Carrot Growing Guide
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Carrot Growing Guide

Growing Carrots in Your Garden

Carrots are sweet, crunchy, delicious, and nutritious, making them an excellent addition to your home garden. These Vitamin A rich vegetables can be cooked, eaten raw, preserved and make an excellent addition to so many dishes. If you’ve eaten a carrot from the grocery store, and never had one fresh from the garden, you are missing out on carrots’ true sweetness. From harvesting to the grocery store, the natural sugars in carrots will turn to fiber and not have the same flavor profile as a market or homegrown counterparts. They are a cool-season crop that belongs to the Apiaceae family alongside parsnips, celery, and cilantro. These are flowering vegetables with very similar leaf structures.If they’re allowed to bolt (grow flowers) carrots can reseed and be grown as a biennial.

Carrot Varieties

Imperator

Imperator carrots are long and thin, up to 10 inches long. This variety needs loose soil so that the roots don't get compacted while they're growing. Most baby carrots you find in grocery stores are actually Imperator carrots because of their higher sugar content.

Danvers

Danvers carrots are the carrots that have all of the characteristics of the traditional carrot. They usually grow from 4" - 6" with rounded tops and pointed tips, classic deep orange color, and a sweet flavor profile.

Nantes

The Nantes carrot is known for its almost perfectly cylindrical shape from top to bottom and blunted ends. This type have very little cores and are a favorite among chefs for their sweet flavor and deep orange color.

Chantenay

Chantenay carrots are excellent for those with rocky or clay soil for their power to push through soils that aren't typically ideal. They have short conical roots that measure 2" - 3" on average. Chantenay carrots shouldn't be left to get too large and should be harvested early so they don't turn fibrous.

Purple Carrots

Purple carrots get their color from a high concentration of the antioxidant anthocyanin. They make amazing carrots for juicing and give a colorful pop to salads and soups.

Yellow Carrots

Yellow carrots are typically sweeter than orange varieties. Their taproots are not woody or fibrous and gives them a great texture. Yellow carrots are wonderful candidates for pickling and will maintain their sweet flavor profile during the pickling process.

What Season Should You Plant Carrots?

Carrots like cool weather and don’t tolerate heat well at all. This make them a perfect vegetable to plant in either Spring or early Fall. Carrot seeds tend to germinate better at a soil temperature of at least 55°F – 65°F, but not as high as 75°F.

Depending on your climate, if you’re planning on a Spring harvest, start your seeds outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before your last Spring frost. For a fall harvest, you’ll want to get your seeds in the ground much earlier – from 8 to 10 weeks before your first Fall frost.

Can You Grow Carrots In Containers?

Carrots are well suited for containers with a little planning. Your container should be deep enough to make sure that the roots have plenty of room to grow down in loose, well draining soil. So depending on the size of your container, a smaller variety like the stout Oxheart Carrot would be an ideal candidate to grow in a container like a Root Pouch.

A major benefit to growing carrots in containers is weed control. While carrots naturally do a good job of suppressing weeds because of their hefty tops, growing them in containers helps with weed control even more so.

Container grown carrots need more moisture on average than carrots grown in the ground but too much moisture can cause the roots to rot. So make sure that your container is well draining to keep moisture balanced.

Did you know?

Originally, carrots came in various colors such as purple, white, red, and yellow. It wasn't until the 17th century that Dutch growers selectively bred orange carrots in honor of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. Through this breeding process, orange carrots became popular, and their vibrant color is now the most well-known and widely cultivated variety of carrots worldwide. So, the orange carrot we enjoy today has a royal history!

Carrot Plant Spacing

Maximizing Space

Carrots grow best when direct-seeded outdoors and doesn’t transplant well because they don’t like having their roots disturbed. Carrot seedlings may have a hard time emerging due to hard top soil, or crusting. See Extra Credit below for a handy tip to avoid crusting!

We recommend direct seeding carrots in a thick band along the desired row. This will ensure a solid stand of carrots and help to aid in weed control once tops get larger. Carrots are a great crop for double-row planting on drip irrigation. When choosing a spot to grow summer squash, full sun is always recommended.

For this strategy, plant two rows 3″ apart with drip tape in the middle then skip about 12′, then plant another two rows 3″ apart. The double row technique allows for easy weed control because the tops shade the area between the double rows. It also allows you to maximize the garden space because you can get two rows of harvest for almost the same amount of space as one row.

