Plant Identification -
- Binomial Name - Daucus carota
- Family - Apiaceae
- Relatives - Parsley, Chervil, Parsnip, Caraway & many others.
Basic Requirements for Growing Carrots -
- Container - Since the majority of people grow carrots for their taproot, it's essential to provide a container that will be able to house these underground treats. When choosing a container to grow carrots in, depth will be the determining factor. For most carrots to grow properly, a depth of soil at least eight to twelve inches is needed.
- Fertile & Clump Free Soil - For carrots, a clean and clump-free soil is much more important than fertility. Rocks, wood chips, and clumps of compacted soil can all cause your carrot roots to become stunted and deformed as they grow downwards. To solve this issue, shift through your potting soil to ensure that there's nothing that will hang your carrot roots up. Once properly sifted, carrots will grow in just about any potting soil thrown their way.
- Full Sun - Carrots will appreciate at least 5-6 hours of full sun daily. For container gardeners, the majority of east, west, and south facing patios will be able to grow carrots successfully.
Growing Carrots in a Container -
|Pallet planter box for carrots and|
beets. Carrot holes are to the left
and spaced at 2.5" apart. 4/7/13
- Two to four weeks before the average last frost in your area, carrot seeds may begin to be sown. Since carrot seedlings do not like to be transplanted, or even moved around for that matter, you'll be planting the seeds directly into their final container.
- Using a square foot or high density planting technique, poke shallow hoes in the soil (1/4" - 1/2" deep), spaced three inches from each other in all directions. Utilizing this method, you'll be able to harvest 16 carrots for every square foot of garden space planted.
- Sow the seeds and gently cover them with a loose layer of topsoil. water the seeds in well, and keep them evenly moist until the seeds have begun to sprout. Carrot seeds germinate typically within 7-14 days.
- Once the carrot seedlings start to emerge, continue to provide water. To meet the water requirements of carrots, plan to water thoroughly once the top two inches of soil has become dry.
Harvesting Carrots -
See, the great thing about carrots is that there's a large window for harvesting. Depending on the variety grown, smaller carrots can be ready for harvest in as little as 50-60 days after sprouting. For larger and more mature carrots, you may need to wait a full 70-90 days before harvesting can be commenced. To see the size of your carrot before harvesting, uncover the soil at the base of each plant, exposing the top of the carrot root. Personally, I like to harvest my carrots once the top of the root has reached a size comparable to that of a nickel or quarter. If you're not satisfied with the size of your carrots, just cover the base back up and let them continue to grow.
|Carrot foliage from the 2012 season.|
Tips for Growing Carrots -
- Amend Potting Soil with Calcium - One month before you plan to sow your carrot seeds, amend the potting soil by mixing in ground egg shells. I mix in a half teaspoon of egg shells for every carrot to be grown. Make sure that the eggshells are ground to a fine powder so that it is easier for calcium to be released into the soil. This extra calcium will help carrot roots plump up and boost overall yields.
- Companion Plant with Alliums - Carrots and members of the allium family (garlic, onions, shallots etc.) will go a long ways to help each other. Alliums help keep the carrot fly at bay, while the carrots keep the onion fly away. Great deal right?
- Storage of Excess Carrots - With high density planting, you'll probably be harvesting more carrots than you'll be able to eat. For storage of carrots, cut the tops off each plant and clean/dry the root. From there, find a small container and fill with a thin layer of play sand. Lay out one layer of carrots on the sand, taking care to ensure that they don't touch each other. Cover with sand and repeat until all carrots have been laid out. Now, just pop the container in the veggie compartment of the fridge, and you'll have fresh carrots on hand. They'll save for several months like this!
No matter where you're located, if you stick closely to the information found in this guide on how to grow carrots from seed in containers, you'll have no problems growing these famous root crops! Best of all, those pesky rabbits roaming through the open fields won't be an issue, as your carrots will be safe and sound, tucked in their container home! Grow in the spring, or grow in the fall. Whatever you do, just grow some carrots already!