Bright, crunchy, and delicious, carrots are a tasty root vegetable with much to offer! Knowing how to plant carrot seeds makes having this versatile and nutrient-packed vegetable available any time you’d like!
You’ve come to the right place if you’re interested in growing carrots. In this guide, you’ll learn how to plant carrot seeds from start to finish.
I’ll go over what soil conditions you need, how to tell when carrots are ready to harvest, and everything in between. Soon you’ll be ready to start growing your own tasty supply of carrots.
What Carrots Need to Grow
Actually, knowing how to plant carrot seeds is just one part of it. Providing the right growing conditions is the first step in growing a successful crop of carrots. When they have the proper conditions, carrots are easy to grow and produce a reliable crop each and every time.
As long as you have the right approach, growing carrots in just about any location is possible!
They grow well in the ground, raised beds, and containers. Believe it or not, growing carrots in containers indoors year-round is possible.
Carrots do best in well-draining, loamy soil. They prefer a soil pH that is neutral to slightly acidic.
Since carrots are a root crop, they do best in soils with a loose, light texture. Loose soil gives the seeds plenty of space to stretch and grow so they can turn into big, fat carrots.
If your soil is heavily compacted, amend it with a soil conditioner and add plenty of organic matter before planting carrot seeds. Composted wood chips, crushed leaves, or pine fines are all good additions.
Carrots thrive in full sun. Plant them in a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
When growing carrots indoors, use a grow light to ensure your carrots have plenty of light or place them in front of a large sunny window.
Carrots are a cool-weather crop. They grow best in early spring or mid-late fall. In spring, wait to plant carrot seeds until 2-3 weeks before the last frost. In the fall, plant seeds 2-3 months before the first expected frost.
How to Plant Carrot Seeds
Now that you know how to provide the right growing conditions, here’s how to plant carrot seeds.
Direct Sowing Carrots
Direct sowing is the most common way to grow carrots from seed. Most root crops are sensitive to transplanting because they don’t like having their roots disturbed, and carrots are no different.
Planting carrot seeds directly in the garden is simple and usually much more successful than transplanting.
Prepare the Soil
First, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or other debris. Add amendments if needed, and make sure the soil is nice and loose.
Planting Carrot Seeds
When the soil is ready, plant carrot seeds in rows by sprinkling a few seeds on the soil every 2-3 inches. Space the rows about a foot apart.
Cover the carrot seeds to a depth of 1/4 inch. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist as the seeds are germinating. Plants will emerge in 1-3 weeks, depending on the variety.
When the leaves are about four inches tall, thin the carrots to one plant every 2-4 inches. To avoid disturbing the roots of other carrots, don’t pull up the plants you’re going to thin. Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut the entire plant away at the soil level.
Starting Carrot Seeds Indoors
Direct sowing is usually the best method for growing carrots outdoors, but if you plan to grow them indoors, you can start seeds any time of the year.
I’d still recommend starting the carrots in their permanent container rather than planting your seeds in seed-starting trays. That way, you won’t have to worry about transplanting the carrots and disturbing the roots later on.
How to Plant Carrot Seeds in a Container
Choose a container that’s at least 12 inches deep and fill it with high-quality potting soil. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and about 2-3 inches apart. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, thin the plants to one every 2-4 inches.
Keep the soil moist and ensure your plants have access to light by either placing the container directly in front of a large sunny window or by using a grow light.
Caring for Carrots as They Grow
Once planted, carrots don’t need a lot of attention in order to thrive. Here’s how to care for your plants as they grow.
Young carrots need about an inch of water each week. As the roots develop, they’ll need more water. Up to around two inches per week by the time it gets close to harvest.
To tell if your carrots need water, check the soil. If the top inch is dry, add water. If it’s moist, there’s no need to water. Wait, and check again in a few days.
Fertilize carrots when the leaves are 3-4 inches tall. Use a formulation that’s lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, like Big A Carrot Fertilizer.
Nitrogen encourages leafy growth, while phosphorus encourages root growth. For big, tasty carrots, we want to encourage root growth!
Depending on the variety, carrots take anywhere from 55-85 days from seed to harvest.
How can you tell when Carrots are Ready to Harvest?
You’ll be able to see the top of the root when carrots are ready to harvest. The top of the carrot should be about 1/2 an inch across. Depending on the variety, this could vary a bit, so check the back of your seed packet for more specific sizing information.
How to Harvest Carrots
Loosen some of the soil around the carrot with a trowel. Grab the carrot greens firmly at the top of the root and pull gently, wiggling back and forth as you go.
If you’re not ready to harvest all of your carrots at once, you can actually leave some in the ground through the winter. Just harvest a few at a time as you’re ready to use them.
If you do leave carrots in the ground to overwinter, make sure to harvest them before temperatures start warming up in the spring. Otherwise, the carrots will begin to flower and become inedible.
Store fresh carrots in an airtight container in the fridge. There’s no need to wash the carrots first, though you’ll probably want to brush off most of the dirt before putting them in your refrigerator.
Refrigerated carrots are best when used within a week or two. For ideas on how to store carrots for longer than that, check out How to Store Carrots Long Term.
Types of Carrots to Grow
Now that you’ve learned how to plant carrot seeds, it’s time to pick out a variety to grow!
Carrots come in all different shapes, sizes, and even colors. Here are some interesting and unique carrot varieties to try.
Chantenay Royal carrots are short and stout. Each one grows between 4-5 inches long.
Envy carrots are a classic, orange variety that grows around 10-12 inches long.
Malbec carrots are a pretty red color.
Purple Elite carrots have a dark purple exterior and a bright yellow center.
Viper carrots are long and thin. They can grow as long as 14 inches!
Yellowbunch carrots are big and yellow.
Can you Regrow Carrots from Scraps?
Saving carrot tops is a great way to grow more food without planting additional seeds. You won’t be able to grow another carrot root, but it’s possible to grow more greens.
How to Grow Carrot Greens
After harvesting, cut about an inch off of the top of a healthy carrot. Cut most of the greens away, leaving about an inch of greens attached to the carrot top. Place the top root side down in a shallow dish of water and put it in front of a sunny window. Change the water every 2-3 days.
After a few days, you’ll notice greens growing from the top and tiny white roots growing on the bottom. After a couple of weeks, the roots will have developed enough to plant the carrot top in a container with potting soil.
Trim some of the greens as you’re ready to use them. Carrot greens have a flavor similar to parsley, and they’re delicious in salads, soups, and sauces.
Wrapping up How to Plant Carrot Seeds
You don’t have to be a bunny to love carrots. These tasty root vegetables are a perfect addition to any home garden! Learning how to plant carrot seeds is well worth the effort. Once you taste your own homegrown carrots, you’ll be glad you did!
If you’re curious about more carrot varieties, visit the carrot page. To learn more about growing healthy plants from seed, visit the seed starting page.
There we’ve put together a ton of information to help get your garden off to a great start. From how to create a seed starting calendar to fertilizing tips and everything in between, you’re sure to find some helpful tips and tricks.