How to Grow Carrots

Botanical Name: Daucus carota subsp. sativus, Days to Sprout: 14-21, Days to Maturity: 50-90 depending on variety, Sun: Full, Soil: Loose and well draining, Cold Tolerant: Yes

Growing Conditions
Carrots are a cool-season crop that need light, loose soil to really thrive. Choose a location free from rocks and debris that drains well and receives full sun. Obstructions in the soil can cause stunted or malformed root growth. To prepare for planting, work the soil down to 12-16” deep and remove any debris. Add organic matter and till into existing soil.

Carrots can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in the spring. Waiting until the soil has warmed to 5°C will speed germination time, which typically takes 14-21 days. Carrots are intolerant of disturbance to their roots and should always be direct-sown in the garden when possible. Sow your seeds in rows ¼“ to ½” deep and 1 to 1- ½' apart. Carrot seeds are very tiny and can be difficult to handle - coated seeds, seed tapes, and hand seeders can all make planting much easier! Carrots need to be thinned throughout the season to maintain proper spacing. Typically about 30 seeds can be planted per square foot, then thinned to 1-2" between seedlings. To have carrots all summer long, plant in succession every 2-3 weeks. Avoid planting during hot, dry spells in the summer.

Find our full guide to seed starting here.

Carrot Bunch

Once the plants have reached about 4” high, thin them out so the seedlings are 1-4” apart. The more space you provide, the larger each root can become. Pull each seedling out gently or cut them back at the soil level to avoid damaging nearby roots. You can check back in a few weeks and do a second thinning if more seedlings have popped up.
Carrots are generally low maintenance, but they do require some attention during the growing season. If your soil is not rich in nutrients you may need to fertilize after a few weeks of growth. We recommend a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphate (for vigorous root growth) and low in nitrogen (to avoid all tops and no carrot) such as our Garden Fertilizer with Boron or Neptune's Harvest Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer. Liquid or granular fertilizers are best to avoid disturbing the carrot roots. Carrots require at least an inch of water per week and may require supplemental watering during dry spells in the summer. Keep your beds well weeded throughout the growing season. Mound up soil around shoulders as carrots grow to avoid greening. 

Pests and Diseases
Carrot Rust Fly - Their larvae feed on the lower roots of carrots. Look for scars and soft spots on the bottom two-thirds of your carrots.
Carrot Weevil - Their larvae feed on the upper roots of carrots. Look for zig-zagging channels in the top third of your carrots. 
Cutworms - Small caterpillars that chew through stems. Look for damage to the carrot tops at ground level.
Wireworms - Larvae that feed on seeds and roots. Look for wilting, yellowing tops. 
Root Rot - An infection that causes soft spots on the upper portion of the root and wilting foliage. 
Leaf Spot/Blight - Fungal infections that cause dark spots on foliage. 

Crop rotation, garden cleaning, and proper spacing between plants are the best ways to prevent problems caused by pests and diseases. Diatomaceous earth can be used to control crawling pest species, while sticky traps will catch flying pests. Row covers and insect netting can also prevent travelling pests from landing on your crops and causing damage. Ensure good drainage in your chosen planting spot to prevent problems with fungus and rot. Contact us for more specialized pest control methods such as beneficial nematodes. 

It generally takes 50-90 days for carrots to grow to their full size, depending on the variety. To check if carrots are ready for harvest, brush away the dirt at the top (shoulder) to see their width. Carrots can be harvested at any time, and small roots are delicious eaten as baby carrots. Baby carrots are generally sweeter and juicier than mature carrots, but when harvested at full size they have higher sugar content and more vitamin content. If carrots are left in the ground too long, they can lose their flavour and become woody. 

Harvest your carrots by gently grasping the tops at the crown and pulling them up. If they do not come up, try loosening the soil gently. Once they have been harvested, brush off the excess soil. Trim tops off at ½“above the carrot and store in a cool, dry place.