How to Plant Carrots

Here’s how to plant carrots in your garden so you can enjoy these tasty, nutritious veggies straight from the garden, as fresh as can be.

purple and orange carrots They are so worth the effort it takes to get them going. Once they get started, they’re low maintenance and the reward of pulling a sweet carrot right out of the ground is pretty awesome. I have learned that even moisture in the first 2-3 weeks after seeding is absolutely critical to getting carrots going. The seeds are planted so shallow that they are at risk of drying out before they germinate. And it takes a LONG time for carrots to germinate compared to other seeds. Loose soil, patience and consistent watering are key.

carrot sprouts

We have grown yellow ones, white ones, orange ones and purple ones.  The classic orange Scarlet Nantes is our favorite, but Purple Haze is pretty awesome too. The others add nice color, but the sweetest flavor is in the orange carrots – at least we think so.Homegrown Carrots

How to Plant Carrots

The Stats

When: 2 weeks before last frost date – in Zone 3 or Winnipeg that’s mid May

Days to Germinate: 14-20 days (a really long time for seeds)

Days to Harvest: 65-80 days depending on variety

Where to Plant: direct sun, in loose humus based soil – avoid manure (causes green growth but poorly shaped carrots)

Seed Spacing: 1/2″ (1.3 cm) but seeds are so tiny try broadcast seeding as described below or seed tape

Row Spacing: 12″ (30 cm)

Seed Depth: 1/4″ deep – that’s very shallow, firm soil on top and keep consistently moist to prevent seeds from drying out

Thinning Spacing: thin seedlings to encourage good carrot size, space 2″(5 cm) apart

Plant Next to: beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chives, onions, lettuce, peas, peppers, tomatoes

Avoid Planting Next to: parsnips, dill, potatoes

Tips for Carrot Success

Dig Deep and Make a Loose Bed

Carrots have to push their way through the soil in order to grow well. Help them out by digging and loosening the soil 6-8 inches deep or however long you want them to grow! We dig deep to loosen things up and create a nice bed that’s 2 to 3 feet wide and about 10-15 feet long.

Add Mulch/Compost

We add as much garden/leaf compost as we can to give those roots some nice soft soil to grow in.  Usually this makes the carrot bed darker and slightly raised compared to the soil around it.  Avoid  manure though as this can promote good green growth on top but lead to poor root development, what we’re really after. Prepare the Soil
When you see how tiny the seeds are (shaped like a caraway seed, only 1/2 the size), all this work seems like overkill, but remember we’re growing roots here. Breaking up that clay loam gives those roots a fighting chance.

Water the Bed

We smooth out the bed as much as we can, breaking up any large clumps. Then we give it a good watering – before adding the seeds.

Scatter the Seeds

Carrot seeds are quite small and difficult to space evenly into neat rows. I’ve heard that mixing it with sand may help, but we just pinch a few seeds in our fingers and sprinkle away.  We err on the side of over-seeding with the expectation that we’ll thin out extras later in the season.

Cover Seeds Lightly

Carrot seeds don’t like to burried deep, they just need a thin covering .5 cm or 1/4 inch of light soil to cover them. That’s just a little bit of soil sprinkled on top of the seeds. Use the flat side of a rake to tamp the soil down on top of the seed so there’s good contact. Then keep that soil moist to prevent the seeds from drying out.

Water 

After a shallow layer of soil, we tamp down and gently water again. Did I mention that you need to keep those seeds moist!

Cover Very Lightly with Compost or Leaves

We sprinkle a very loose layer of compost or leaves on the entire bed to help retain moisture and offer a bit of sun protection to the tiny sprouts that will emerge in 10-14 days.

Keep Moist during Germination

Are you getting the idea that even soil moisture is important, cuz it is! More than any other veggie seeds, we try to water our carrot bed every other day during the germination period. Ideally we would water them regularly during the summer – but we lose interest and once they get a good start, they’re usually good to go.

Consider Onions as Companion Plants

After having root flies in the carrots one year, we also make sure we plant onions right next to the carrots.  It seems to have worked these past two years.
growing carrots
Thick, luscious bed of carrots. They need to be thinned out and that dill has got to go; dill and carrots aren’t good companions.

We like when Mother Nature helps out with spring rains, so we look to the forecast to decide when to put in the carrot bed. If the forecast says rain tomorrow and it’s two to four weeks before the first frost free night – it’s a good day to put in the carrots.

Carrots Sept 30

So many lovely carrots. I can’t wait!

Here are a few other How To’s to get your gardening going:

How to Plant Beets

How to Plant Onions

How to Plant Leeks

How to Plant Tomatoes

How to Plant Corn

How to Plant Peas

How to Plant Garlic

How to Plant Kale

How to Plant Bush Beans

Top 5 Herbs for Your Garden

Grow Your Own Seasoning Blend

Grow Your Own Herbal Teas

When to Plant Different Vegetables

Need help planning or getting your vegetable garden going? Get Getty to help you figure things out. Getty Stewart is a freelance Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and avid veggie gardener. She loves growing food and has been doing so forever. Need a workshop or a little one-on-one, Get Getty!

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