to damage the seedling.

All parts of the plant are delicate and easy to tear at this stage. Once separated, place each plant into a hole, adding soil around the root to keep the plant upright. John Hughes demonstrates the process.

From the carrot’s perspective, there is another advantage in addition to temperature. Separating carrot seedlings early in the game reduces competition from other plants, including other carrots. Carrots don’t handle competition well, giving them their spot when they're young gives them an edge.

Transplanting Carrot Tops

Transplanting carrot tops is a clever way to get more from your store-bought carrots or garden-grown harvest. If you have carrots with a bit of the top leftover, you have what you need to begin. Start by preparing your transplant site in a container filled with a potting soil mix suitable for vegetables.

Then, cut about a one-inch piece of carrot below the greens. Place the carrot into the soil, taking care to cover the entire carrot top. Covering the top is important to prevent sunburning. This condition occurs later in the growing season. As carrots get ready for harvest, they push up out of the soil. Exposed parts can turn green if they stay in the sun too long.

The result is off-flavors in your carrots. However, you also want to avoid burying any of the green tops. Remember, plants depend upon their leaves to produce food and energy from photosynthesis. This video from the Grow and Bank Channel shows how to transplant carrots plants.

Alternative Ways to Start Carrot Tops

You can start carrots for transplanting in water instead of the soil. The advantage of this method is that carrots are going into the ground with roots under development. Right out of the gate, they can tap into the available nutrients. The process couldn't be simpler.

You either place carrot tops as described above directly into a cup or container of water. As with planting in the soil, you shouldn’t allow water to cover the green tops of the carrots to prevent rot or mold from developing.

Alternatively, you can suspend the carrot in a cup of water using toothpicks pushed into the carrot top, so it sits on the lip of the cup. The advantage of this method is that it replicates the natural growing conditions that allow the root to grow down into the soil. Placing the carrot top directly onto the bottom of the cup will encourage root development from the sides.

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Either method will encourage root development. The advantage is that you can monitor its growth because you can see what’s going on. As with carrots grown in containers, a window with a southern exposure will ensure the carrot tops get enough light to produce food for your growing carrots.

You should change the water daily to prevent bacteria growth. Make sure you rinse the cup as well and refill with room-temperature water to avoid shocking the plants. Once established, you can transplant the carrot tops to a container or into a garden outdoors. A video from the Natural Wonders Channel shows you how easy it is to re-grow carrot tops.

Transplanting carrot seedlings is a smart way to give your new plants a better shot at surviving in an outdoor garden if weather conditions are too cold. But the benefits don’t stop there. Growing carrot tops from carrots from your garden or the store lets you reap double the rewards. And the best kind of carrots are the ones you grow yourself.

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