Showing you how to grow carrots from seeds, as requested by so many of you on Instagram! Homegrown carrots are just delicious and there are also so many varieties ranging in size, colour and flavour. This is one of the advantages of growing carrots at home as you can choose short stubby salad carrots or long sweet purple ones! Plus you only have to taste a freshly harvested carrot for you to never want to go back to shop bought ones.
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How to Grow Carrots – Varieties
Short stubby varieties are perfect for shallow containers or denser soil, like Rondo and fun to grow with children! Longer carrot varieties are great for raised beds and deeper planters; these will also need looser soil to grow in as I explain below.
If you’d like to know more about the different varieties, then Gardening Know How has a good article!
So let me show you how to grow these step-by-step and some of my top tips!
Sowing Carrot Seeds
- In your prepared your pot, planter or raised bed, make a line that is 1cm deep with a hand trowel or dibber. Making this line to a required depth is also called a drill. You can make more drills, but keep them about 8 cm apart. Your seed packet might expect more space between the drills but from experience I find you can easily grow them this close in a raised bed. I usually sow seeds here in London from April onwards.
- Water the drills before sowing the seeds.
- Tip the seeds out of the packet. I like to empty some of the seeds out into a small container so that I can pick some up easily. Take a pinch of seeds and sprinkle them into the drills. Then cover them with the compost from the sides.
- Place a label to show where you have sown your carrot seeds.
- The seeds will pop up within a couple weeks. Wait till they have true leaves (second set of leaves which are very pretty!).
Thinning Carrot Seedlings
- You can pull out any that are overcrowding to allow the remaining seedlings to have space to grow easily. This is called thinning. I leave about 5cm between each seedling.
- The thinned seedlings can all be rinsed and added to your salad, they are delicious!
- Keep them watered. Once they are about 10 cm tall, you can thin them again if needed.
- I feed my carrots once or twice for their roots to plump up, using diluted seaweed extract.
- Within 5 months of sowing the seeds, you should be able to harvest your carrots. Gently pull out carrots as and when you need them so that you can eat them fresh!
How to Grow Carrots – My Top Tips
Tip 1. Preparing soil
As carrots grow down into the ground, they prefer loose compost without stones. I use multipurpose compost mixed with some top soil in my raised beds and this works very well. If you are using pots or planters then ensure that they have a good depth to allow space for the carrots to grow. It is a good idea to add some compost and horticultural sand to heavy soil to make the medium looser for the carrots to grow in.
Tip 2. Successional Sowing
Successional sowing and harvesting – Sow carrot seeds every few weeks to allow you to harvest right until Christmas and beyond! The advantage is you will be able to extend the carrot growing season and not have to deal with a glut! My Christmas carrots were sown in late June last year.
Tip 3. Sowing Sparsely
Sow sparsely and evenly so you will not have much thinning to do later. This is helpful as the seedlings can have more space from the start without attracting pests which can happen with the scent of the fresh seedlings that have been pulled out.
Tip 4. Thinning Seedlings
Definitely thin your carrots if you have sown them thickly otherwise they will not be able to grow well! The seedlings and young plants may look lush but in order for the carrots to develop underneath, they require space and nutrition.
To avoid much thinning, you can sow very sparsely to start with.
Tip 5. Avoiding Pests
Growing carrots with onions will help prevent pests affecting them. I have always grown them together and they make great companions.
You can also cover your carrot seedlings with nets like Enviromesh which help against carrot flies.
Tip 6. Consistent Watering
Keep your carrot plants well-watered and consistently. They do not like drying out when they are growing.
I hope these tips and guide will help you to also grow beautiful and delicious carrots at home!