Garden Types - Created Date : 8.9.2019
Yesterday, some readers asked if I had any tips for growing great carrots, so I thought I’d share a few things that work well for me. I’m by no means an expert carrot grower and sometimes things work well in one place and not in another. If you’ve had difficulties growing carrots, keep trying new varieties and different methods, keep amending your soil, eventually you’ll find a variety that works for you. Here are a few tips I’ve learned.
Carrots like loose rich soil, preferably a little sandy, and soil that’s been worked quite deeply. I find that they work best when planted where I’ve grown something like potatoes or sweet potatoes because the soil has been worked up well. Having loose sandy soil, will allow you to grow long slender straight carrots. If you have heavy soil, like I do here at Chiot’s Run, try growing shorter round varieties like Oxheart and Parisienne while you spend time amending and loosening the soil. Remove as all rocks and debris, because carrots will form “legs” when they hit a rock. If you’ve ever seen a carrot that looks like a pair of pants you know what I mean.
Carrot seeds take a while to germinate and they like even moisture during the process. This can be a bit of a chore since they are very small and are sowed very close to the surface where the soil dries out quicker. You can water your carrots twice a day to keep the top of the soil damp. That can be time consuming, so I usually cover them with a layer of burlap to hold the moisture. I only have to water them every couple days and this works beautifully for me. Make sure you check under the burlap every day for germination, at the first green sprout, remove the burlap and water daily until they have all sprouted.
Carrot seeds like to be planted close to the surface of the soil, the general rule: plant one and a half to two times the width of the seed. When I plant carrot seeds I usually sprinkle them on top of the soil and cover them with fine vermiculite, which holds moisture, thus it helps with germination rates.
I usually plant one big wide row of carrots four feet wide and about ten feet long. I use my square foot gardening template that Mr Chiots made for me, sprinkling one or two seeds in each hole, the cover with vermiculite. This method works really well for me because I know exactly where each carrot seed should be and I can pull any weeds sprouting outside the vermiculite. This way I do not have to thin the carrots since usually only one or two carrots germinates in each spot. I’ve also read that carrots do better when slightly crowded, so this close planting should make your patch more productive. Planting in one wide row also saves garden space as compared to having several long rows with paths in between then.
As with all root vegetables, carrots appreciate a lot of phosphorus in the soil. As you should do with onions, garlic, potatoes and other root vegetables, give them a healthy dose of bone meal when you work up the soil at planting time. An occasional watering with a light fish/seasweed emulsion like Neptune’s Harvest or Dr. Earth Liquid Fertilizer will also help them size up and grow beautifully, especially if your soil tends to be on the lean side.
Make sure you do not plant carrots where you had sod growing the previous year, they do not take kindly to this. For even greater success You can also plant mustard as a cover crop in the area you are planning to plant your carrots. Mustard does a wonderful job mitigating problems for root vegetables. I’m hoping that soon, the soil here at Chiot’s Run will be amended enough and cleared of stones so I can grow a nice crop of carrots here. Until then they’ll have a spot in the potager that I share with my mom.
Any great tips & tricks you want to share about how to grow carrots more successfully?
I’ve been using peat moss for the same process as vermiculite– works brilliantly. The burlap is a good idea- would be easier than dragging an old board out to the garden. I’ll have to remember that for the next crop of carrots.Melissa´s last post ..I will be back…
Mr Chiots made the spacer for me, I have a few with different distances for planting a variety of things. Here’s my post about my square foot gardening templates. Basically a square foot with holes drilled at 3 or 4 inches apart. One has 16 holes one has 9, you could even make one with 4 if you wanted.
I had a few carrots resembling the “pants” you mentioned. I have loosen my soil more this year and hope to have all single-legged carrots this year. I like your idea with the vermiculite over the seeds. Thanks for sharing that wonderful idea. EmilySincerely, Emily´s last post ..Mediterranean Kale Salad
Thank you, Susy!! This is just what I needed to know! Before, I was getting so discouraged I was about to give up, but now I’m excited to try again. Really appreciate you addressing this at length!Amy @ Homestead Revival´s last post ..Barn Hop #30
Thanks so much for the tips! I’ll be sure to refer back to this next spring when I plant some more. Thanks again (and please keep it up, these little posts help me SO much)Alyssa´s last post ..The Perfect Brownies
I’m dying laughing reading this today… I seriously just came in from clearing out the garden for the season, and was telling Nick how I need to research how to grow better carrots! Thanks for doing it for me:)
Thanks so much for this post. The first year I grew carrots was a disaster. This was the first year that I got a good harvest, but they were kind of bitter. I will try this next year. I really like your suggestion of vermiculite. The burlap too.
