Learn to grow carrots successfully in your home garden and put those grocery store carrots to shame. The flavor and variety of kinds and colors of carrots will amaze.
How to Grow Carrots Successfully at Home
I am not a big fan of cooked carrots, but I love carrots raw! I love to grow white carrots and purple carrots and all shapes of orange carrots. They even come in red and yellow. Exploring all the fun ways you can eat them is another adventure.
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Carrots are a cool season crop, so in Oklahoma, we grow them in early spring and late fall. The main trick to carrots is getting them to germinate.
First, choose where you want to plant them. You’ll need an area with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Soil for growing carrots
Carrots need good loose soil. They will not grow well in clay soils. They will be stubby or split and not have good flavor. If you have clay soil, try adding a lot of sand to the soil as well as compost to create a better soil structure.
Growing carrots in raised beds
Carrots will grow wonderfully in raised beds as long as they are about 12 inches deep (or deeper). I like to grow scarlet Nantes carrots or Denver Half Longs in our raised beds because they are a little shorter so they won’t run out of room in our beds.
Growing carrots in containers
You can also grow carrots successfully in containers, again, as long as they are at least 12 inches deep. Make sure your soil is loose and you have good drainage.
You can even grow carrots indoors.
Getting started growing carrots
Once you have your area and soil prepared, it’s time to sow your seeds. Getting carrot seeds to germinate can be tricky. My grandmother used to sow her seeds and cover them with a board after she watered them in. Then after about a week, she would go and lift up the board every day and see if there was any sign of life.
As soon as the first sprout came up, she took off the board. This way the soil remained moist enough to help her carrot seeds germinate.
We sow our carrot seeds in mid to late February in zone 7 (look up your zone too) or late September, early October. Our fall season is so super short, we usually have to sow in the fall, but the carrots don’t mature until springtime. If we get a nice long fall and can get them to germinate, then sometimes we can get carrots in the early winter.
Work up the ground really well. We use the no-till method of gardening, but we rake up the soil and redistribute it for our carrot patch. Carrots really really like loose soil.
Carrot seeds are really really small. I like to put them in a sugar shaker mixed with a little sand and let the kids shake it out over top of the soil. Then we just run our hands over the soil to just barely mix the seeds in, they really can nearly lay on top of the soil.
Pat the area lightly no harder than we would rub our eye. Then gently water them in. Carrot seeds are so light, it’s easy to make them float away.
It takes about 2 weeks for carrots to sprout. Once they germinate, thin them to about 2 inches apart. It’s best to thin seedlings with scissors and just cut them at the base of the ground to avoid disturbing the roots of the carrots you don’t thin. Thinning gives the carrots enough room to grow to a mature size. You don’t want to crowd your plants.
Once they are about 4 inches tall, place mulch around the plants to keep in moisture and reduce weeds. If you see any weeds popping up, make sure to remove them so they won’t compete with your carrots for water, sunlight, and nutrients. Weed early and often. Just pull the weeds out and make sure to get the roots. Don’t use any sprays around your baby carrot plants.
Now that your little carrot farm is up and going, you can plant another round of carrots to get some to harvest later in the season. They are ready to harvest when their shoulders peek up above the surface of the ground. Grab on to the carrot itself (the greens will break off) and gently work them back and forth and pull.
Now enjoy the best carrot you ever ate. If you grow too many carrots, you can grate them up and put them in one cup sections in the freezer and dump them into sauces and soups. They will add nutrition and flavor all winter long.
Store carrots in a cool, dry, dark place. They will store for quite a while. You can fill a five-gallon bucket with sand and store them in there for months in a cool room. Some people even bury the bucket in the yard and go out and get carrots when they need some.
Try growing a rainbow of carrot colors. My kids LOVE picking all colors of carrots from our garden. It’s a fun adventure to grow your own food. Check out how we got started in the preschool garden.
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