If you’ve ever tasted any home-grown veggies, you know how different and better they taste compared with store-bought ones. You might have felt tempted to start your own garden with plenty of green and herbs, or you might have already started.
Well, consider carrots. Sweet, crunchy, and with many nutritious benefits, carrots are not always considered the easiest to grow. But don’t get discouraged. If you want to know how to plant carrot seeds, we’re here to make sure you get a successful harvest.
Here is a guide to making growing carrots easy, plus a few special hacks and tricks.
Do Carrots Grow From Seeds?
Like the majority of vegetables, carrots will grow from seed. They come in many varieties and colors, which you can mix and match however you want to get the best out of this crop.
Now, you can buy seeds, which is the most common practice. But you could also harvest your own seeds, year after year, although this might not be very easy if you’re a beginner.
Leaving your carrots in the soil for two years instead of harvesting them will make them produce flowers and seeds in the second year when the roots (aka the sweet, crunchy carrots) stop developing, and the plant is focused on propagation. You can also plant carrot tops; this way, you won’t be able to get any roots, but the foliage will produce flowers and seeds you can then store.
Steps for Growing Carrots From Seed
As mentioned before, some consider planting carrots from seed a bit hard to do. The issue might be in thinking that all vegetables work the same and need the same things to thrive. Here are the steps to successfully grow your carrots.
Dig up the spot where you’ll plant your carrots. This should be a definitive location, as they don’t enjoy being transplanted. Aim to loosen up the soil, softening it. This will make it easy for carrots to grow freely. Make sure your soil’s pH is around 6-7.
Before sowing, fertilize the soil with a 10-20-10 ratio. Rule of thumb, use about one cup per 10 feet (3 meters) of row. Carefully mix it in with the soil.
Make rows about 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) apart. You should be planting carrot seeds in shallow holes, about ½ an inch deep (1.5 cm) and 2 inches (5 cm) apart from one another. You might find out it is very difficult to only let one seed into each hole, so don’t worry too much about a few seeds per hole; you’ll be thinning them later.
Wait for them to grow 4 inches (10 cm) high to thin them. Thinning allows them to have enough space to develop. Make them two inches apart. After a while, when they’re big enough to eat, you can thin them even further until they are 4 inches (10 cm) apart to promote bigger and longer roots.
To harvest, gently pull at the foliage base. If the soil is not loose enough, you can break it up with a fork or any other long tool. Be gentle not to damage the carrot or any other plant around.
Tips on How to Sow Carrot Seeds
Here are some additional tips to increase your chances and make you a carrot pro.
- Plant carrot seeds two to three weeks before the last frost of spring. A gentle frost will turn your carrots sweeter.
- Prepare the soil weeks before planting. This will include adding compost, removing rocks and pebbles, and making the soil aerated.
- Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist. This will make the roots grow deep and straight.
- You can cover the soil with an old burlap fabric for even moisture. This can then be easily removed after the seeds germinate.
- Covering the seeds with sifted compost or garden soil instead of regular soil might increase germination rates.
- If you’re planting in a container, make sure they’re at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep.
When to Plant Carrots
Besides knowing how to grow carrots from seed, it’s also important to know when. If you plant them out of season, your efforts might still amount to nothing.
Carrots are fonder of cool temperatures and are widely associated with early spring and fall when the weather is still not too warm but also not too cold. Still, they can be harvested almost all year round. Ideally, soil temperatures should be between 45-85 ºF (7-29 ºC) for germination but below 70 ºF (21 ºC) for growth and maturing.
Since this zone generally has mild to cold winters and warm summers, it makes sense to plant this crop between late July and August. This way, they will grow when temperatures begin to drop, but without the risk of heavy frosts.
Since zone 7 is characterized by warm summers, this crop should be planted as soon as early February to get some of the coldest temperatures of late winter, when there is not too much risk of exposing the carrots to extreme cold or frost.
How Long Does it Take to Grow from a Seed?
Carrots will take about 21 days to sprout but should only be harvested after three weeks of maturity, so they get a chance to grow as big and as long as they want. This means it will usually take between 55 to 80 days for a successful harvest. You can always pick them up sooner and get baby carrots.
Hacks & Tricks to Planting Carrot Seeds
Here are some more ways in which you can increase your success and get a great carrot harvest.
- Make sure the soil surface is free of any debris, trash, and rocks.
- The type of soil will dictate how successful you are. A well-drained sandy loam is ideal. If they are too heavy, your carrots will take longer to grow and won’t have that even and smooth look.
- If you’re planning on not buying any carrots from the store, plant about 5 to 10 feet (1.5-3 meters) of row per person to make sure you have enough. Each one-foot row gives about 1 pound of them.
- Ensure there are no weeds amongst them, especially when they’re still small, as they will steal all the nutrients from the carrots.
- Installing a floating row cover is the easiest way to keep pests away.
- The best fertilizers are those rich in potassium.
- A good way to have carrots all year is by planting the first crop as soon as there’s no more threat of frost and continuing to plant new seeds around every 2 weeks, so they’ll grow up until fall.
- Mulching can help maintain them until winter.
How Deep to Plant Carrot Seeds?
Since they have very small and fine seeds, carrots shouldn’t be planted deeper than about ½ an inch (1.5 cm). This way, sunlight can still reach them.
What Is the Best Way to Plant Carrots?
Carrots only grow by seed, so this is the best way to plant them. They might be a bit demanding of your attention and care, but they’ll provide great veggies. Seeds should be sowed, kept moist, and then thinned, and after 2 to 3 months, they’re ready to eat.
How Many Carrot Seeds to Plant Per Hole?
Due to their size, it is common that more than one side will inevitably fall into each hole. This is not bad, as it can help you not have empty slots in your rows when one seed doesn’t germinate. You’ll have to thin them out later to make sure they grow freely.