Have you ever thought of selling Mr. Chariots planting templates?Eleanor @ Planned Resilience´s last post ..Starting Filmjolk Yogurt
If you plant your carrots in mid summer and harvest after the weather turns cool, the sweeten up considerably after the cooler weather hits. I would also recommend a different variety as there might have been something with the variety you chose and the microclimate in your garden.
Wow, those are great tips! Those are also the beautiful carrots I’ve ever seen! I love your gardening template, I think I’ll have Walter make one for me too–if I attempt gardening again next year, of course. :)Sierra´s last post ..risky business…
Try grow carrots in a large container. Then you control the soil and there isn’t rocks or clay chunks that keep carrots from growing easily. We have had great success using the container method for carrots. Good Luck!
My wife & I grow our carrots in a 3 ft high, 4' X 4¨ wooden box and have great harvests each year…easily getting 12¨ long carrots. The soil is well amended, which we add to each year..i.e., potting soil, top soil, little bit of sheep manure, leftover plant pot soils etc etc…as I type, (August 10), the box is packed full of “seed tape” carrots which are now in full “green” leaf about 18¨ high. I’m positive we’ll have yet another batch of 10¨ – 14¨ carrots…hope this helps…it works for us.
I always mix my carrot seeds with my radish seeds. The radishes sprout fast and are harvested in about a month. The carrots are just starting to grow about that time I harvest my radishes and I get double the space by planting both together
I used a cover crop in fall and then added lots of compost and chopped leaves. Mulch heavily over the winter and you’ll be rewarded with softer soil come spring. If your soil is very heavy, consider growing smaller round carrots. For loosening heavy soils gypsum is very valuable and so inexpensive. Find it in 50 lb bags at your local farm supply store, sprinkle over the soil and mulch heavily over the winter. If you do this 3 years in a row your soil will loosen considerably!
Thanks Suzy. What materials to mulch with. We don’t have much money and I live in a sandpit so we build all of our soil. Mostly I use bags of leaves and grass I get from my landscaping friend (no chemicals used). I also can get seaweed. Most of my beds are lasagna beds with layers of seaweed, grass and leaves, and compost from kitchen scraps and junk mail shredded. The carrot beds were built from the loamy sand upper layers of native soil here. I added leaves and grass once turning it into the soil to over winter. Still seems to be too dense. My leaves are mostly oak in this area. Any advice appreciated. Carrots and Beans are the two crops I want to drown in. Beans I got. Carrots, I still am lacking. TIA
You can also sprinkle some gypsum under the fall leaf mulch which will help your sandy soil retain more moisture. Cover crops are a very inexpensive way to improve your soil as well!
Oak leaves to take longer to break down than other types of leaves. Chopping them up as finely as possible will help, other than that – patience is your best asset for soil building. The worms do a much better job that we can, only they work a little slower than we sometimes want.
Susy, not Suzy, sorry. Thanks for the tips, guess I just have to keep on keeping on.
to scott schluter's comment
markon January 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm
If you add a bucket of wood ashes, a bucket of sand and a couple buckets of compost into a bed they should do well. Before planting them, you could put the seeds spread out on a moist paper towel and put in an airtight bag out of light, but in heat so they will germinate. Then you can carefully take the sprouts and put them in the moist prepared bed and space them well with salad greens planted between them so they work together a make full use of the space.
And if you’re feeling brave, you can try putting potting soil in a clear container – a glass jar with a lid works fine, adding your carrot seeds and giving it a vigorous shake, then place in a sunny window. Be sure the soil is moistened so it clumps loosely in your hand. Give it a shake every day and watch carefully for the tiny white sprouts to start showing, then gently sprinkle the contents on your prepared garden and cover very lightly. The carrots get a great head start on the chickweed. I’ve had wonderful luck, altho the ‘row’ isn’t perfectly straight and pretty, I find much less thinning than usual.
I came across your site from Pinterest and read all the comments as I was thinking of growing carrots in a large pot this year. Over here, it is all about saving your carrots from the carrot fly and my thinking is that the carrot fly will hover at a lower level and won’t find the carrots so easily from a height. One suggestion also is never to disturb the plant while growing as it gives off the scent which attracts. So I was totallly amazed to find not one comment from your friends about carrot fly! I was then guessing you were from some wonderful foreign land, and then I read “about me” so of course you are! Here in West Midands, U.K., all we worry about in this direction is of course the carrot fly. Our own little plot carrots get just eaten away. So are’nt you lucky? And how do you do it? Plenty in the shops but pretty sure using chemicals.
Thankyou very much for the wonderful template idea which will be much easier in every way inclluding trying to keep a straight line. I may attempt to make one from the black plastic trays, cutting away the indented circles intended to hold the pots.
