Carrots are a sweet and crunchy root vegetables that are easy to grow. Carrots do best in cooler weather so plan to grow them in the spring or fall, rather than in the heat of summer. Here is our simple guide to growing carrots from seed.
Carrots do best direct sown in their garden location, but can be started in small pots and transplanted as long as the transplanting is done early before the roots fully form. If starting in small 4 inch pots, sprinkle only 5-7 seeds per pot spaced evenly over seed-starting, moist soil, then cover with 1/4” layer of soil (do not pack).
If direct sowing, plant 3-5 weeks before your last spring frost or 10 weeks before your first fall frost (Go HERE to learn your frost dates). You can plant directly in a garden bed, raised bed or well-draining pot minimally 10 inches deep. Direct sow seed 2-3 inches apart at a depth of 1/4 inch. (Skip to section GARDEN LOCATION if direct sowing seeds)
Use seed starting organic potting mix or Spade To Fork organic soil disks. Soil should be loose and moist, never hard packed.
2-3 oz per watering, or less. Allow the top 1/2’ of soil to dry slightly between waterings. DO NOT over-water or white fuzz (fungus) will grow on pots and soil.
Well-ventilated room, use a small fan to increase airflow
6-8 hours per day of direct sunlight, or 12-16 hours per day grow lights
45 degrees to 90 degrees (75 degrees is best for sprouting)
10-20 days to see sprouts
No thinning necessary
No fertilizer needed until transplant. Then once every month lightly top dress soil with organic fertilizer and water in thoroughly. We recommend using our Organic All-Purpose fertilizer.
TRANSITIONING TO THE OUTDOORS
About 2-3 weeks after planting, when seedlings true leaves begin to form (these follow the two seed leaves which are the first to emerge) begin hardening off. Hardening off is the 1 week process of moving plants outdoors for part of each day to gradually introduce them to direct sunlight, dry or moist air, and cooler nights.
Choose an outdoor location that receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. If planting into a container choose one that is 10" deep x 8" wide or larger with good drainages.
PREPARING THE SOIL
If planting in a garden plot, read this article on how to prepare the soil.
If planting in a raised bed, read this article on how to prepare the soil.
TRANSPLANTING (if started in smaller pots)
Best time of day to transplant is early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on a cloudy day.
Water seedlings 2 hours before transplanting.
Dig a single hole several inches larger than the size of the peat pot in the new garden space. Gently remove seedlings from peat pot by squeezing the sides to help loosen and separate. Set carrot transplants into the prepared soil, careful not to disturb their roots, and lightly firm the soil around them.
For medium sized varieties, harvest carrots when tops are 1/2” in diameter or larger at soil surface. This will occur approximately 50-60 days after planting.
STORING YOUR HARVEST
Carrots can be left in the ground until ready to use as long as the ground does not freeze.
To store freshly-harvested carrots, cut off all but ½ inch of the green tops, scrub off any dirt under cold running water, and air-dry. Place in airtight bags or containers, and refrigerate. If you simply put fresh carrots in the refrigerator, they’ll go limp in a few hours. In airtight containers, carrots will store in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 months.
Carrots can be stored frozen for up to 6 months. To freeze carrots rinse in cool water and then peel. Cut the green tops completely off. Put into rapidly boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove carrots from boiling water and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water. Keep them in ice water for 3 minutes. Drain well and dry. Place carrots on a baking tray evenly spaced in the freezer. Once frozen, store carrots in freezer bags or airtight containers.