Plant your seeds outdoors 3 to 5 weeks before the last sping frost date in a loose, rock-free soil. If you have heavy soil, add plenty of aged manure. Plant again every 2 to 3 weeks after that. Carrots will take 70 to 80 days to mature, so plant your last planting 2 to 3 months before the first expected fall frost. In Zone 8 and warmer, plant carrots in fall or winter.
For easier weeding, plant your carrots in rows. Put a pinch of about 5 seeds per 1 inch. They will take 1 to 3 weeks to sprout. Cover with ¼ to ½ inch of screened compost, potting mix, or sand—a little more in warm, dry areas—to make it easier for the delicate seedlings to emerge. Water gently to avoid washing seeds away; keep the soil continuously moist for best germination.
Start thinning the seedlings to 1 inch apart when the tops are 2 inches high, and be thorough, because crowded carrots will produce crooked roots. Thin again 2 weeks later to 3 to 4 inches apart.
When to Water
Carrots require about 1 inch of water per week to reach their full potential. A slow, deep soak is the best method.
Carrots are cold-hardy and make a good fall crop. In some areas, they can be overwintered, and there are some varieties bred particularly for overwintering.
The biggest threats to carrots are deer, gophers, woodchucks, and rabbits. Also Cutworms (curled caterpillars) can cut plants off at the soil line, chew 1/4" holes in pods or seeds, and occasionally chew leaves. Wireworms can feed on the carrot root. Here is a list of other pests: Aphids, Carrot rust fly, Darkling beetles, Flea beetles, Garden symphylans, Grasshoppers, Nematodes, Seedcorn maggot, Vegetable weevil, and Whiteflies.
Light, sandy soil enriched with lots of organic matter and deeply tilled. Carrots grow best in rich, loose, sandy loam soil that is well drained and fertile. Before planting carrots, remove all rocks, and weeds from the planting area and till the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.
Carrots can reach a height of 1 to 3 feet.Take that into consideration when planning your garden. Make sure there is enough distance between your tall vegetables and short vegetables. That way both will get enough sun light.
Carrots will be ready to harvest in about 70 to 80 days, when the carrot is about 1 to 1½ inches in diameter. Carefully remove the carrot by reaching into the dirt around the outside of the carrot and gently pulling it out. Carrots planted in the summer may be left in the soil until the first killing frost.
Carrots are cool-weather vegetables, so start sowing about 2 weeks before the last expected frost in your area.
Carrots prefer a soil pH between 5.8 and 7.5. Before planting fertilize well. After the seeds sprout, Fertilize your plants once a week.
Careful attention to the soil makes these Vitamin A-rich roots a snap to grow. Plant in deep, stone-free soil (a raised bed is great) with a fine surface. Thin and weed carefully, and mulch to keep soil cool.
Keep the garden free from weeds, as weeds will compete with the growing carrots for soil nutrients and water. Do not dig too deeply when weeding and pull weeds carefully to avoid damaging the carrots root.
Carrots are biennial plants, grown as annuals. The first year, they store energy in their roots. Then the next spring, they leaf out quickly and send up a flower stalk.
Carrots are a full-sun plant. While they tolerate partial shade, carrots require at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight during the day.
Anise, Dill, and Parsley should not be planted next to carrots.
The following vegetables will do well when planted next to carrots: Beans, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Radishes, Rosemary, Sage, and Tomatoes. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can deter insects and encourage growth.
"Next year, DO NOT plant carrot, celery, fennel, dill, parsley, parsnip, cumin, coriander/cilantro, and caraway in the same location where you planted carrots this year. Because they are all members of the Apiaceae family. Instead use that spot to plant other vegetables from a different family such as:
- Allium (Amaryllidaceae) - onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.
- Legume (Leguminosae): peas, beans, lentils.
- Mustard/Brassica (Cruciferae): broccoli, caulifower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes.
- Sunflower (Compositae): lettuce, artichokes.
- Cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae): pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, cucumbers.
- Nightshade (Solanaceae): tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers.
- Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae): spinach, Swiss chard, beets.
Growing Carrots Overview
Carrots are not hard to grow as long as they get enough sun light and cool temperatures around 65 degrees F. They are members of the Apiaceae family, which also includes celery, fennel, dill, parsley, parsnip, cumin, coriander/cilantro, and caraway. For more planting information, please visit our Farming Tips homepage.