Marjorie~had to respond as soon as I read your address in the West Midlands! My Aunt in Kidderminster has a gorgeous garden, and she has mentioned Carrot Fly. Not sure how she deals with it, but I will ask. I live in Central Labrador, Canada, and I can share what works for me:
(1) Mulch, mulch, mulch We get surprisingly hot summer temperatures here, and mulch helps prevent both burning and drying out…
(2) Wood Ash. Carrots love it…
(3) Go easy on the amendments~carrots like it simple
(4) Loads of compost worked in before you plant
Thanks for these great ideas. My carrots didn’t grow all summer. When I went to pull up some dead plants, I found 3 carrots growing. Where did they come from? I’ve never had luck with carrots in N E Arizona. I’m definitely trying the burlap next year.
I am a new gardener but have found if I water well and cover the day I plant my carrots with a piece of cardboard held down by rocks I don’t have to worry about watering. They take 14 days to germinate and so after 14 days off come my cardboard and within a day they are sprouting little hairs of carrots. It works wonderfully for parsnips as well.
Great article on raising carrots. I raised a fall crop (I live in Indiana, USA) planted them in September 2013…and due to a wet fall, they grew very well. I mulched them with straw. Due to time and crazy weather, I went out to dig them the second weekend of December. I had a huge crop, they were very sweet and because they grew well after our frost, we didn’t have any problems with pests. I canned them in pint jars, and put some in sand in a pail and keep them in the garage…they are just like fresh when you go to get them out. All for the love of carrots…also, I tried the purple carrots for the first time..they were a huge hit!
Thanks for the tip I live in IL and seem to have trouble with carrots…they always taste like dirt! I am going to try a late season crop. When you used the sand in a pail…is that as simple as it sounds?….put sand in a bucket and put carrots in the sand? I eat carrots daily and add them to a lot of my meals so to have carrots on hand that are like fresh would be awesome! Thanks!
Love the idea of using the template for carrots. Also the vermiculite and burlap sound like just the right thing. I have had a garden for 6 years and I always plant carrots and they NEVER amount to much. This year I have a new garden( new house) and have soil tested and am ready to finally grow some carrots! Thanks for the good advice!
This is my first attempt at growing carrots and all seemed to be going well. I did some weeding last week and one the carrot foliage has all wilted. Can you tell me if they are dead or is there something I can do to solve the problem?
im doing square foot gardening with gorgeous soil and even watering. Our carrots had gorgeous tops but the roots were short, thin and had knarly warty knobs the size of peas all over them. Tasted terrible and were like soggy, woody texture. What happened?
I live in Colorado..where we have cool nights. even mid summer, the nights are mid 50’s…
I grow carrots in 2 liter soda bottles- cut just above the label, peel off label, add 4 -5 holes in bottom, and plant in rows. . The soil, vermiculite and potting soil.( not fertilized) I’ve also done these in large plastic tubs, like for Christmas trees. Easier to harvest, I want to try a drinking straw down middle with holes punched, and sealed bottom. I have a friend who gets great results this way.
6-8 per bottle, never have too many, I Prob do 60 bottles or more a year.
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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.
Garden Care Tools
Equipping yourself with knowledge of care goes a long way in your DIY garden project. Continue reading the following for basic tips you will need, including weed control.
Having the necessary tools
Your hands are not the only tools you need for gardening, but you don't need to buy too many tools at once. Instead, focus on the basic tools to help you with your gardening.
Gloves: Without the right pair of gloves, you may have to deal with splinter shortage. Do not buy large gloves because they are difficult to use. Also, be sure to keep yourself away from insects and water when storing.
Hand trowel: Perfect for digging around and planting.
Spade: It makes it easier to dig holes and move mounds from one place to another.
Rake: It is a very important tool if you want to keep your garden clean from debris and leaves.
Hoe: Choose an anchor according to your garden type. If your garden is perennial, you may need a finer hoe.
Loppers: If you have something to walk around in your garden, you need a couple.
Long hose: Select the one with rain bar and adjustable nozzle.
Wheelbarrow: If you use compost or have a backyard with more soil, you need it. It can help you take a pound and pound.
Cutting off overgrown or dead trunks and branches is a fundamental task to keep your plants free from infections and diseases. Other garden plants such as shrubs, trees and roses need to be cared for and pruned.
Tip: When pruning trees, you should not remove 30% of the leaves of a tree at once. You can ask your garden experts to determine the pruning method you need for the task at hand.
At the end of winter, damaged shrubs and trees buddha. Never wait until spring. Keep in mind that damaged or injured stems and leaves can become infected and make the disease even stronger. It is better to trim the pruning or pruning of the broken limbs, even if the storms in winter cause other damage.