Carrots are easy to grow, but the hardest thing for many gardeners is germinating carrots.
We’ll learn 3 big important tips for carrot growing success!
How to Grow Carrots
Carrots can be sown a few weeks before your last spring frost up until a couple of months before your fall frost. We grow them in the spring and summer for a fall and winter harvest.
Carrots need a lot of moisture during germination, it’s harder to germinate on hot summer days.
Here are some important steps for success when growing carrots in your home garden.
Growing Carrots (Step-by-Step)
Loosen the Soil
Carrots are a root vegetable that grows downwards underground. If you have compact clay type soil, your carrots will struggle to grow downwards. You need to spend the time to loosen up the soil before sowing, use a broadfork or garden fork to loosen up your garden soil. For carrots and other plants in clay soil, consider growing the small round carrots or adding peat moss to have better drainage. Carrots are a low nutrient crop compared to many others (learn more about crop rotation) so you shouldn’t need to add amendments, although you can use a light fertilizer. Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8
Avoid manure as carrots will ‘fork’ instead of growing one straight root.
They will also be misshapen if there are too many rocks underground because they have to grow around them. When you loosen your soil, also remove large debris and rocks.
Although you do want to loosen the soil for deeper growth, you also don’t want your carrots falling into that loosened soil and not germinating. Carrot seeds are tiny and many people make the mistake of covering carrot seeds with too much soil or sowing too deeply. This means the carrots don’t end up germinating. You want to barely cover them with soil, some people like covering with sand or a burlap bag to germinate. So loosen the soil, gently level it at the top, then scatter your carrots and barely cover with soil.
Most carrot seeds only have 60% germination rate.
This means that most won’t germinate and that you have to sow more densely than many other crops. They also take longer to germinate than many other seeds, 2 weeks is common so be patient.
Carrot seeds need adequate moisture, make sure the bed is watered frequently.
Thin Out Your Carrots
When I hear that gardeners managed to germinate their carrots but they still didn’t get a great harvest I ask if they thinned out their seedlings. Because of the lower germination rate with carrots, you often have to sow much closer together than needed then thin out your seedlings.
This means removing the ones that are too close together otherwise they’ll compete for nutrients, light and moisture and won’t have enough space to grow.
Thin out your carrots to 4-10cm (1½-4″) when the young plants are 2 cm/1″ tall. Keep the bed well weeded as carrots dislike competition. You can eat thinned out carrots as baby carrots or toss them into the compost.
If you wish for larger carrots, give them more space and more months to grow. Your seed packet will say how long they’re ready until harvest, often 70-100 days depending on the variety and size.
Do you have a favorite trick for growing carrots?