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing – 2 to 3 feet
Plant Spacing – 24 to 40 seeds per ft in the row (On the higher rate come back and thin after they emerge)
Planting Depth – Lightly cover

Raised Bed & Container Planting

Row Spacing – 1 to 2 feet
Plant Spacing – 24 to 40 seeds per ft in the row or 24 to 30 per sq ft (On the higher rate come back and thin after they emerge)
Planting Depth – Lightly cover

Important Note

Keep the carrots seed bed wet until the seeds germinate. If the beds get dry it will cause delayed and poor germination.

Carrot Plant Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Carrots

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 7.0
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Carrots grow best in a sandy loam soil so that the root has enough space to grow downward and not get stunted or misshapen. While you can absolutely grow carrots in clay soil, you just have to make sure that it is well drained and fairly loose. Be sure and match the appropriate carrot type to your soil type. An easy way to determine the type is that stubby type carrots can grow in clay soils but all carrots grow well in sandy soil.

HOSS always recommends getting a soil sample to your local extension office several weeks before planting. Once you get your results, you will need plenty of time to adjust your soil accordingly and make sure your plants are getting the best nutrients possible as soon as they hit the ground.

Click here to find your local extension office.

Carrot Irrigation Requirements

Drip irrigation will control the amount of water each plant gets and will push water into the soil slowly and precisely for maximum absorption. Too much water too fast can cause stress to the plants and keep oxygen from getting to the root systems. On the flip side, too little water can result in low yields and increased disease and pest issues, and a host of other problems. As a good rule of thumb, regardless of how you water your carrots, be sure they’re getting at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week but checking in on your plants and watering as needed is really the best way to manage irrigation for carrots.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 1-2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 14 Days After

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble -AND- Dr. Joe All Purpose Growing Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 5 sq. ft or 5 ft of row in raised beds.

Raised Bed & Container Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Every 14 Days After

Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Carrot Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Spinosad Garden Insect Spray
Leaf Miners

Neem Oil
Aphids, Leaf Miners

Horticultural Oil
Aphids, Leaf Miners

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Leaf Miners

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Army Worms, Whiteflies

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms, Leaf Miners

Non-Organic Controls

Bug Buster II
Aphids, Wireworms, Cutworms, Mole Crickets, Leaf Miners

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Proper Crop Rotation
Root Knot Nematode, Southern Blight

Complete Disease Control
Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spots, Grey Mold

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Carrots

When & How To Harvest Carrots

Carrots generally taste better the smaller they are because the sugars in the vegetable haven’t begun to convert to fiber. The best way to determine if your carrots are ready for harvest is to check the top of the root for its size. If you’re growing carrots like the long, thin Viper Carrot, they will be mature at around 1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter. Stockier varieties like the Hercules Carrot will be at full maturity at 1/2″ around. So if you want a sweeter carrot, harvest your crop at a smaller diameter.

To harvest carrots, a simple twist a pull motion is the easiest method as long as the soil isn’t too hard. Using a garden fork or shovel in colder soils can help get them out easier. If you’re growing carrots in the winter, letting one or two frosts occur before harvesting will actually make the carrots sweeter. During the warmer months, if you experience a heat wave, it’s a good idea to go ahead and pull up the whole harvest so you’re not as risk of the carrots getting bitter.

Storing & Preserving Carrots Properly

Like strawberries, carrots can actually be overwintered depending on your climate. As long as pests aren’t a present issue and the soil doesn’t completely freeze through and through, you can keep your carrots in the ground during the winter months. Simply use mulch or row covers and let the roots continue to get sweeter the colder it gets.

After harvest, cut the green tops off leaving about an inch or two, keeping the dirt on the roots, and store in a cool, dark place and use them as needed. If you’re storing fresh carrots to eat within a day or two, washing off the dirt is fine as long as you store them with plenty of cold and moisture. So a plastic perforated bag in the fridge with a damp paper towel will keep them fresh.

Come See Our Carrots!

Pea Plant Growing Tips & Tricks

Choose the Right Variety

There are various carrot varieties available, each with different sizes and flavors. Consider the space you have available and the type of soil you have before selecting a variety that suits your needs.

Prepare the Soil

Carrots thrive in loose, well-draining soil. Remove any rocks, stones, or debris that could hinder their growth. Avoid compacted soil, as it can cause the carrots to become misshapen or stunted.

A RAD-ISH Idea!

Because crusting can be such an issue with germination in carrots, planting a row of quick-growing radishes in between your rows will not only help you determine if you’re experiencing germination issues but also keep the soil loose as the radishes emerge. Beets are also a good option for this method. By the time the beets or radishes are fully mature, it’ll be time to thin your carrot seedlings.

Planting Pelleted Carrots
on Drip Irrigation

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